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Monday, December 24, 2007

Wishing You the Merriest, the Merriest!



Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart... filled it, too, with a melody that would last forever. ~ Bess Streeter Aldrich



What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace. ~ Agnes M. Pharo


Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world - stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death - and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas. ~ Henry Van Dyke


Wishing you all a perfectly love-filled Christmas because that is exactly what the Lord has in mind for you! Take care...catch you on the flip side...


Quote Source

Picture Source

Sunday, December 23, 2007

They are...

Do you plan a Christmas breakfast? I hope that you do. It sets the stage for the remainder of the day. One can't plan it too early if you have been up late on Christmas Eve, but nine o'clock seems close to right. Plan-ahead breakfast casseroles are a wonderful way to just pop something into the oven, pour the orange juice, brew the coffee, serve the rolls, and have the time to sit down with your family.

My grandmother always prepared a lumberjack's breakfast Christmas or not. Her everyday set of dishes was Fiestaware. In my mind's eye, I can see her kitchen table laden with those brightly colored dishes. At each table setting a small plate rested atop the larger and upon that small plate a grapefruit half drizzled with maple syrup sat beckoning. I can smell the bacon frying in her cast iron skillets. She'd take special care with our egg orders and was usually successful with perfection. My sister and I were in charge of the toaster and we kept piece after piece of bread coming or going. I see the honey jar and the marmalade and jam bottles all together. Nan always had real butter (my own mother had switched to margarine); my sister attributes her love of butter to those breakfasts at Nan's. Many happy times were spent around my grandmother's breakfast table.

All this leads me to the answer to yesterday's question. And, really, BumbleVee is the closest. Yes, B-Vee, those Santa caps really are party hats for — eggs. That's right! They're egg warmers! Say what? Eggs need to be warmed? My head, easily confused on the best day, was really grappling with this concept. Well, you can see right here. This is the actual conversation that Mrs. G. and I had just yesterday via MSN.

Mrs.G: what are you doing up? you are supposed to be in bed

Me: I was in bed until my head got so busy that my body had to get up. Have been wrapping gifts.

Mrs. G: thanks for wrapping the egg warmers

Me: You're welcome

Mrs. G: not kitschy then?

Me: They're adorable, you could make garlands with them, wouldn't that be cute?

Mrs. G: too much work for garlands...I put mini hats on the declaration because I figured if you had never heard of egg warmers, the customs guy might not have either

Me: Is it a German thing?

Mrs. G: I don't think so...my dad used to wrap Sunday eggs in a couple of towels for those coming later

Me: Why do they need to be warmed?

Mrs. G: my aunt made me cute ones for Easter one year-chickens

Me: Don't you get to the table on time?

Mrs. G: a boiled egg will cool rather quickly

Me: Don't you boil them all together in one pan?

Mrs. G: yes, vee, we set the table, last we boil the eggs and put them in the cups

Me: I just don't get it

Mrs. G: that's obvious

Me: I think that these will wind up as ornaments on the tree

Mrs. G: North Americans are more familiar with fried eggs for breakfast, i think

Me: So do the eggs sit in an egg cup and wear their little caps?

Mrs. G: yep, now you got it

Me: egg cups...that's next on the list

Mrs. G: oh no, you don't have any? LOL

Mrs. G: What about your son?

Me: He's lucky to have a plate and a fork

Mrs. G: lmao, tree ornaments they are then!

Look, Mrs. G, I found the perfect egg cups for these little caps! Wonder if I can talk the kids into serving soft-boiled eggs on Christmas morning... You may make a civilized person out of me yet. Thanks for all your patient explanations. ;>



Picture Source

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hmmmm, What Are They?



Yesterday, six beautifully knitted Santa caps arrived. Aren't they sweet?

My dear friend from Manitoba sent them to me and it's taken three instant message discussions to figure out exactly what they are. They have a distinct function besides just looking cute. Anyone out there recognize them? I'll tell you tomorrow; until then, I know that you'll all be beside yourselves with curiosity.

Thank you, everyone, for feeling my pain. I appreciated it immensely! Nothing like some empathy...heck I'll even take pity at this point. LOL!

Sandi, don't worry...the candy in question was not the Velveeta Peanut Butter Fudge...that's coming up next!

Even though the scarf didn't work out, the tea towels came out cute. Well, I think so anyway. Edited to Add: These patterns were found at Turkey Feathers.

Finally, I was visiting with my grandmother today and she had received the most adorable three-dimensional card. I found the online addy and HERE it is. This is an example of one of their Christmas cards.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Staggering

I need some cozy jammies and a warm bed. A tall beverage with brandy in it would be nice, too.

What's the trouble you ask? Well, and thank you for asking, the scarf that I have been knitting through every snatched moment is in the garbage. Yes. And, given its condition, that's the best place for it. Sometimes things just can't be unraveled. Perhaps they could be, but would it be worth the time and the trouble? No. So the scarf joins the ruined candy and becomes merely stuff to write about.

Anyone else having troubles with anything? Gift wrap multiplying in your dining room? Crumbs in the keyboard? Dishes stacked to the rafters? Ice lining the drive?

(Imagine a woman bathing in a suds filled old-fashioned claw footed tub with candle glow lighting her face.)

Perhaps a nice long soak in a warm tub will soothe the aching muscles and, if that's not enough, you can head to Abbie's Place: Whimsy of a Staggering Woman where you'll find Whose Woods Are These...nice song, too.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Joseph's Song

Understanding the entire story requires thinking about it in many different ways. My favorite way to fully appreciate a movie or a book is to study it from the viewpoint of just one person. My friend Beth taught me this when Forrest Gump first came out and she had gone to see it repeated times. I asked her whatever she was doing and she said that she watched the movie from one character's viewpoint, then she returned to watch it from another's. Interesting and valuable on so many levels.

And that's really how I became interested in Joseph's part of the Nativity story. He is so vague a character, yet he played such a crucial role. I want to know more about Joseph. I really do.



Joseph's Song
by Michael Card

How could it be this baby in my arms
Sleeping now, so peacefully
The Son of God, the angel said
How could it be

Lord I know He's not my own
Not of my flesh, not of my bone
Still Father let this baby be
The son of my love

Father show me where I fit into this plan of yours
How can a man be father to the Son of God
Lord for all my life I've been a simple carpenter
How can I raise a king, How can I raise a king

He looks so small, His face and hands so fair
And when He cries the sun just seems to disappear
But when He laughs it shines again
How could it be


Clicking on the words to the song will take you to YouTube where you can see a meaningful video and listen to the words. I hope that you will enjoy that as much as I have enjoyed this song since I first heard it years ago.

Picture Source (Now there's some meaning if one wants to peel back the layers...we are adopted into God's family just as Joseph adopted Jesus as his very own.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Fudge, Fudge, Call the Judge

All that shopping went very well...I am done...almost...just a few last minute things that must be gathered in.

Last night I stayed up excruciatingly late...brain burning late...to finish wrapping gifts. Then, at two in the morning, I decided it would be a very good time to cast on some stitches for a scarf. Why am I making gifts at this late date? Yes, please tell me. This is not a rhetorical question. Please do not include "crazy" in the explanation, though.

Sis and I have decided that tonight is our night. No beloved! No kids! No parents! No friends. :> She's making a meatloaf, baked potatoes, salad, and some sort of veggies for supper. Yippee! Gotta love days when I don't have to think about making supper.

This afternoon, I am making peanut butter fudge. I am making peanut butter fudge despite the foul weather that may well affect its outcome. It's late, it's late, it's fearfully, frightfully late...

Leaving you with a photo of last year's peanut butter fudge session. Licking the spoon is always the best part!


P.S. Barbara and Alan are celebrating 48 years of wedded bliss today. Isn't that marvelous? Best wishes to them both on such an anniversary! (ETA: The date says 1959, but just now I could have sworn that it said 2353. ;>)
Allowed to stand

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holiday Home Tour

One of my favorite things to do is to slap down my $25 and spend a day following maps to other people's homes for a Holiday Home Tour. One of the best is the Paris Hill Home Tour that runs alternate years. I didn't think that this was their year, but it was. Wahhhhhh, and I missed it! The other is a fundraiser for the YMCA. Love that one, too.

But this year, I have been enjoying the marvelous tours sponsored by BooMama among others. Am I participating? Right! No, I am not participating; I am sending you along to see what the others are doing. LOL! I have all the decorating talent of Mr. Parker in "A Christmas Story." But I do have a Red Ryder bb gun. See?


Speaking of which, Linda of Restyled Home did a wonderful piece on A Christmas Story. Did you know (you do if you watched the TODAY show over the weekend) that a man has bought and restored the home? SOURCE Click here for a direct link and enjoy seeing some of the actors posing in the living room of the newly restored home.

Okay, back to blogging house tours... One of my very favorites is featured as this month's cottage of the month at The Old Painted Cottage. And look around more while you're there for the runners' up homes. Lovely!

I'm off for a day of shopping. Ohhhhhhhh, the horror! Later...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Snowy Days=Baking Days

Just as I decided that yesterday's snowy day would pass by without my baking anything...a rarity...a friend called to say that in a few hours he'd be over for the season finale of Survivor China. What? The season finale so soon?! I vaguely remember that at the end of Thursday's show there was some sort of announcement, but I was slipping off into sleep. Oh yes, Survivor is riveting. It is.

Anyway, can't have a Survivor finale without a treat...definitely not rice. As inspiration waned, I ran smack into Linds's recipe for Cinnamon Cake, which you can find by following the link. Linds has a terrific blog called Rocking Chair Reflections; I very much enjoyed spending time there.


Everything that she said about her cake recipe is true. It filled the house with the most Christmasy aroma of cinnamon and sugar. This cake was a definite hit. We only have a couple of pieces left this morning. My oven temperature is not accurate so it took a long time for this cake to finish baking, but the smell made the wait well worth it.


So, check out Linds's picture of her cinnamon cake on her blog. That's how it really should look. :) You won't regret baking this one!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hoopla Tag :)


Sandi from Holding Patterns has tagged me and, in the interest of holiday frivolity, I am playing along plus I really adore Sandi and I want to make her happy. It's an honor to be tagged. Yes, it is! And you'd best be remembering that when I get around to tagging you! :) (Do please stick around for the final paragraph so I can share what I was planning to say prior to being tagged. Thank you!)


Sooooo, here are the rules:

1. List 12 random things about you that have to do with Christmas.
2. Please refer to it as a 'HOOPLA' and not the dreaded 'm'-word (I'm not sure what this means ladies, I'm guessing the ME word, I sure hope it's not the MERRY word!)
3. You have to specifically tag people when you're done. None of this "if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged" stuff is allowed...then nobody ends up actually doing it. The number of people who you tag is really up to you -- but the more, the merrier to get this 'hoopla' circulating through the blogosphere.
4. Please try and do it as quickly as possible. The Christmas season will be over before we know it and I'd like to get as many people involved as possible.

All righty then here we go...

1. On my dad's side of the family, I am the sixth grandchild of 16. On my mother's side, I am the first grandchild of two. Want to hazard a guess as to where I spent my Christmases? Very good! Yes, indeed, we spent Christmases with my mother's mother and my mom's step-dad. (As my own grandfather's best friend, this dear man was the only grandfather I ever knew and I've never thought of him as anything less than a true grandfather.)

2. When we were little children, we traveled the 250 miles to their home. When we were older (teen years), they came to us. Guess our stuff got to be a problem getting into the car.

3. One of my favorite Christmas memories is of drifting to sleep in my grandmother's flannel-sheeted bed on a cold Christmas Eve listening to her play the piano with my grandfather accompanying her on his violin. Christmas carols have never sounded any lovelier.

4. Christmas is NOT my favorite holiday. I like it. It's nice. It's just not my favorite... way too much HOOPLA for me!

5. Keepers of Christmas have my sincere respect. My mother is an excellent keeper of Christmas. I'd like to be more like her. Suppose I could just choose to be?

6. When my own children were growing up, we spent Christmas Eve with their dad's family and Christmas day with mine. Their dad was the oldest of seven children so Christmas Eve was a free for all with tons of cousins, aunts, and uncles!

7. My family is the more sedate type. We open gifts in very civilized ways. Slowly. One at a time. It takes us hours. Days. Weeks. (Yes, we save all the darned paper, the ribbons, and the bows, too.)

8. In former times, I loved attending Christmas Eve candlelight services. They were held at midnight. Okay, so what if I sometimes nodded off?! It was often the one time that I had the opportunity to center myself. I still get teary eyed realizing all over again just what a sacrifice was made that holy night. Would you leave Heaven to be born in a stable? Me neither.

9. I hate shopping. I hate it all year around. I especially hate it at Christmas time. I've truly entertained the thought of a present-less Christmas. Wonder if I could talk my family into that????

10. Since Christmas is so labor intensive, I never take down the tree before Epiphany...that's January 6. Don't even tell me that there are those of you reading who take down the tree the day after Christmas! Often, my favorite "Christmas" moments are well after the 25th.

11. I never put all the Christmas things away; something of Christmas always remains out. One year, I left Baby Jesus on the breadbox to remind me that He is the Bread of Life.

12. Twelve? Nah, I've run out and besides, I am a rebel.

I tag a gal who didn't get tagged last time...BumbleVee ! I don't think that she has enough to do. ROFL! She's so going to get me!!

Often I say that I "stumbled" across something really neat. I think I do every day in this wonderful blogging community. This week I stumbled across THIS I DO and WINDOWS TO MY SOUL.

One just couldn't go wrong on a quiet Sunday afternoon to spend some time reading at either blog.

Have a marvelous Sunday, everybody!!







Saturday, December 15, 2007

What's Up With Christmas Candy?

Have you ever noticed that Christmas candy is, well, not quite on par with say...Halloween's?

My sister brought home a can of those peach blossoms. Even though they come in a can, they don't taste like peaches; they don't look like peaches; they aren't even the same color as peaches. They do have a funky peanut butter filling. She said, "I love peach blossoms. " I looked at her with my brow furrowed and declared, "I hate them!"

She said, "Well, they do match the dish beautifully."

"Hmmmmppphhhh," I said.

Funny thing about those peach blossoms. They've been disappearing at an alarming clip and no one has been home except little ole me. :?



Friday, December 14, 2007

A Christmas Cup of Tea

Oh my gosh, just a couple of more comments about yesterday's post. Believe me, I heard more than four comments...everything from "what a meanie" to "are you out of your mind?" Thank you to the four brave souls who dared to comment: much appreciated. This post spiked more hits at site meter than any for the past two weeks. Okay then...skating right on, shall we? LOL!

This little poem was sent to me last year by a friend. I really loved it and saved it to my essays and poems folder, which means that I can now share it with you. I love all the little stories about Christmas time, don't you?



A Christmas Cup of Tea
by Tom Hegg

The log was in the fireplace, all spiced and set to burn
At last, the yearly Christmas race was in the clubhouse turn.
The cards were in the mail, all the gifts beneath the tree
And 30 days reprieve till VISA could catch up with me.

Though smug satisfaction seemed the order of the day
Something still was nagging me and would not go away
A week before I got a letter from my old great Aunt
It read: Of course I'll understand completely if you can't,
but if you find you have some time, how wonderful it would be
if we could have a little chat and share a cup of Christmas tea.

She'd had a mild stroke that year which crippled her left side
Though house bound now my folks had said it hadn't hurt her pride
They said: She'd love to see you. What a nice thing it would be
For you to go and maybe have a cup of Christmas tea.

But boy! I didn't want to go. Oh, what a bitter pill
To see an old relation and how far she'd gone downhill
I remembered her as vigorous, as funny and as bright
I remembered Christmas Eves when she regaled us half the night.
I didn't want to risk all that. I didn't want the pain.
I didn't need to be depressed. I didn't need the strain.
And what about my brother? Why not him? She's his aunt, too!
I thought I had it justified, but then before I knew
The reasons not to go I so painstakingly had built
Were cracking wide and crumbling in an acid rain of guilt.

I put on boots and gloves and cap, shame stinging every pore
And armed with squeegee, sand and map, I went out my front door.
I drove in from the suburbs to the older part of town
The pastels of the newer homes gave way to gray and brown.

I had that disembodied feeling as the car pulled up
And stopped beside the wooden house that held the Christmas cup.
How I got up to her door I really couldn't tell...
I watched my hand rise up and press the button of the bell.

I waited, aided by my nervous rocking to and fro
And just as I was thinking I should turn around and go
I heard the rattle of the china in the hutch against the wall
The triple beat of two feet and a crutch came down the hall.

The clicking of the door latch and the sliding of the bolt
And a little swollen struggle popped it open with a jolt.
She stood there pale and tiny, looking fragile as an egg
I forced myself from staring at the brace that held her leg.

And though her thick bifocals seemed to crack and spread her eyes
Their milky and refracted depths lit up with young surprise.
Come in! Come in! She laughed the words. She took me by the hand
And all my fears dissolved away as if by her command.

We went inside and then before I knew how to react
Before my eyes and ears and nose was Christmas past, alive, intact!
The scent of candied oranges, of cinnamon and pine,
The antique wooden soldiers in their military line,
The porcelain Nativity I'd always loved so much,
The Dresden and the crystal I'd been told I mustn't touch.

My spirit fairly bolted like a child out of class
And danced among the ornaments of calico and glass.
Like magic I was six again, deep in a Christmas spell
Steeped in the million memories the boy inside knew well.

And here among old Christmas cards so lovingly displayed
A special place of honor for the ones we kids had made.
And there, beside her rocking chair, the center of it all
My great Aunt stood and said how nice it was that I had come to call.

I sat and rattled on about the weather and the flu
She listened very patiently then smiled and said, "What's new?"
Thoughts and words began to flow. I started making sense
I lost the phony breeziness I use when I get tense.

She was still passionately interested in everything I did.
She was positive. Encouraging. Like when I was a kid.
Simple generalities still sent her into fits
She demanded the specifics. The particulars. The bits.


We talked about the limitations that she'd had to face
She spoke with utter candor and with humor and good grace.
Then defying the reality of crutch and straightened knee
On wings of hospitality she flew to brew the tea.

I sat alone with feelings that I hadn't felt in years.
I looked around at Christmas through a thick hot blur of tears.
And the candles and the holly she'd arranged on every shelf
The impossibly good cookies she still somehow baked herself.

But these rich and tactile memories became quite pale and thin
When measured by the Christmas my great Aunt kept deep within.
Her body halved and nearly spent, but my great Aunt was whole
I saw a Christmas miracle, the triumph of a soul.

The triple beat of two feet and a crutch came down the hall
The rattle of the china in the hutch against the wall.
She poured two cups. She smiled and then she handed one to me
And then we settled back and had a cup of Christmas tea.



P.S. ...and totally unrelated... Every now and then I read about a blogger's frustration with her header. Today is my turn. No matter what I do, I cannot get my header straightened around. I find these kinds of upsets completely maddening. Yes, my name is Vee and I am a Type A personality.

Sooo, if anyone knows the answer to this dilemma, I'll be very grateful. Spending any time in the chaos and confusion of Blog "Help" is absolutely maddening. Guess that the Blogger folks realize that there is a problem and are working on it as stated right here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Santa Debate



Now I don't want to open a can of worms here. No. I really don't. I just loathe rocking the boat. (Mrs. G., stop chuckling!) But I found this letter written by Mark Twain to his little girl Susie away back forever ago and found it so utterly charming, whimsical, even magical that I wanted to share it here in its entirety:

Palace of St. Nicholas
In the Moon
Christmas Morning

MY DEAR SUSIE CLEMENS:

I have received and read all the letters which you and your little sister have written me by the hand of your mother and your nurses; I have also read those which you little people have written me with your own hands--for although you did not use any characters that are in grown peoples' alphabet, you used the characters that all children in all lands on earth and in the twinkling stars use; and as all my subjects in the moon are children and use no character but that, you will easily understand that I can read your and your baby sister's jagged and fantastic marks without any trouble at all. But I had trouble with those letters which you dictated through your mother and the nurses, for I am a foreigner and cannot read English writing well. You will find that I made no mistakes about the things which you and the baby ordered in your own letters--I went down your chimney at midnight when you were asleep and delivered them all myself--and kissed both of you, too, because you are good children, well trained, nice mannered, and about the most obedient little people I ever saw. But in the letter which you dictated there were some words which I could not make out for certain, and one or two small orders which I could not fill because we ran out of stock. Our last lot of kitchen furniture for dolls has just gone to a very poor little child in the North Star away up, in the cold country above the Big Dipper. Your mama can show you that star and you will say: "Little Snow Flake," (for that is the child's name) "I'm glad you got that furniture, for you need it more than I." That is, you must write that, with your own hand, and Snow Flake will write you an answer. If you only spoke it she wouldn't hear you. Make your letter light and thin, for the distance is great and the postage very heavy.

There was a word or two in your mama's letter which I couldn't be certain of. I took it to be "a trunk full of doll's clothes." Is that it? I will call at your kitchen door about nine o'clock this morning to inquire. But I must not see anybody and I must not speak to anybody but you. When the kitchen doorbell rings, George must be blindfolded and sent to open the door. Then he must go back to the dining room or the china closet and take the cook with him. You must tell George he must walk on tiptoe and not speak--otherwise he will die someday. Then you must go up to the nursery and stand on a chair or the nurse's bed and put your car to the speaking tube that leads down to the kitchen and when I whistle through it you must speak in the tube and say, "Welcome, Santa Claus!" Then I will ask whether it was a trunk you ordered or not. If you say it was, I shall ask you what color you want the trunk to be. Your mama will help you to name a nice color and then you must tell me every single thing in detail which you want the trunk to contain. Then when I say "Good-by and a merry Christmas to my little Susie Clemens," you must say "Good-by, good old Santa Claus, I thank you very much and please tell that little Snow Flake I will look at her star tonight and she must look down here--I will be right in the west bay window; and every fine night I will look at her star and say, 'I know somebody up there and like her, too.' " Then you must go down into the library and make George close all the doors that open into the main hall, and everybody must keep still for a little while. I will go to the moon and get those things and in a few minutes I will come down the chimney that belongs to the fireplace that is in the hall--if it is a trunk you want--because I couldn't get such a thing as a trunk down the nursery chimney, you know.

People may talk if they want, until they hear my footsteps in the hall. Then you tell them to keep quiet a little while till I go back up the chimney. Maybe you will not hear my footsteps at all--so you may go now and then and peep through the dining-room doors, and by and by you will see that thing which you want, right under the piano in the drawing room-for I shall put it there. If I should leave any snow in the hall, you must tell George to sweep it into the fireplace, for I haven't time to do such things. George must not use a broom, but a rag--else he will die someday. You must watch George and not let him run into danger. If my boot should leave a stain on the marble, George must not holystone it away. Leave it there always in memory of my visit; and whenever you look at it or show it to anybody you must let it remind you to be a good little girl. Whenever you are naughty and somebody points to that mark which your good old Santa Claus's boot made on the marble, what will you say, little sweetheart?

Good-by for a few minutes, till I come down to the world and ring the kitchen doorbell.

Your loving SANTA CLAUS
Whom people sometimes call "The Man in the Moon"


Source

My own children, now long grown, began their childhoods by believing in and loving the "Santa" part of Christmas. On the day that my son climbed into my lap and earnestly told me that he loved Jesus all year long, but at Christmastime he loved Santa best, I felt that we had a problem. A big problem. I believe that he was nearly five that year and his sister was 7.

So I purchased the most beautiful picture book of the story of Christmas...not that the true story of Christmas had not been already shared, but because I was about to do Santa in and I thought the exquisite picture book would help in the task. Their father was very supportive of this idea and one evening a few weeks before Christmas we all climbed into the sofa bed before the Christmas tree and I presented the story. Then, as gently as possible, we told them that Santa was a real person who loved the Lord and that he now lived in heaven with God.

Ohhhhhhh, the wailing! Ohhhhhhh, the weeping! Ohhhhhhhhh, the intense sorrow and sobbing. My husband and I stared at one another over the tops of the children's shaking shoulders and grimaced at one another. Dear Lord, what had we done???? So our poor kids went through the holidays grieving St. Nicholas's death more than 1700 years before. Sad. When I botch something, I really do it completely! This very story was just repeated to me a few weeks ago by my daughter and son. They can laugh about it now, but at the time, it was very traumatic for them.

In hindsight, I wish that I had never allowed them to believe in Santa. Why? Because the Christ of Christmas should not have to compete with the fat man in the flying sleigh who gifts children with all the desires of their expanding greed. There's more wonder in the true story of Christmas than ever needs to be supplemented with the fairy tale. I am not sure how Christian parents balance the two. What's been your experience?

Picture Source (link broken, but picture allowed to stand)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wrapping Central

So where are you guys wrapping gifts this year? I used to set up a card table in a bedroom corner, but this year my back is balking at that kind of bending so it's back to the dining room table for me. (Yikes! Alliteration run amok!)

We had a good wrapping session last night, my sis and I. She knows all about atmosphere and had purchased the nutmeg candle just for that purpose. We sipped on our hazelnut coffee, chatted, and she wrapped while I watched :) and opened Christmas cards.

Ohhh, do you see that one? It's from Kari. She loves to send cards. She thinks it is important. She loves to make her own, too. This one is so pretty. There's so much detail. I love it! I've already told her that I may have to reform and start sending more cards again. I also loved finding mine in the stash she photographed. Now I can say, "there it is!"

Okay, now I'm wondering if I have time, before work, to bake cookies. I was supposed to take some for a cookie share day and I just ran out of energy last night. Let's just see...is the call of cookies louder than the beckon of blogs? Hahahahahaha...sometimes I just crack myself up. Later!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmasing With You

Greeting cards have all been sent
The Christmas rush is through
But I still have one wish to make
A special one for you

Merry Christmas darling
We’re apart that’s true
But I can dream
And in my dreams
I’m Christmasing with you


~Frank Pooler & Richard Carpenter


Finally found my Christmas cds over the weekend. A couple of years ago, my nieces, deciding that I was, after all, a definite 70s gal, gave me one of the Carpenters' Christmas cds. Last night, I drifted off to the sweet, mellow tones of Karen singing "Merry Christmas Darling." Must be true because that's what I woke up singing this morning. ;>

I miss Karen. I miss John Denver. I miss Mama Cass. I miss Bobby Goldsboro. I miss my darling. I have been missing a lot of family and friends who are no longer with me. This missing is a painful fact of life. Second only to seeing the Lord is the joy of knowing that I will see my loved ones again. Still, sometimes Christmas feels lonely...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Creating a Header All By Your Very Own Sweet Self

or how to change something like this

< photo removed >



to something like this...


A blogging bud asked me for some advice about creating a header. Since it was going to require thinking and stuff, I decided to write it down as a tutorial and then anyone can see what I do. Disclaimer: This is how I do it, which doesn't make it the best or easiest way.

1. Take a picture.

2. Upload to the computer.

3. Save it in Pictures or wherever you save your photos.

4. Open PAINT. (I am using a Windows XP and I find PAINT by clicking the START button, clicking ALL PROGRAMS, then clicking ACCESSORIES, finally clicking PAINT.)

5. Once in PAINT, you should see a big white page with color choices on the bottom, tools on the side, and these words across the top: File Edit View Image Colors Help
(These words are where the action is for creating a header.)

6. Click on FILE and then on OPEN in the drop-down menu...this takes you to a box where you can select the spot where your photos are stored by using the arrow at the right.

7. Find the photo you wish to use and double click. Your photo will open in PAINT and be gigantic! Do not panic.

8. Click on the IMAGE button at the top of the page and select STRETCH/SKEW from the drop-down menu. A new box will open...you'll only be working in the top half or the
stretch section. You will see two small white boxes with these words: Horizontal and Vertical. Each box will have 100% written in it. I use 30% in both so change both the horizontal and vertical boxes to 30%. (Whatever you do in one, you must do in the other or the photo will be distorted...perhaps you'd like to experiment with distortion, but my world is wonky enough.)

9. Click the OKAY button on the right and the photo will now be completely visible to you.

10. Return to the FILE button and select "Save As" at this point.

11. Choose a new name to write in the "File Name" box that opens just to be safe...you don't want to lose all your good work so far.

12. Leave the photo in JPEG format in the "Save As Type" box. Hit okay on the right side. This saves your photo and you'll be able to find it again back in Pictures if anything should happen during the next steps.

13. Your photo will be square...this is where cropping comes in...either that or you'll be resizing once again by returning to step 8.

14. Crop by finding the teeny-tiny-wee blue button in the middle of the right side of the photo or the middle of the bottom of the photo. Click on the blue button and drag inward or upward to your spot. Now you may find that you have extra photo at the top or on the other side. Do not panic. You'll have to flip the photo. I said, "Don't panic!" :)

15. Flip the photo by going to the IMAGE button and selecting the Flip/ Rotate button that opens in the drop-down menu.

16. Select "Rotate by Angle" and experiment... I usually just work with the 90 degree angle until I can use the teeny-tiny-wee blue button that only ever appears on the right and on the bottom (have I already said that?) Actually, there is a teeny-tiny-wee blue button in the corner as well...it can be useful...experiment!

17. Once cropping is complete, straighten the picture by using step 15.

18. Return to the FILE button use SAVE AS and rename the photo in the filename to something that includes "header."

19. Back at the blog, you'll upload the photo in the usual way for the header. I just use my font and font colors to create my header from there.

20. Wasn't that fun???? (Good luck, Judy!!!)

Now, if anyone knows of an easier way using PAINT, I'd love to hear about it. Thanks!!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Warmth and Cheer

...whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~Philipians 4:9



Scenes like this one warm me to the bone and, after posting the new header, I decided that my haven needed a little warmth and cheer itself.

We all need warmth and cheer and how is it to be achieved? Should we wait for others to toss us a bone? Should we shop until we drop? Sip our brandy alone? I don't think so! We begin by creating for ourselves what we most need. And, if we take care of ourselves, we can take care of others. Instead of focusing on whatever is going awry (there'll always be plenty of that), we can focus on all that is good and right. I stole one of FlyLady's expressions some months ago and it is proving to be helpful...I may not be able to do THAT, but I can do THIS.

Enjoy your Sunday by creating a marvelous one! God bless...

Picture Source




Friday, December 7, 2007

Friday's Thoughts

Everywhere a blogger looks these days in the blogging world, there are such delights for the eye and the imagination. If you haven't visited The Inspired Room lately, try eking out a chunk of time and just enjoy.

Pam Garrison is a busy gal this year with a recent move and a business, but for beautiful images one can't go wrong to visit Christmas 2006 in her blog.

Thank you all for being so supportive...even though I never got the cup of tea that Linda suggested, I skated through the day quite cheerfully just anticipating my imaginary cup. And, I'd like to especially thank Barbara who sent me the sweetest letter. What a community of support I stumbled into back in July. I am truly blessed.

Have a blessed Friday, everyone!

(Clicking on the paragraph about Pam Garrison will take you right there!)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

In the Mood



Let's see, it's December 6 (the official beginning of the Christmas season) and I am already weary of it all. I am blaming it on the fact that I deal with the general public day in and day out and the general public can often be, in a word, rude. That's right—rude. I work on phones all day long and come home with a headache daily because one too many persons decided to slam the phone in my ear or scream and yell at me or worse...I really don't like being called an "idiot." The challenge is to remain sweet and cheerful for I can catch a foul mood just as quickly as the next person. The strain of being sweet and cheerful (so far I have managed...;>) is taking its toll. "Just three more weeks of this," I say to myself every night as I drag myself over the snowbanks to the lot at the furtherest end of the building.

In the meantime, I must reclaim my Christmas joy. It is not about the decorations, gifts (ackkkk), and food of the season, it is about the fellowship and love around the One who was willing to show up on this planet in the first place.

When I taught first graders, I would tell the story of Christmas in ways that they could better understand. "And she wrapped Him in *burial cloths and laid Him in a cow's dish." (*Jesus was the only baby ever born who was meant to die.)

Over the past few nights, I have been reading Max Lucado's "Traveling Light." At one point, Lucado asks his readers to ponder just this line: The Lord is my Shepherd. When I do that in the way that I told the Christmas story to first graders, it simply astounds me. Try it and see!

In the meantime, wishing you and yours the most meaningful Christmas season ever!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tagged!



I've been tagged by Miss Sandy at Quill Cottage . Miss Sandy is a sweet and gentle soul who can take her readers away with a few words, a few photos, and that lilting music that she has playing. Hmmmmm, heavenly! (Annnnndddd, you should read how cleverly she approached this five new things tag.)

The rules are simple enough. When tagged, a blogger should link to the person by whom tagged and mention five things about yourself. (Mercifully, no one mentioned anything about being interesting things.) Further, one must tag five new people telling a little bit about each of them and providing a link to their blogs. Finally, one must visit each blogger and leave a message that she's been tagged. Or something close to that. ;>

Five things, eh? Five things I haven't mentioned before in blogging? Oh dear. Sigh. Hmmm. I stew over stuff like this. Let's see...*fidget* Oooookayyy, teaching school was my career from 1979-2003. I have taught every age from pre-school through college level with the exception of kindergarten. My favorite ages to teach are first-graders and adults. Teaching first graders is a delight because one gets to watch the light go on for reading. Incredible! And teaching adults is a rush because they care about learning...very much, and it is always a joy to teach a student who cares. Phew! I made it!

I tag the following:

Terri @ Wind Lost ...she owes me! LOL! Terri has an incredible heart and her spirit comes through in every post. One should go back to the beginning of her blog and read every single thing. You'll be glad that you did. She also has a wicked good sense of style.

Vickie @ Sand Flat Farm because she's new to blogging and this will help her to get her feet good and wet. :> She's doing an amazing job and has an adorable, wee, yellow house that is incredibly charming. Check it out!

Judy @ My Front Porch has posted about so many traveling adventures with gorgeous photos, she has such good recipes, and wonderful, creative ideas to share. You'd be missing out if you don't visit her! I do every day.

HappyOne @ who says that she's just an average person, but don't believe it. She has three blogs and keeps them all going without a hitch. You'll find some amazing letters shared so don't forget your tissue box.

Kari at Just Livin' Large because if I really tick her off (and this just might do it), she'll write some funny stuff and then we'll all have some laughs.

And that, dear ones, will be the best that I can do for you!

P.S. If anyone wants to be tagged...I'll be happy to tag ya if you'll run a little slower! No rules means no rules, right?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Bell Tone


My goal was not to post today. BumbleVee said that I was loquacious a blabbermouth and it hurt my last feeling. Sigh. LOL!!

But something happened last night that I wanted to write about. A friend presented me with this little silver bell found at a local flea market last July. It says Merry and Happy on one side and Christmas and New Year on the other. And, as dear as it is, that's not the best part. The best part is its tone...pure, sweet, and delightfully clear.

So I said to him, "You must have watched The Polar Express last night." His puzzled look assured me that he had no clue what I was talking about. As I explained the premise of the story...that the little boy asks for and receives the first gift of Christmas—a sleigh bell from Santa's sleigh, that the bell has a quality unlike any other and that as one grows older it is difficult to hear the bell, but the little boy, now grown old, can still hear it...well, you should've seen my friend's face then. He asked me what I thought about it all and I said that, as a believer, I always take these things as allegories of the true meaning of Christmas. For me this story is about faith, not in Santa, but in the Lord.

My own faith has been wavering too much lately, but the gift of this little bell reminds me again that there is no happenstance in this world.

So it was just too good not to share and I agree with BumbleVee...I am certainly a blabbermouth!

P.S. Don't forget to leave a comment on yesterday's post!! (Don't forget to visit BumbleVee either!)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

One Hundred!

Today is the day that I am celebrating my 100th post. And to honor the day, I am shamelessly requesting comments in order that my pretty pink depression glass jar may be filled with your names. Someone other than myself will draw the winning name.



I have been pondering what to gift as I sit here sipping my coffee this morning. Originally, I hoped to give a Country Living subscription because that is my very favorite decorating magazine...then I thought that many of you may already receive it. Soooo, for those of you who might, I will substitute a Christmas Joy Keepsake book from Susan Branch. If anyone has both, we'll worry about it later! :)
My twin Vee celebrated her 100th post yesterday and she is giving away one of the most adorable of her creations. Check it out right *here* !
Edited to Add: You only have the weekend to be considered. I'll be announcing the winner Monday morning bright and early. Thanks!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Hope in the Mail



Yes, sometimes hope arrives in the mail. ;>

When I saw this creation of Margo's (see Robolady on the sidebar), I knew that I had to have it. It is intended as a Christmas gift for my niece, but I'm liking it terribly well. LOL!

The photos don't do it justice, but I'm sharing anyway. If you have the opportunity to visit Etsy shops or the gals who work so hard on crafts and treasures, you may find that your Christmas shopping is easier than you could imagine!

I love it on the Christmas tree! Perhaps I'll just tag it and leave it right there!


Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Don't Want to be a Humbug

But in this season it is well to reassert that the hope of mankind rests in faith. As a woman thinketh so she is. Nothing much happens unless you believe in it, and believing there is hope for the world is a way to move toward it. ~ Gladys Taber

So I found one of my favorite little Christmas books yesterday... Christmas Joy by Susan Branch. The quote above is from the opening pages and the following snippets are from page 43.

For some, Christmas is a time of high anxiety. It has always been my opinion that people, including myself, create an unnecessary stressful atmosphere by their own lack of planning. Susan has this to say about what happens to those who wait until the last minute to pull things together: they...hurry instead of bustle, they buy the first thing that they see, they spend too much money, and it's no wonder that so many are not sleeping and not celebrating. Her remedy is to shop all year long. (Mine is to stop by at FlyLady's.)

Forcing myself to sit down with a notebook and pen, I finally created a plan. It's late for said plan, but most of it will include online shopping. I already feel the anxiety level dropping a notch. How about you? How're the planning and shopping coming along at your house?

This year, I'd like to do more meaningful things and try some new things...no time for that if I am still wrapping gifts at midnight on Christmas eve, which has happened more than once. To avoid all that, I am getting all planning done before December 1 the FlyLady way.


One of the new things that I'd like to try is sugaring fruit for a fruit bowl. Susan says that one just stirs up an egg white, rolls the fruit in it, then rolls the fruit in white sugar. It looks just heavenly, don't you think?

Hmmmmm...wonder if there'd be any trouble with critters.




Picture Source

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mexico Meets Narnia Tree

And so it was that little sister decided to leave a day early. Not a problem. She left me a note on the table and off she went with nary a word. Fine. Really Fine. It gave me an entire extra day to get started on Christmas decorating. I can read the writing on the wall and it said, "Ha ha, you're it!"

Good thing that I have been paying some attention to all the decorating blogs such as Linda's at Restyled Home and Melissa's at The Inspired Room and Terri's at Windlost (though I know that Windlost is not entirely about decorating.) What I have learned there, I have been able to apply, which is a diggedy dog good thing as I have precious little natural talent.

So without further ado, I'll share what I was doing yesterday. Please forgive the quality of the pictures...Santa Baby already knows what I want for Christmas. ;>



Here's how things looked in the morning. Yes, I moved the sofa down through that same narrow hallway, but I had help this time! The tree is in the high corner of the room so I hoped that the idea that Linda had shared of a tree on an antique trunk would look good so let's see...




I'm happy with the look. Now what is that "stuff" all over it? That is my "buying time" look where instead of getting out all the ornaments right now, I toss on all the silk poinsettias that I can round up and call it good. I have never been able to pass on actually getting out the ornaments at some point, but this may be the year. (Well, shoot! I'll take a daytime photo...hang on.)



There! That's a titch better. You can see the riot of poinsettias and the crocheted angel tree topper that my mother made me. The crystal icicles are quite difficult to see. I think that I need another string of lights...white, thank you. And the garland in the center may not be quite enough. Gee whizkers, it's amazing what the cruel, hard light of day has done to my beautiful tree. However, the trunk idea did save me a small fortune since I was able to use my regular tree without having to purchase a new taller one. (Thanks, Linda!)


Yesterday, I also went tipping...evergreen tipping that is. My carpenter allowed me to use his property and he even went along and dragged out the bags for me. Nooooo, I am not being charged. :) Anyway, just to prove that I was a very busy gal...here is the window box awaiting winterberries. I'm hoping that I'll find some red today!




When I got home after tipping (Yes, I did wear blaze orange and I looked simply fetching...trust me), the quality of the light was so delicious that I had to run for the camera, even if it isn't the best camera, and grab this photo before the light faded. Leaving you with this and a wish for a golden day for us all!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Single Serving Quick Bread Pudding

On cold mornings, nothing satisfies quite as well as a hot breakfast. When I feel the urge to splurge on scones or something off my plan, I make this banana bread pudding recipe. It is so yummy and nutritious that I am rescued from sinning on my diet. Perfect! Oh, it can be doubled, just adjust the cooking time up to 10 or 12 minutes. Easy!


Beth's Breakfast Banana Bread Pudding for One

Ingredients:

* 1 egg
* 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
* 1 slice bread whole wheat
* 1/2 to 1 whole ripe banana, diced
* 1/4 cup milk
* 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
* 1/2 tsp. vanilla
* 1/2 cup granola, if desired

Method:

Combine everything together (except the granola) in a cereal bowl. Microwave approximately 7 minutes or until set. During the last minute of cooking, sprinkle on the granola. Serve with warm cream or milk. This is especially good with fresh berries or even dried berries (a few tossed in before cooking).

I am cheating again with the picture...this one has apples, which I think I'll have to resort to myself since the bananas are all gone...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hmmmmm, Which One to Choose...


I've been thinking about Christmas traditions of late and which memories are the most vivid and why. Oddly enough, one of my favorite memories is of my grandfather's response to the beautifully wrapped gifts beneath the tree..."Just look at that. They're much too beautiful to open!"

A favorite, but brief tradition from childhood, was the gingerbread house. It began sweetly enough one year and ended all too soon. I suppose that it ended because it was a big pain for my poor mother to pull off every year. As I recall, she tried again to revive it with my children...also brief. Still, I remember it so fondly that I want to re-create it for my grandsons. Now they are still a little young yet to appreciate such things, but I think it would be nice to start early.

Being a smart gal ;>, I'm thinking a kit is the way to go. The one above or the one below are the two that I'm considering.








First Gingerbread Source

Second Gingerbread Source

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Acceptance: My Answer?

I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, and the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God who has worked wonders for you... Joel 2:25 and 26a



So this is where I'm hanging out today over there on that chaise with my laptop. Wait. I don't have a laptop; I'm just pretending. ;) Trying to keep my lid on has become a fulltime pastime of late, which leads me to the rest of my story today.

A week ago, my friend brought me a sheet of paper with too many words on it. Definitely too many to read at the time as I was b-u-s-y. It was a decorative item that his sister had framed and placed on her wall. He asked her to please make a copy and that is how I now have it. I was so busy flying around last Sunday that I barely took the time to acknowledge the gift. (I know. I told you that I'd be relaxing in that big stuffed chair, but you know all about the land of make-believe. ETA: And that was two weeks ago...the golden library pic...where does the time go????) Since I was much too busy to bother reading it, I popped it into the recipe notebook I was using for Thanksgiving notes and recipes. See? There it is on the right.



You may vaguely remember that I had offered to host Thanksgiving. I offered to host Thanksgiving for everyone except my sister's beloved. I really didn't want him here. I don't like him much. It's not even that I don't like him; it's that I don't like what he represents to me...loss and a lot of change. Anyway, I was going through the week happy that he would not be attending. Then my sister said that if he was not welcome then she was not welcome and that they'd be going to McDonald's. Oh the drama of it all!

A few short minutes later, there I was face to face with the gift in my recipe notebook. It says:

Acceptance is the answer to all my problems.

When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation—some fact of life—unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's World by mistake.

When I focus on what's good today, I have a good day, and when I focus on what's bad, I have a bad day. If I focus on a problem, the problem increases; if I focus on the answer, the answer increases. (The source for this material is, apparently, Alcoholics Anonymous.)

It was enough to get us all safely through Thanksgiving. I am not sure that it is enough to get us all safely through Christmas. I am still working on my one day at a time philosophy.

Now on to happier things... I had soooo much fun reading blogs yesterday. It resulted in my adding several more to my growing list in the sidebar. One was Little Red House where Mary hosts lovely tours of her charming home and writes about all manner of fun things. Check out her tribute to the movie "The Birds."

Then I visited Posie Gets Cozy where one can see the most lovely photos. This is the one that I want to share, but don't look until you finish reading here or you'll pop over there and you won't be back in a hurry. LOL! When you arrive there, you'll see a clump of Christmas lights. Just a clump. Anyway, that was the spark to begin my Christmas decorating. See?



Do you think that I can get away with my clump, too? I kinda like it. This could be the easiest decorating I've ever done!

Lastly, Vee (BumbleVee) at The Bearister Bookcase posted an incredibly compelling story about a late night visitor. You'll find it fascinating and food for thought.

Have a wonderful Sunday and a blessed week!

ETA: I'm confusing Melissa by not naming my picture source...oops! It's Pella.com