Saturday, December 19, 2020

Christmas By The Book Part 4

The loveliness of the tree.  : )

Last week I think I said I had three more books from which to pull Christmas and Winter ideas from, but it's two.  The first is:

I'm sure you've either heard of this book or read it, but when I first read it I found I learned so much, so that in subsequent readings I just had to write a few things down.

Christmas ideas:

*Let there be a few surprises at Christmas.  Around here (in our home) we ask for wish lists.  I've always felt that if we're spending money and taking the time I want to be certain it's something that they actually want/need!  But, having said that, I do like the surprises.  It doesn't have to be costly, but like in this book, it COULD take some time and effort.  And I think at Christmas we tend to shy away from that.  We have a lot going on anyway so why would we want to put more on our plate? would mean something to someone.  It's taking that extra step, going the extra mile, to put a smile on their face.

*Giving gifts to others.  I know this is a no-brainer because this is what we do at Christmas, but in this book you see Father Tim giving gifts to a LOT of people that he knows and loves.  Not a LOT of gifts, but A gift to those he knows and loves.  I feel we tend to go overboard sometimes, but when we begin to think of the person, when we listen to people, when we know the people to whom we are giving, there are certain things that come to mind when we begin to give.  On our part we need to listen.  We need to look around their environment, we need to take mental notes and then jot them down somewhere so that we can be reminded.  Keep a separate holiday notebook where you can keep gift-giving ideas.

*Remembering Christ in it ALL.  Jesus was our gift from God at Christmas so it's only right that we remember that - be fervent in our prayers, thanking God for His amazing gift, knowing that this little babe in the manger grew to be a man and gave His life on the Cross for our sins.  Remember!

*Reading God's Word daily.  If we want/need the energy, motivation, and time that Christmas takes, we HAVE to get into the Bible.  Take time for this so that you have time for others.  Make it a priority above all else.

Winter ideas:

*Get outside.  This seems to be in every book that I read.  Walk (even in the cold).

*Enjoy the beauty of the season.  This year has been tough, but if we look around, there is still beauty to behold.

The next book is:

This is a favorite because it reminds me how the "new" ways of doing Christmas aren't always the best.  Sometimes it's the "old-fashioned" ways that need to be brought back.

Christmas ideas:

*This is the book that taught me to begin a Gift Pantry.  Even though it doesn't specifically say anything about a gift pantry, the main characters of this book had gifts available to give.  I think what happens in December we realize that all of a sudden we have to give!  And, what to give!  Who to give to!  And because we have to/want to give, the monthly expenses in other areas just don't go away and we're left kind of wondering how we're going to pull it all off.  I think it's wise that, throughout the year, when you go shopping for your own wants/needs you take the time to look at other things as well that might be great for storing away.  You could designate an area under the bed or in a closet or devote a cupboard........whatever that is for you........and begin to set things aside that you know would be nice for someone.  Then you're ready.  The money has already been spent.  And it will help in alleviating that panic buying we all feel at this time of year.  

*Again, keep God in your celebrating.  Pray together.  Read the Bible together.  Make Christmas gatherings a time of worship.  This shouldn't be embarrassing - it should come naturally.

*Serve good, simple food.  Plan ahead.  Do things ahead of time so that you're not in the kitchen while everyone else is enjoying themselves.

*Have things for others to do before/after gift giving.  Play games.  Put a puzzle together.

*Rest.  It's okay to just rest together.  This is where I have a hard time.  I feel like I need to keep things going from the time the guests enter the door until they leave.  When sometimes it's just nice to sit and ponder and relax and chat a bit.  In this book, I was surprised when I read that the "older" Mom and Dad actually went and took a nap while the "younger" were playing games and such.  I must admit that I wouldn't be able to do that, but it sure sounds nice!  : )

Winter ideas:

*And, once again, get outside!  This seems to be the thing to do!  LOL  But it does make sense that when we are feeling a bit tired it WOULD be a good idea to just get some fresh air to revive us.  : )

*For the younger, encourage them to play outdoors.  This year we're kind of bummed that we don't have any snow (yet) so it's hard for the kiddos to go sledding or skating or anything so you'll have to get creative and think of what they can do.

That wraps up the Christmas by the book series.  I hope you have enjoyed it and learned something from it and will try some of the ideas!!!

I really can't believe that we are in the final week before Christmas.  But in our family there will be things to look forward to:

*Tomorrow we will celebrate my husband's birthday (which was this past Tuesday).  He makes awesome chicken wings.  I'll make the potato salad to go with it, cut up the fruit and make his favorite German chocolate cake.  Our son and his wife will come over to share the food, watch a movie, and hopefully play a game.

*On Christmas Eve our son and his wife will come over for a brunch and just hang out together for the afternoon and a game (we like games).  : )  I bought a new Christmas trivia game so we'll pull that one out.  

*And. then, on Christmas Day our son and his wife will come over again late in the day to have the Christmas meal and open gifts.  So, Lord willing that this will all happen, it will be fun and meaningful and special for the four of us.

From all the lists from all the books I read, the one thing I wonder about is whether or not we'll get outdoors!!!!  It looks like on Christmas Eve around here it will be around zero so...............?

The past week was very nice.  By the time Thursday came around, all the gifts had been wrapped, the out-of-town packages sent out, and all the cards mailed (and I was so happy to see that card-giving was still something a lot of people did this year in spite of the way this year went - it was so nice to open the mailbox and pull out cards).  Yesterday was a day of pouring myself a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream on top:

Pull out the sugar cookie recipe and bake.  It's the only baking for Christmas I'm doing this year.  I thought that on Christmas Eve (since that will be the more simple day) I would set the cookies out along with the frosting and all the sprinkles with knives and have everyone decorate their own cookies!  We can eat them with the peppermint ice cream that we'll be serving for dessert.  : )  I just think it would be fun to do together instead of me always frosting and decorating the cookies ahead of time.

I'm also enjoying the Christmas music and I'm STILL enjoying just the instrumental music instead of the words.  I pretty much know all the words anyway to all the Christmas songs so I can sing along if I want but mostly I like the quiet in the humming.

And there is always at least one candle lit.  I found one that smells of pear and pine.  You wouldn't think the two would go together but it's an amazing fragrance.

My husband always make his Chex mix at Christmas (for us and for giving out to others) and that just makes the house smell wonderful.  I love the smell of the savory mix and then the smell of the sugar cookies together.'s a nice balance.

I've been keeping our meals, during this busy time, simple.  Lots of soups - chicken noodle, split pea with ham, chili.  That, with crackers or bread is perfect for an evening meal.  

Today will be a day of cleaning the house for tomorrow and doing a few things ahead of time for the party.   This list is made and so I had better get going!!!!

I'm not sure if I will check in on Christmas Eve or Day, so just in case.......I do wish you a Merry Christmas.  I know a lot of people right now who are struggling (and that is putting it mildly in some cases).  It's been a year unlike we've seen or experienced so my prayer for you is that you focus on Jesus.  Hold on to Him.  Keep Him first and foremost.  Pray that He will give you the "peace that passes all understanding" and do for others.  

I SO appreciate you and the time you take in reading what little I have to offer when I know you could be doing other things.  God bless you and your family and your friends.



Saturday, December 12, 2020

Christmas By The Book Part 3


Another Christmas puzzle done!  : )

Well, here we are.  Another Saturday.  The days/weeks just fly by.  We pretty much have our Christmas shopping done and now it's all staring at me wondering when I'm going to get around to the wrapping!  So........after a few "to-do's" today, I'm hoping I will make myself a cup of hot chocolate, put the Christmas music on, and get lost in the process.  

I've actually been enjoying Christmas more this year than ever.  You would think that with the year we've experienced (and continue to experience), I wouldn't feel this way but I'm thankful that I do.  I'm not saying that I don't have my times of sadness.  I do.  But I'm trying to put my thoughts in others and about what Christmas truly means, that it gets me out of myself and the worries of this world.  Thinking of others really does help.  Asking those questions of "how can I help" and "what can I do" makes all the difference.  Knitting scarves and prayer shawls, crocheting blankets, putting hygiene kits together for the homeless, donating a bag or two of groceries to the food shelf, putting together love baskets that might brighten someone's day, sending Christmas cards, making cards, baking........all those little things that gets my mind off myself and on to what Christmas is.  A time of doing, a time of sharing.

One thing that my husband and I do every year is that, when we go out to look at Christmas decorations in our neighborhoods, when we see a manger scene I jot the address down and then send a card of thanks that they have kept Christ in Christmas.  I really want to encourage people to keep doing that.  Yes, Santa is fun and so are all the snowmen and all the other characters we associate Christmas with and I have nothing against any of that.  We have Mr. Santa, we have Snoopy, we have a little soldier standing guard at the back door.......but we need to keep Christ as the focal point in our decorations.  It can be a help for those who go by or for those who enter our homes (even though that's not happening much lately).  But maybe this is something you can begin with your family.  The kids would love to be on the look out for manger scenes when you drive around and maybe they can be the ones to write the thank you notes!  What a wonderful tradition to instill.

Well the books I'm learning from this week are:

The Christmas ideas from these books are:

*Count your blessings together - as a family, sit around and help each other to remember how God has blessed you in the past.  This is ESPECIALLY important this past year!  Even with everything that's happening, we ALL have been blessed in some way!  Did you remain healthy?  Do you still have a job?  Do you have friends?  Do you have family?  Are you still eating?  Do you still have a house?  The list can go on and on.

*Again, think of what gifts you can make.  This was huge back then.  Of course it would be - they didn't have Hobby Lobby, or the $ store, or Walmart.......  But even if you're not "talented" in making things, gifts of food are wonderful.

*Reminisce together.  This kind of goes with the blessing one, but is different in that you look back and remember the good times you had together.  And, yes, there might be some shedding of tears, but that's okay!  Remembering brings back times with people that are no longer with us and, of course, it can make us melancholy, but it's also a way of keeping the person and memory alive and how much we loved them while they were with us.

*Bring goodies to others.  One fun thing to do is to be a "secret Santa" and drop goodies off - whether that be a neighbor or friends or the workplace.........spread Christmas cheer with goodies.  Who doesn't like goodies?  : )

*Have something to look forward to.  Make Christmas different.  That's what makes it special.  Bake differently than you normally would.  Decorations that come out but once a year.  Gift giving.  It all brings about the anticipation.

*Make popcorn balls.  It seems like the Ingalls family did this only at Christmas.  Again, something to look forward to!  A treat.  I haven't made popcorn balls in years........maybe this year?

The Winter ideas I wrote down from these books are:

*Talk together.  Winter is long and we all need someone to talk to.  So e-mail someone, write letters back and forth, call.  Whatever it takes, talk to someone.

*Get outdoors.  Yes.  Even in winter.  This past week has been a busy one in getting all kinds of things done but one thing that I just had to do was get outside.  After just a 20-minute walk, we felt refreshed and ready to get back to work.  

*Have company to enjoy a cup of tea and dessert.  I know.  This year has changed all that.  But if you have the capability of face time, it can be a great substitution.  If you don't have that capability, planning a time to call someone with both of you making your tea and enjoying your own treat is a good thing as well.

That's what I've compiled from the Little House books on Christmas and Winter ideas.  I hope you can implement some of them in your own lives.  Again, if we keep it simple and remember others, it can take it to the next level of joy.

Next week, will be Part 4 with three more books that I've learned lessons from throughout the years so I hope you will join me for that.  : )

Lastly, I've been thinking a lot about nutrition and how important it is in the winter to fight off colds and flu's and just for helping us to feel better.  I encourage you to eat/live seasonably.  Winter is obviously different than any other part of the year (especially for those of us who live in the "real winter" areas of cold and snow).  We plan our meals differently - around the seasonal foods.  Make sure to include:

*potatoes and other root vegetables
*onions, garlic, and herbs
*stock your pantry with canned fruits and vegetables to use as side dishes
*use canned beans for fiber and protein
*keep eating your leafy greens (especially dark leafy greens) and mix cabbage into your salads
*serve those wonderful winter vegetables like squash, pumpkin, and yams
*make sure to eat lots of citrus fruits for the Vitamin C we need
*provide lots of nuts for magnesium intake
*eat a variety of whole grains
*drink lots of water - winter is dehydrating 
*drink lots of hot beverages especially herbal teas - add a bit of lemon and honey

It has been fun for me to plan my menus around theses foods.  I know I don't do it perfectly, but even adding one or two things daily can provide much nutrition.  Right now it's just so important that we be careful what and how we eat.  Being at home all day can lead to snacking and getting lazy about cooking decent meals and we find ourselves sitting more in the winter.  So, let's all make an effort to improve in this area.  I know it's been hard for me lately (being Christmas) because we like to have the traditional Christmas candy around.  And I know if I'm not careful, I can find myself reaching into the candy jar more often than I should!  But I think if we're aware of our habits, we can still be mindful of controlling ourselves.

That's it for today!!!!  Thank you so much for dropping by.  I do hope it is somewhat of a help to you.  I hope you can enjoy this day the Lord has made for you.  Again, doing something is better than doing nothing.  Let's encourage each other and pray for each other.  God bless.  : )

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Christmas By The Book Part 2


The next page on the calendar - beauty - from the lights of the country church, to the moon shining through with the northern lights above, the old train carrying Christmas passengers, the sleighs, the stream reflecting the lights.............  : )

Welcome to my post today.  I hope you can pick up an idea or two for the weeks ahead as we prepare our hearts and minds for Christmas.  As I've said in my blog for a long time now that no one has to feel like they are to do everything, but just one or two things can make all the difference in the world.  That goes for a variety of things we do - taking care of ourselves, taking care of our homes, organizing, holidays, etc.

If you feel you need the strength and motivation in which to carry anything out this year, please pray about it.  God will supply all your need.  This year more than ever I have learned SO much from the Lord.  He has opened my eyes to many things of which I am grateful.  He has blessed more than I could have ever thought or imagined.  And I truly believe it was all through prayer.

I know.  When you read that, some of you might be tempted to say "well, good for you because that's not what I'm experiencing right now."   When I say that God has blessed me this year, it hasn't been through ease and comfort (although He is gracious enough to give that when needed), it has been through tears and confusion and sadness - but it is in that where all of a sudden you realize things you never realized before.  God does open our eyes when we are willing to hear what He is trying to say to us.  I have gone through lots of times where all I hear is my voice speaking when I really needed to hear His.  And because of the kind of year we had/have, I've been able to slow down enough and sit still long enough in order to do that.  So I encourage you to spend time alone, quietly, with the Lord every morning and hear what He has to say to you.  I think some of it will be surprising, some of it will be comforting, some of it might even be difficult (which we all want to avoid but sometimes it's necessary).

In saying this, I want to go forward and also encourage you in the few little things that I'm going to write about today.  Whether it's just for you, or your husband, or your family, or for your friends, let's continue to think of others in this season of giving.  The best gift we can give is ourselves.  Now.......let's put our thinking caps on and, if necessary, think outside the box if what I have to say isn't "normal" for you.  

The two books that I am going by today are:


Again, these books contain ideas that we can incorporate today.  For Christmas and the upcoming winter months.


*Again, like before, plan a simple but special dinner - turkey was often mentioned, sweet potatoes, homemade bread, and a special cake.  Now..........compared with what we usually do, doesn't this sound deliciously simple but adequate?  Compare that to what we would normally do:  turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, a variety of pickles and olives, dinner rolls, 3 kinds of pie with ice cream and/or whipped topping, coffee, milk, soda.  Hmmmmm..........we kind of overdo it don't we?  Lesson:  keep it simple.

*Spend time thoroughly cleaning your house.  You wonder why this would be such a big deal but I think that when you know your house is clean and in order you feel more like doing other things.  Think about it - you walk into rooms in your house and every room has something that is just staring at you and waiting for you to put it right.  You can't even think about anything else until that room is done.  It just leaves you free to pursue other things.

*Bake your family favorites.  I mentioned this in the last post.  As women, we know what our friends and family like based upon past experience.  It's comforting to THEM when you do this.  Call it tradition if you like, but it is an important part of the holidays.

*Again, try to keep gift giving simple.  If you are not the kind to make things, then the next best thing is to get things that can be used up instead of something they will have to find space for.  Unless you REALLY know the person and unless they have given you some kind of a list of wants/needs, useful gifts are a blessing.

*Almanzo Wilder (Laura's future husband) sounds like he came from a more well-to-do family, so his mother was big on keeping the house in order and having fine things.  So, when I mention above that the Ingall's family kept their meals simple...........Almanzo's mom was a bit more fancy.  Her Christmas dinner included a ham, mashed potatoes, squash, candied yams, gravy, carrots and pies.  But even though it was a "nicer" meal, it sounded like that this type of meal was for special occasions like Christmas which is important.  The kids should see that the meal fits the special time together - something out of the ordinary.  

Winter activities:

*Sewing - this time of the year was/is made for sewing.  Whatever that looks like to you - quilting, dressmaking, home projects, doll clothes, children's clothes, etc.  Also, it's a great time to teach children/grandchildren some basics in sewing.  Now that they're home, it's perfect!!!!  Sewing on a button, mending, hemming.........things that will be useful as they grow up.

*Relax in the evening with no technology - put music on in the background, pull out the arts/crafts/sewing, pop popcorn, read.

*If you have snow, get the kids out to play in it.  Bundle 'em up and push them out the door!  Let them build forts, snowmen, sled.  Get out with them!

*Always have something good cooking or baking.  Nothing makes a home like good smells.

*Keep learning new things - nowadays there is no excuse for not learning.  You can pull any tutorial up on-line and learn.

*Begin to learn and memorize Bible verses.  

*Prepare for the worst - if there was ever a year for that it was this year.  Between lockdowns, quarantines, illness, etc. - I hope we have all learned the lesson of being prepared so that we don't find ourselves without the necessities.  Keep building up those pantries!!!!

That's it for those two books and I will give more ideas from the upcoming books.  Everything that they did is so do-able today and is a good idea to bring some of it back if you haven't already.  My friend made me this a few years ago:

It's a wonderful reminder.  : )

As far as I know, we will celebrate Christmas with our son and his wife, but I also know that there will be times of being alone as well.  So, I've been trying to think of things that my husband and I can do to bring about some Christmas cheer to those we love and care about.  One of the things I would like to do is drop off care packages. distancing (is anyone except me tired of that expression yet?).  But to go to their house, knock on the door, and at least hand them something, say "Merry Christmas" and go on to the next.  Did you know that when women "went calling" they kept their coats on, stayed only for a cup of tea and a bit of conversation and then left?  Nowadays we feel like we have to stay for hours in order for it to be meaningful.  So, if this idea of going from place to place and dropping off Christmas goodies appeals to you but feel like you can't give up a lot of time, don't worry.  Just being able to see the person and engage for a few minutes would mean so much - if not for them, for you!!!!

Here are a few ideas that you could make ahead of time and hand out (the Mason jar gifts):

*chex mix
*pancake mix
*brownie mix
*spiced nuts
*variety of teas
*special coffee
*homemade granola
*chocolate pretzels
*cookie mix
*layers of store bought cookies or homemade
*Christmas candy
*craft items
*popcorn (unpopped)
* can get creative with this!

That's all I have for you today.  I hope it helps in some way.  We are all weary but Jesus says "Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" - ask Him for the rest you need as you go about your work.  God does bless the work of our hands (especially if it is meant for others).  This really can be a meaningful Christmas if we fix our eyes upon Jesus first.  If there are things that don't get done, so be it.  We don't have to do it all.  Do what you can.  

God bless you and thank you for dropping by!!!!!!!  


Monday, November 30, 2020

Christmas By The Book Part 1


From our home to yours.

One of the things that I find myself needing to do every year is to bring out the books and magazines for ideas and inspiration for Christmas decorating.  I had the outside of the house all planned out since late summer when it dawned on me that maybe we should try to bring light to a dark time.  We had a few warm days in early November when my husband was able to at least put the lights up and then as it started cooling down we brought the rest out.

Try as I might I just couldn't get a good photo - but don't you just love the moon over the house?

I'm hoping with every car that passes by it will give them a bit of cheer.  I know it always makes me happy when we go out and look at lights knowing that someone has put in a little effort for us to enjoy.

We had such a windy day yesterday that we went out several times picking things up that were toppled over.  Here is how we found Santa in our back yard:

Notice the little bear - he's looking away - I think there's a bit of embarrassment on his part.

Christmas decorations on the inside of the house have always gone up Thanksgiving weekend, so this year I slowly pulled things out.  I knew I wanted the outside all decorated up, but there was a part of me that hesitated about the inside.  Like a lot of people this year I, too, am having a difficult time of it.  Several people in my extended family are really experiencing a lot (and that is an understatement).  And while putting up the decorations I had to sit and pause and think.  Usually I tear through everything and get it all set up - not this year.  I needed times of pausing and the shedding of a few tears.  Get back up and do a bit more and go and sit again.  In the past I would have just called it good and not go much further with it, but there were a couple of deciding factors that led me to keep on decorating.  

The first, and most important, is this:

The birth of Jesus.

I know.  We don't have to decorate and put up a tree and bring out the Christmas "treasures" in order to celebrate the birth of Christ, but I want to. I need to.  In this very hard and difficult year, it's been a time of getting closer to God for me.  I feel I have so much to be grateful for even in this time we all find ourselves in.  

The second reason came from a book that I pull out every year:

It was in this book that my eyes were opened to how men feel at Christmas.  Men don't feel the importance of "doing it all" at Christmas like women do.  We take on the responsibility of planning, shopping, decorating, cooking, baking.........and then all the men see is this blur go by (you) and just wish that you would settle down.  In this book it taught me to ask what my husband thought was important, what he liked, etc.  I did this when our son was growing up too.  For the guys, it's surprising how little they want.  In our family the list looked like this:

*Watch Christmas movies together
*Decorate the house
*Drive around and look at lights
*Have Christmas music playing
*Just a couple of favorite foods/baked goods
*Play games together

That's it!  It really helped me to see that my expectations for Christmas far exceeded what they wanted and it helped me to be able to simplify.  But because my husband is retired and at home, I really think it's important to make our home pretty and comfortable so that he can relax and enjoy it.  And because our son and his wife celebrate with us, it's important that our son comes into our home and it has the feeling of home that he grew up with.  All the old favorites.

So, even though I may not have felt much like decorating this year, I did it.  For them.  And, to be completely honest, once I began it made me feel much better too.  

One thing that I've noticed this year is that I have been listening to Christmas music since September BUT have not been able to listen to the music with the words, only the melody.  I don't know why, but I'm just more soothed by the instrumental version of all my favorite songs.  They seem more beautiful somehow.  

Another thing that I've found very helpful in getting through this year and putting things into perspective for Christmas is re-reading the "Little House" books.  I just find that I learn SO much from them!  Talk about people who experienced tough times!  Yet they got through - they had fortitude - they just knew how to get by (with very little), yet were quite happy and enjoyed life.

The first book:

These are especially good if you have children and/or grandchildren around, but it's still applicable for everyone.  Here is what I wrote down in my notebook while reading:

Christmas ideas from the Ingalls:

*Make gifts - I know this is daunting and in our modern world why would we when we can buy everything?  I think that for some people in our lives (okay, maybe not the guys) a little homemade something would be very nice.  It takes some thought and effort, but maybe that's part of the gift as well.
*Cook/bake family favorites - at Christmas, we all have our favorite meals, our favorite candy, our favorite cookies.  Bless your loved ones with these.  The thing that keeps it special is when you save it just for this time of year.  
*Provide hospitality - again, I know this year is the year of no, or very little, hospitality but it won't be forever.  Hospitality is an important part of the holidays - this year it's just being done a bit differently.  It's all about the thinking of others and what we can do for them.
*Keep the presents simple - we have created Christmas to be all about the gifts and, yes, it's a fun part of it, but there is no reason that we can't begin to scale back.  For Laura and Mary, a bit of candy, a new doll, and new mittens was a real treat!
*Plan a simple, but special breakfast.  It was special because it was different - it wasn't the same thing that they had to eat every morning.  
*Plan a simple, but special dinner.  You don't have to go all out with every kind of appetizer known to man and a whole variety of beverages to go with.  You don't have to exhaust yourself in trying to please every appetite - just think simple, but special.  It should be a treat.  Something to look forward to.

Winter wonders from the Ingalls: (to stay active during the winter months)

*Indoor chores - seriously, not everything has to be fun!!!!  But chores NEED to be done and the rule was always "work first, play later" - good advice!
*Fun activities - hobbies, play games, get creative 

Do you see the simplicity in all of these things?  They are all so do-able yet so nice and homey and special.  During the difficult times we can create good memories.  I wonder how many times Ma woke up and knew that life was going to be especially hard that day and all they had to eat were a few potatoes and some tea and milk that the cow gave?  Yet she did it.  According to Laura, they were happy and content.  To me, that's amazing.

I encourage you, dear ladies, in this.  

My favorite vintage angels.

And a few Santas.

A favorite ornament.

A few of my favorite things.

May God bless you in your efforts.  May He bring you close to Him as you bless your friends and family in one of the most difficult times we've experienced in a long time.  

Thank you for dropping by - I appreciate it so much.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Getting Down to Business!!!


A past photo from "up north".

As the holidays fast approach, I realized that I have to "get down to business" - and I know........this is a strange year and more and more mandates are being put into place but I'm determined to still "do" the holidays this year!!!!!  That is ONE thing that they cannot mandate.  Whether we are by ourselves or with just one or two people, we can still make it special.  Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for the many blessings we've received throughout the year - we can do that.  And Christmas is about the birth of our Savior Jesus and we can celebrate that too.  I sat down a couple of days ago and wrote some ideas down and wanted to share them with you as well.  So here it goes!  : )

I apologize ahead of time for not having any photos this week about anything that I've read or cooked or baked, etc. - I don't have a fancy phone that has a camera so I don't have that capability and I don't carry my regular camera around with me all day, so it's not until after the fact that I remember that I didn't take photos.  So, I'm sorry about that.  I know, personally, I love photos along with what I'm reading so I'll try to get better at that.

One of my favorite vintage cookbooks has such excellent ideas on various ways of celebrating life.  I thought one of the ideas would be great for all of you who are homeschooling right now.  And I may have suggested this before but it's great to bring up now for the holiday season and the upcoming winter months.  And that is to have theme nights for cooking different meals - "around the world" menus where you, as a family, (or just you!) to choose a different part of the world and do some research on what they cook and eat and try different recipes to replicate that.  Ideas would include - Italy, Spain, England, France, Middle East, etc., or even just different areas of our own country such as the New England area, the South, the Midwest, the Southwest, etc. - such a fun way to learn!  With this you can:

*Treat yourself if you live alone - I think now, more than ever, we have to keep our minds and bodies occupied and keep learning - let it be enjoyable and fun.

*Invite someone over (safely) and share in the fun together - maybe you (or they) have family recipes that have been passed down from "the old country" and you can learn together.

*Fortunately, some of us have the ability to "meet" with others via on-line - you can each cook something separately and then have a time where you can have your meals "together" and chat.

*Take your meal to someone and explain what you've been doing and maybe include a little write-up on what country you've been cooking from and the recipe so that they can make it too.  I know "they" are saying that we shouldn't be cooking for others so I'm just assuming that we will all do the right thing and in the end it's kind of up to the person you will be giving the meal to.  If they are okay with it (and they probably would appreciate it) then do it!!!

Let this be fun.  Get really creative.  Take notes - perhaps a scrapbook of everything you've learned - what a great thing to have and look at in years to come.  Right now it is SO important that we make the best of things.  FORTITUDE is our word for the year!

The next idea is to make the most out of winter.  I think we tend to hold up in our houses and, like an animal in hibernation, we come out in the spring!  But fresh air is so healthy and we need to keep our bodies moving - I know that's easier said than done.  Around here in the thick of winter it can get down to double digits below zero so, of course, we need to be cautious.  But right now when it's not all that bad yet, let's get out.  One of the ideas in the cookbook was to go for a winter hike - and then come back to a winter meal of a great warming soup with crackers and cheese, relishes, and a favorite pie for dessert.  A crockpot is excellent for this - it can be holding your warm soup and be all ready for you when you get back.

Or, have a movie night.  Make it a special night at home!  Set a specific time for the movie to begin (just like in the theater) and either plan on eating before the movie begins or wait until after (which is kind of fun and special and something out of the ordinary).  Make sure to make popcorn for the movie and have sodas (for a treat).  If you eat before the movie, make sure you have a special dessert waiting for when it's done.  Remember the times of going out to a movie (when they actually made good movies) and then going out for pie afterwards?  You can emulate that in your home.  If you have children or grandchildren, this could really be a fun and special night.

This goes for game night.  Plan a special meal - or just have a whole bunch of munchies and fun beverages.  Or, how about putting a puzzle out for everyone (or just you!) to work on?  

The whole idea is to make the most out of what we have now.  And women, we are the ones that make things happen in our homes.  We are the ones that need to come up with the ideas and carry them through.  Yes, I know, we tend to wish that everyone else would help us but sometimes that is not the case and we don't want to not do anything!  This time really can be looked back at being very memorable.  I've been doing a LOT of reading about how people made it through the Depression years and ALWAYS, ALWAYS, they've said that though it was extremely difficult, the memories they have of making do and being okay will always be with them.  The lessons they learned were lifelong and it was usually because of all the women who got up and just did what they had to do and to do with very little yet kept life vibrant.  So!  Let's do it!  : )

The next idea is to bring brunches back if it's something you don't normally do.  These are excellent for the weekends.  On Saturdays when we all tend to be a bit slower in getting ready for the day, or Sundays after coming home from church.  I believe in making the weekends a bit different from the rest of the week.  I think we need a couple of days that look different  than the work days so that by the time Monday rolls around you will feel like you have a had a break from the routine.  Make sure that this is special too - make it pretty by bringing out the tablecloth, napkins, teapot or coffeepot, and flowers.  Again, if you have kids they will love this.  And, yes, kids can be taught how to be careful and respectful of nice things!!!!!  Maybe this would be a great opportunity to help them learn these things.  You don't have to be strict and stoic.  If you're on your own, still make it special.  Or invite a friend.  Or, again, plan an on-line meeting with someone.

And how about that daily coffee break during the week?  A lot of people work from home now (and homemakers always do!) and we can still do what we can about taking a break from our work if only for 15 minutes or so.  Maybe this isn't feasible every day, but always have things ready so that when you feel you need a break, you can do it up nicely.  Have a variety of tea or coffee on hand, make some cinnamon toast to go with it, or have sweet treats in the freezer that you can take one out ahead of time to thaw, or even some fresh cut-up fruit.  Take the time to get up from what you're doing, physically go into the kitchen and prepare this little treat and go and sit somewhere that you normally don't sit and enjoy this tiny amount of time in your day.

I know there aren't a lot of parties this year but if you have a family that you still have under your roof or family that you know you can get together with safely (or, of course, a friend or two), make sure that you plan some parties.  Only you can make that determination and others will have to as well.  But keeping some things "normal" is vitally important right now.  Again, if you have children or grandchildren around this time is tough on them and they look to Mom and Dad and/or Grandma and Grandpa to provide some kind of normal.  So my suggestions are:

*a costume party - have them play dress up - choose a (once again) theme, have them make the decorations, cook/bake together.  With the theme can come research on what person they are dressing up to be, etc.

*birthdays - again, get creative - or maybe this year maintaining traditions would be important.

*Christmas party - go all out!  Schools were already ending traditional Christmas parties so YOU be the one to bring it back!  : )  Spend time cutting out snowflakes and hang them up all over.  Make Christmas cards to give.  Play games.  Play Christmas music and if you are a singing family, sing!  Make/bake special treats.  Try to do this with the least amount of money.  Let it be a Christmas to remember.

*Look forward and plan ahead for New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, Snow days.........write down all the ideas you can think of so that when the time comes you'll be ready!

In my opinion, I think one of the reasons this year has been so difficult for all of us is that we've been so used to doing things and getting things whenever we wanted and this all feels like we're being forced into doing without.  And we don't like that.  It HAS been a lonely time but if we work at it (and it DOES take work) it can be as good as it can be under such circumstances.  And, I know I'm repeating myself, but it just takes time and planning ahead.  It will just be different.  Again, that's why I like reading about hardships of the past and how they made do with very little.  We can do that too!  I encourage you in this.  It's good to remember that we're not alone in this - everyone is affected.  So reach out where you can and do your best.

We're in the season of giving thanks and giving to others.  Nothing dispels loneliness like doing for others and once you begin, it's addicting.  You'll constantly be on the lookout for what you can do.  Remember your neighbors and communities:

*give benevolently

*give to the food shelves

*leave a little something at someone's door (be a secret Santa)

*again, keep your eyes and ears open for needs that you can meet

Keep your home up.  Stay tidy and clean and organized.  Keep up your appearances (it really does help into making you feel better).  

Continue to make Sundays special.  If you can't or aren't able to go to church right now, watch a service on-line or listen to a radio church service.  Have a special meal afterwards.  After you clean up from your meal, sit in a comfy chair with some soft music in the background and read a good book or grab something to work on while listening to an audio book.  Rest/nap.  Write a letter.  Call someone.  Take a long, soaking bath.  Bake something.  Do a little food prep for the upcoming week.

If you have a difficult time being alone, never assume that you are the only one.  Don't be afraid to ask someone to get together with you at some point.  Even a daily phone call will work.  If you have a church, ask the office if they know of others that are alone and reach out to them.  Maybe just getting together one-on-one for a coffee once in a while is all you need.  I think a lot of us suffer in silence because we feel we don't want to bother anyone but that shouldn't be.  Let's make an effort this year - you could be the one that will be of great help to someone else!

One idea for Christmas that I thought about this past week was if you do find yourself alone for Christmas, how about "getting together" with someone else in that you both agree to send each other care packages/gifts (all wrapped) and then either call each other or have Facetime on-line on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  Have a nice tea and dessert together and spend time unwrapping the gifts you've sent to each other so that you can talk and laugh together.  I know it's not the same as actually being in someone else's home or having them in yours but I think it's better than nothing!  Again, being creative and thinking outside the box this year is key.

How about you?  Do you have any ideas for the holidays that will be different?  If we can all pull together and give each other ideas that will be of great help.

Well, I had better end this post.  I hope this has been of some help to you.  I enjoyed writing it.  : )  Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to read what little I have to offer.  God bless you and your weekend!

Saturday, November 7, 2020

This First Saturday in November

A gorgeous picture from the calendar in the computer room - once again, I want to live there!!!  : )

Well, okay, we've lived through a lot this year haven't we?  I keep saying that I would have been just fine not having been a part of a historic year thank you very much.  But here we are.  It keeps on going.  Everything strange or bizarre that happens anymore we just chalk it up to 2020.  Some years with the prospect of a new year coming up we've tended to look forward to it.  After all, a new year means a new beginning.  Starting over.  Starting fresh.  It doesn't feel that way this year.  It feels like we'll take all that we've been through this past year and carry it over into another year.  That can make us weary and sad and frustrated and angry............but we, as Christians, believe that God really IS in control and that He IS Sovereign, and that He IS STILL on His Mighty Throne in Heaven, and that nothing happens in this world without His "okay" - then we have to have the fortitude to hang in there and do what we can to live each day that He has ordained for us.  That is called hope.  We need hope right now.

Even though the election didn't turn out the way a lot of us would have liked, I still believe that God is using this time to get to the bottom of things.  Already there have been lots of cases of voter fraud and how some states have used software that was illegal - things like that - and it needs to be found out and people need to be held accountable.  I'm trusting that God will see to all of that by using the right people at the right time.  But we can't stop praying either.  It's amazing how when we get into a fix we pray, pray, pray.........but we should pray, pray, pray ALL the time!!!!!  Maybe this is another lesson God wants us to learn by all of this.  Maybe we're too fickle about our prayers - pray when it suits US instead of praying ALWAYS.

One thing is that if we have been voted out of being a Democracy, we will have to get ready to be Socialist and what all that means.'s not good.  Reading up on it will show you just how different this country of ours - a land of freedom - will look like.  Are we ready for that?  I don't think so, yet that is what people voted for.  Another lesson from God?  Maybe.  What if He saw that we were using our freedoms, again, to suit US instead of for the good of all.  Were we REALLY all that passionate about the life of the unborn child?  Do we REALLY care about the elderly?  What about caring for the needy while we have it so good?  Did we lift a finger to help?  Are we getting what we deserve?  I know that is harsh, but I really think these are things we have to think about.  Were we part of the solution or part of the problem?  Only each one of us can answer those questions - and I can honestly say that I certainly am not blameless.  

After all of that, life does go on and maybe it doesn't seem fit to talk about anything homemaking, I will:

*I had posted last time that our oven pooped out on us and we couldn't get it fixed until yesterday, but I had purchased several crockpots over the years and they really came in handy this past week.  I really did find out that there are very few things that you cannot make in the crockpot.  Here are things that I prepared with wonderful results -

Baked potatoes
Acorn squash
Beef stew
Chuck roast
Whole chicken
BBQ chicken legs
Chicken broth (made from the whole leftover chicken)

I went through our freezer and took out the above meats to thaw in the fridge throughout the week.  These were meats at the bottom of the freezer that we had purchased in March at the beginning of all the talks of lockdowns.  And, since it was just the oven that needed repair, I still had the stovetop so I was able to cook that way too.  Slow cookers are SO inexpensive now so it's definitely a wise thing to have them on hand.  They can be tucked away in a closet or in the basement when not in use.  

*The weather could not have been better this past week (of course it will change next week!) so a LOT of outdoor work was done.  Raking, pulling up old flowers, saving seeds from some of those old flowers first before tossing them (marigolds, zinnias), redistributing the pumpkins that have made it from the cold and rearranging things on the front porch to last us until Thanksgiving.  My husband is even beginning to put up our Christmas lights so that he won't have to freeze like he does every year.  So today is the big push to get that done before the change of weather begins.

*The old adage - "when it rains, it pours" - was the theme this week.  First it was the oven, now it's the bathroom shower - THAT pooped out on us yesterday morning and it can't be fixed until Monday!  We only have one bathroom so that's why it's a big deal.  It's not like we don't have any water so we all know there are other ways to wash our hair and clean our skin!  I was thinking yesterday that there have been many times in my life that, because I grew up poor and not having much, in a way I'm thankful for it.  It helps me get through times of "not having" such as the oven and the shower (even though not having those two things wasn't the end of the world!!!!).  But it all depends on what you get used to always having and when you don't have them anymore, you feel it.  It really was a reminder that I need to always be grateful for the little things.  

*I think I always knew this about myself but this past week was just a reminder that for me I can't do something for pleasure until my work is done.  There were a couple of times during the week when I went into my sewing/craft area to work on something but I just didn't have any peace about it because I knew that other things needed to get done. first, play later!!!!!!!!!  : )

*When I DID get into my room I worked on:

- This is called a "quilt to give" - it's not a full size quilt, just something to cover up with when sitting around.  I worked all year on crocheting each "quilt" block and then sewed them together.  I took all day last Friday and Saturday to piece and sew it together because I really wanted to get it done before the holidays so that I can give it away.  Even though this took SO much time it really was fun to do and I'm looking forward to working on another one!  I'm also continuing to work on knitting scarves to give as well.  I'm not telling you this to brag about it, I'm telling you so that maybe I can spark an interest in you to think about doing something for others this year for the holidays/winter months.  If you knit, crochet, sew........there are SO many projects to work on and don't we all need some projects that can get our minds off ourselves and onto others?  : )

- I'm starting to work on Thanksgiving cards for the senior center, and for family and friends.  Again, it takes a lot of time, but such a pleasant and creative thing to do.  How can you show your thankfulness this year to those you love and care about?

- I'm beginning to make a few Christmas gifts as well.  I enjoy embroidery so I'm stamping some dish towels to be given as gifts.

It's been so nice with this warm weather to just open the windows and craft away!!!!!!  (AFTER my work though - LOL)  : )

I think that is about it for this post.  That was pretty much my week - outdoor work, cooking with my crockpot, crafting, and always cleaning something.  : )  I do encourage you today to get your work done in your home, cook something really tasty, get creative, think of others.  Enjoy the process of the doing and be grateful.  A little work and gratitude go a LONG way to feeling better.

Thank you SO much for stopping by - I appreciate all of you - and may God bless you.  : )


Saturday, October 31, 2020

The End of Another Month


Every year we have at least one pumpkin and one squirrel who is determined to get inside!  : )

Well, here we are!  The end of October - why does it seem like it took forever and flew by at the same time?

As much as last week was a week of "doing" this week was a week of getting business done so not much happened in the "doing" other than what really needed it.  But some weeks are like that, aren't they?  I feel like we are now embarking on the busy time of year - I also feel like we can't seem to go far in our plans for upcoming holidays because no one seems to know what that even will look like this year!  So there is a sense of being "on hold" - it feels like everything will be at the last minute this year and that doesn't set well with me (being a planner type person).  But it is what it is and we all just have to go with it.  

It won't keep me from keeping our home decorated and clean and cared for and it won't keep me from beginning to buy Christmas gifts, and it won't keep me from thinking about how we can give to others.  There are times, I have to admit, when I look at something that I'm doing and asking if it even really matters.  But it does.  Life still goes on and things still need to be done and there are people who need us to help.  So, with all the uncertainty, let's keep going.  As women, our families look to us for keeping things the same (whatever that means to your family).  So let's all take a deep breath and find our strength in the Lord, and carry on.  

This will be a short post since, like I just said, not a lot got done and no new recipes were tried (as a matter of fact, our oven just pooped out on us - so we're waiting for it to be repaired!).  But I DO have the November to-do's for you (a very short list):

*winterize your shrubs, cut down any perennials that can be cut, clean up the yard

*continue to clean out gutters from all the fallen leaves

*test and begin to hang holiday lights - let's be the bright spot of our neighborhoods!!!!!!!  No matter what, let our light shine in a dark world.

*winterize your car(s)

*begin to shop for Christmas - begin to think of things you can make (nothing says love like a homemade gift)

*begin some holiday baking - breads, cookies and cakes all freeze well.

*think about the important dates in November and what you can do - first Veteran's Day - is there some way that you can honor a veteran this month?  Express your thankfulness to them for the service to our country?  And then, of course, Thanksgiving - send cards to those you are thankful for?  Planning your holiday meal but then make sure that you contribute to the food shelf so that others can plan a meal too?

That's it for November!  If you are interested in taking a bit of a time out from everything, a tea party (whether it's via ZOOM with friends and family, or actually getting together with someone, or just by yourself) here is an idea for that:

*Bring out your best - the nice china teacups, lace tablecloth, flowers

*Serve lemon scones, a beautiful sponge cake, sugar cookies

*Play Liszt, Schubert, or Mendelssohn in the background

Make it special.  : )

I know that this weekend is close to the upcoming election on Tuesday and we ALL have that in our minds and it's very difficult to think about or even care about whether or not we care for our homes today and all the November to-do's or having a "tea party" or anything else that, at any other time, we might have cared about.   I understand that.  I truly do.  And coming from a worrier like me, I mean it when I say that we have to take care that we don't allow everything from keeping us from doing nothing!  It's not healthy.  

As Christian women, we need to be on our knees right now in prayer - there is much at stake.  And I won't go into what all that means because I think we all know.  But when we give it to God in our prayers, we have to let it go and let Him take care of it and we need to get on with the business of living and taking care of what He has entrusted to us.   Fear and worry comes from Satan - he is the confuser of our minds and he wants to keep us busy with nonsense stuff so that we don't have the time to pray and we don't have the time take care of what we have and take care of each other.  Don't give into that.

Also, go out and vote!!!  I just heard yesterday that 30% of Christians did not vote in the 2016 election.  I do not understand that.  It is a freedom that we have taken for granted.  We are in a spiritual battle right now.   We can either live under continued freedom or we can have all the freedoms taken away.  It's literally THAT important.  May the Lord have mercy upon us.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Celebrating A Good Week


Fall?  😕

We live close to the airport and they reported 7 inches of snow, so I suppose that's pretty much what we got.  It was the heavy, wet kind of snow so it kept packing down and didn't look like as much as they said.  It WAS very pretty, but it caught all of us with some of the outdoor work uncompleted.  There are still a lot of leaves left on the trees - do we go out and rake the snow?  Hmmm................

More pictures:

One thing that a first major snowfall does with me is that I feel the need to just sit with a project, open the curtains, and look at the snow coming down and that's exactly what happened on Tuesday afternoon!  I sat in my rocking chair, pulled out the knitting, put an audio book on (Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie) and just watched the snow.  😊  I already had a crockpot meal in so I knew that supper was pretty much done - it was a wonderful afternoon.

The title of my post may seem a bit strange to some who feel like "celebrating" is for something special like a holiday but when I have a good week it really does feel like something to celebrate because as I get older it's beginning to take on a whole new meaning.  When I say that I had a "good week" it means that physically I felt good - all my normal aches and pains were gone.  It means that I was able to keep up with my homemaking - this was Week 3 of the month which meant I got into each bedroom and deep-cleaned.  All the surfaces - walls, shelves, ledges, floors, mirrors, pictures, furniture, ceiling fans.......were dusted and washed.  Closets were cleaned and organized and a few things tossed or put in the "to give" pile.  And now I can go to Week 4 next week (Basement) knowing that I can just concentrate on that instead of feeling like I left some things upstairs undone.

Celebrating a good week to me also means that I was in contact with a couple of friends via phone and enjoyed a nice, long conversation with them to get caught up.  Celebrating a good week meant that I was able to finish up my Veteran's Day cards for the Senior center and hoping that it will bring a little sunshine to them.  It meant that I was able to work on a quilting project.

All of these things may seem common to most, but for me each one of them meant something wonderful.  The ability to feel good, to work, to have contact with friends, to do for others, and to satisfy the need to be creative is worthy of celebrating in my book!!!!! 😊

There was a point, however, in my deep cleaning where I felt like it was taking a long time to complete and I was getting a little impatient about it - I had to stop and remind myself that before complaining about a certain chore that needs to be done I need to ALWAYS remember how blessed I am for even having a home in which to work in!   We had our son and his wife over last Sunday for a meal and talk of this subject came up.  I was talking about some of the podcasts I watch and how it seems like some women seem to have it all and do it all and do it all perfectly and there was a comment on one of these podcasts saying how lovely and wonderful everything is but it can also lead to feelings of discontent.  I happened to agree with that.  It happens also when I look through certain magazines - it makes me begin to look at what others have and then I look at my home and see how tiny it is and how old everything is beginning to get and discontentment creeps in.  So.........I have to make an effort to remember how much I have instead of what I don't have!  We all agreed to that.  There will always be someone who has "more" - but that shouldn't make us feel like we have nothing.   

Just being able to get up this morning and turn the furnace up to warm the house, just to pour a cup of hot coffee, just to be able to dive into the Bible and the ability to read it, just looking forward to a hot shower and clean clothes to put on and three square meals today and a roof over our heads and a bed to crawl into tonight.............we ARE taken care of and we are blessed.  So, a reminder to self - don't complain about the chores and put everything I watch and read in perspective and continue to always be thankful and grateful.  😊

The other thing I was thinking about (I do a LOT of thinking while working - LOL) was for all of us to keep being diligent in keeping traditions alive in this crazy world.  Don't give them up just because everything else seems to be falling apart around us.  This is especially important if you have children or grandchildren.  They need stability and they need to know that some things don't change especially with the holidays coming up.  I think this year has worn us out - we are weary and we don't feel motivated and there is a lot of anxiety but thinking about what we can do to bring some joy and comfort and fun into our lives and the lives of others is so very important!  What are some games you can bring out?  What meals can you prepare?  What baking do you enjoy?  What are some family traditions that you can begin again?  How are you going to do the holidays this year?  I would encourage you to sit down today and write things down - it doesn't matter if you get to all of them, but something is better than nothing!!!!!  Even if you don't feel like doing it, just do it!!!!  It IS important.

I don't know what it is about this time of year that brings the "notebooking" out in me.  I love making notebooks and jotting things down.  It's fun to look at from year to year and it helps in the above idea I just mentioned about keeping the traditions alive and it helps in making new traditions as well.  Some ideas are:

*A notebook for Autumn - recipes (old and new), special outings, special get-togethers, photos, cut pictures out of magazines, memories..........
*A notebook for Thanksgiving - again, holidays may look a little different this year, but do what you can - favorite recipes, theme studies on the 1st Thanksgiving, study lives of Native Americans and Pilgrims, write down Bible verses that talk about giving thanks (there are a LOT!), your favorite Thanksgiving foods, past memories.........
*A notebook about Christmas - recipes (old and new), special memories, old traditions, gift lists, decorating ideas, card lists........

The sky is the limit!!!!  If you haven't done this in the past, let this year be the year.  Have your children and/or grandchildren help.  They would love to write in these, they would love to study up on certain things (when you make it fun), they would love to help in the kitchen - SO wonderful for all of you who are homeschooling this year!!!!!! 😁

All the 2021 calendars are out now and I found mine!

my dream is to have an old red truck - I know I won't get one but I will be able to look at them all year!

Last week I gave a list of blogs that I like and I wanted to add to that:

*sallieborrink - if you homeschool, this is who you need!
*blessed homemaking

I'll keep giving you more as I think of them.  

I tried a couple of new recipes this week (a pumpkin one - Yea!!!! and a bread machine bread) and wanted to share them with you because they were very good.


1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 pt. heavy whipping cream
8 oz. package softened cream cheese
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp vanilla 

Whisk the heavy whipping cream in bowl of standing mixer until thickened and set aside.  In another bowl add condensed milk, 1 Tbsp. vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg - mix until well combined and smooth.  In yet another bowl, beat the cream cheese with 1 tsp. vanilla and whip that until smooth.  Add the pumpkin mixture to the cream cheese mixture and combine well.  Lastly, fold in the whipped cream.  Add to a freezer container, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 6 hours or overnight.

This really is tasty!  We enjoyed it with a drizzle of caramel sauce on top.  Yep.  😋

BREAD MACHINE CHEDDAR BREAD - (I'm just going to give you the way I prepared this because I use my bread machine on the "dough" cycle which is about 1 1/2 hours and then take it out, knead it for a minute and put it into the bread pan to rise for another hour and bake - I don't bake the bread in the machine):

In bread machine pan, add 1 cup warm water, 1/4 cup buttermilk blend powder, 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar, 4 1/2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, 3 cups bread flour, and 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast.  Select the "dough" cycle and after the time is up, just knead lightly and put it into a greased loaf pan.  Cover and let it rise for about an hour and bake at 375 for about 35-40 minutes - checking regularly depending on your oven.   SO GOOD!!!!!!

I had Split Pea soup in the crockpot and then with this baking......oh, my.  Isn't it amazing that a meal of a simple soup and hot bread is about the best?  I cut up some apples for a side.  LOVE meals like this!!  I hope you can give it a try.  I've had this recipe for a long time so I thought it was time to try it - I believe it came from a "Taste of Home" magazine.  

In my opinion, homemade bread tastes best the day of, but we found that this bread made some really good toast and it made even better croutons for our salad!  For the croutons, just cut them up into chunks, put on a baking pan, toss with some olive oil and garlic salt (or any other seasoning you'd like), bake in the oven (350 degrees) for a few minutes (be sure to check them often as they can get too dark if left in too long).  So, so good.  We have some left so I'm thinking they will be great on top of our tomato soup today.  😋  Hope you can try this one too!!!!!

Lastly, I'm finished with my Nehemiah book and wanted to share the last of what quotes I underlined:

*"My dear fellow Christians, if you mean business for God in these desperate days, I suggest to you we need an examination of every part of our lives..........."

*"To be quick in understanding the fear of God and the will of God is always to be merciless to everything that is contrary to the will of God, no matter how much it hurts."

*"To serve Him here for a reward is not our motive, but it is a tremendous strength in the battle to know that one day there will be a 'Well done' awaiting us if we have been faithful to Him."

*"We are all engaged in an intense spiritual warfare in which there will be no armistice until we reach heaven.  Satan hurls all his fiery darts at the child of God who is abandoned to the will of God, and at the church which is concerned to have a soul-winning ministry."

*"What a day it will be when the Lord welcomes us home!  Indeed, it will be worth it all when we see Jesus."

*"Circumstances which we have resented, situations which we have found desperately difficult, have all been the means in the hands of God of driving the nails into the self-life which so easily complains."

SO good, isn't it?  Again, the name of this book is "Victorious Christian Service" by Alan Redpath if you'd like to order your own copy.  This book is staying on my shelf and I will read it again.  Also, I would suggest that you go to your Bible and read for yourself the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament.  It's one of my favorite books in that Nehemiah was obedient and he withstood all the evil forces against his obedience.  Charles Stanley always says - "Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him" - Nehemiah did just that.

Well it is time, once again, to end this post and begin our day.  Thank you SO much for taking a few moments out of your day to visit.  I appreciate you.  😊  I truly hope you can enjoy your home and give thanks for it and be motivated to do something.  It's important work.  God bless!