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!!!!!!!