Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Gathering a Year~2014

Twenty-fourteen will probably go down as *The Year of the Luge. The sledding is what sticks out in my mind anyway. The year might also stick in memory as the one of Never~Ending Winter, but that is not such a pleasant think. Some of these photos I have shown before; some I just planned to show you and never did. One should never confuse my "random" with "organization." 
 The following posts are not necessarily my favorites, though they provide a good overview. You are in no way expected to wade through them. This is meant for my benefit because this here blog is getting too big to handle. A review of the year is a good way to break things down to bite-sized bits. Do you do a year in review? I want to see it!

January — Epiphany 
February — Valentine's Day
March — Yakkety-Yak
April — Gathering the Moments~April
May — A Little Schoolbus Story
June — Idyllic Afternoon
July — Portraits
August — At the Lake
September — Hello
October — Zip — No posts in October
November — My Pilgrim Story
December — Merry Christmas
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*(I understand that many of you think it goes down as the Year of the Potato. Right. Whatever would give one that idea?)


Linking to *Cheryl's Gathering the Moments at Thinking About Home.* What a great idea she had to invite us to join her. She gathers her moments at the end of every month and continues to invite us to do the same, though this is the final opportunity to link. Like many of us, she is simplifying. ☺

Monday, December 29, 2014

Special Ornaments

Those of you who can't get the tree to the curb fast enough after Christmas will probably wish to avoid this blog until somewhere in mid-January, perhaps beyond. I have decided that I am not yet done with the trappings of Christmas and so am in no hurry to dispatch the tree, the dishes, the linens, the ornaments...
speaking of ornaments — I want to document some special ones this year. 

My grandson Sam gave me two made by his very own hands and wrapped in tissue paper with lots of tape and a little ribbon. He was pleased with his gift; I am pleased with his gift. Let me show you how cute!

~Rudolph Candy Cane Antlers from Sam~

~Beaded Candy Cane from Sam~

~Gorgeous Red Cardinal from Keanne~

My niece was home from New York City and the family was able to gather the day after Christmas for supper and no gifts. So much for that part because somehow this red cardinal was given and I love him! He is very elegant.

~Cinnamon Teddy Bear from Mom~

A few days before Christmas as I was busily scraping together some last-minute gifts, I was desperate for some festive-looking fabric. I couldn't hope for Christmas fabric, but something red or green or Christmasy. I opened a box in my sewing room tucked high on a shelf and found a Christmas gift that I had forgotten all about. It was filled to the brim with Christmas fabrics, leftovers from my mother's sewing room, and a number of sweet cinnamon teddy bears. I almost sat down on the floor and cried and then thought why not laugh with the joy of it instead? So I did. And every time I see them, I smile all over again.

Supper preps...


We had a very pleasant Christmas with two of John's daughters planning to visit. One was unable to come after breaking her leg; the other was able to visit with us Christmas Eve.

We spent Christmas afternoon with my son and his family and had a very nice time watching the boys open gifts and play with them. We played a game John and I got for the family called "Say Anything." We were asked the question: What is the worst pet that one could bring home? What might you say? I said, "an alligator." My son said, "A beagle." And that with the family beagle snoring on the sofa right beside me! We got a good laugh out of that and then Jake (the youngest grandson) came and kneeled over his dear pet and whispered, "Don't you listen to Daddy. You are a very good dog."

I have a "Gathering the Year" post for the 31st. I know that they are not everyone's cup of tea, but I am growing olden and wish to keep an easy record. On New Year's Day, I am wishing you a Happy and Prosperous 2015 and taking another little break of a week or so. (I don't wish to offend with my ongoing Christmas celebrations.☺)

Later...


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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Merry Christmas!
Susan Branch's advice has proven to be invaluable around here this Christmas. Thought I would document it lest my calendar page ever get lost. 


The Scripture is perfect: Be truly glad, there is wonderful joy ahead!
l Peter 1:6


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Scoot! Enjoy the celebrations!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Merry On!

This is where I get off the bus. Time is of the essence. As is often the case, plans are a bit scrambled, frazzled, unraveling complicated (that's the word I'm looking for) by last-minute rearrangements, etc. True at your house, too? Really, a show of hands for anyone who has had some last-minute changes in plans. It will make me feel better. 

 


My fond hope is that it will all work out. I don't want to meddle too much, just a little. John says, "Just allow it to play out." Men! 
That's way too laid back for me! 




Until we meet on the other side of December 25th, may your Christmas be filled with all the joys that make Jesus more real to you. This is about a celebration not of gifts, decorations or even family. It's a celebration for Him. I am trying to remember this.


Merry On!


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Thursday, December 18, 2014

If You Have Time to Visit...

Remember the good old days of blogging, before Pinterest, when we would feature our blogging friends and what was going on in their world? Somehow I have gotten away from that, but today I will feature three four bloggers because you do not have enough to do these days. < insert wry, very wry, grin >

***
(Because I have learned, reading Pinterest features, that one never should provide links until the end, I'm trying that today.) 
***

First up, on Baking Day, a package arrived containing such treasures. I tell you, it was like Christmas morning.


Lovely vintage fabrics, vintage postcards, ornaments, a coaster, Before Amen by Max Lucado, and other items that must remain secret.


I'll take any opportunity to share the wee tree. My chickadee is wearing a knitted cap formerly used as an ornament. It fits him so well. All three of the new ornaments are on the tree, but they are well disguised. One is too well disguised.

***
Love these crocheted hearts with their buttons and long ties. I might be tempted to wear one as a necklace some day!
I've not made many gifts this year. Have you?



Since December arrived, we have not had much in the way of weather except rain, rain, and more rain. Sometimes it's freezing rain. However, back in November on Thanksgiving Eve we had a doozy of a snowstorm and have I ever got a story for you written by a dear blogger. Here I live in Maine and have for most of my life, but this blogging buddy comes to Maine for Thanksgiving and has a great adventure. I'm thinking a Christmas movie adventure!




I may have been watching a few Christmas movies because the next story definitely qualifies as Christmas movie material, from the Yukon no less. It warmed my heart and, dare I confess, made me cry. I love stories like this! I know that you will, too.

***

Now in case you're wondering what the last photo has to do with anything...




Back in the olden days of blogging, we used to get our decorating inspiration from blogs. Yesterday, I visited a home tour and found this decorating inspiration, only her poinsettia was in a crock and mine's in a tin. Either way, the black plastic pot is camouflaged. (I like the beautiful foil that they come in, but understand that it is not good for the plant.)


***

So, without further ado, I present
1. Barbara's Adventure in Maine
2. Kim's Special Visitor
3. Cheryl's Beautiful Home Christmas Tour
and I say thank you, Dear Abby (not that Dear Abby), for the beautiful gifts!


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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cookie Baking Day

Sis and I had a cookie baking date. Yesterday was it! She arrived before ten with a vehicle filled to the rafters with baking supplies and I had tables filled to the rafters inside with baking supplies. It was quite the day. 

As is often the case with us, we didn't go for the tried and true. We both chose new-to-us recipes. Three to be exact. Fussy recipes that involved delicate dough and rolling out. One was the filled date cookie you see in its beginning stages below. It got a topper with a heart shape cut out. Then the edges were crimped. I have to tell you because I didn't take one photo of the finished product. They turned out quite cute and very tasty.


 ~Date Filled Cookies~

~Peanut Butter Cup Temptations~

These were not fussy. They were yummy. The recipe is right on the bag of peanut butter cups. 



~Kiffles~

This recipe is all over Pinterest. It's delicious, but I won't bother to make them again.

~Dora's Sugar Cookies~

This is a cookie that I've been baking since I was in third grade and ran home to tell my mother that Cathy's mother had made the most delicious cookie I had ever eaten. My mother called Cathy's mother who was gracious enough to share. I'm sharing, too.


Dora's Christmas Cookies

Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 cups brown sugar packed
1 cup melted butter
3½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Method:
Mix all ingredients together. Chill for thirty minutes or so. Roll thinly between two sheets of wax paper—no thicker than pie crust. Cut into shapes. Bake at 350° for ten minutes.
Frost with favorite icing as desired.

Edited to Add: Dora's Cookies taste better the following day.



We worked from morning until night. Dishes were done again and again. Still the kitchen looked as if a bomb had gone off.

~One little bright corner~

~Heading Out~

Sis was going straight to the hospital to drop off the goodies. She's dieting these days, yet she wanted to do her part for the cookie swap today on her floor. She just isn't participating in the swapping part. ☺

~J—O—Y~
We counted it all joy...or mostly all joy. Must say that I slept well last night and I'm hoping to hear that Sis did as well.
Hope that all is going smoothly in your corner.
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Friday, December 12, 2014

December Photo Challenge

This month's photo challenge is Christmas Scenes. I actually read all the articles that our hostess graciously provided and determined that I would try to copy one of the photos that I very much enjoyed. Wait. I'll go see if I can find it...

Ahhh, yes, here it is in in *this article* photo #2. I'll let you decide how close I came. ☺

So I started a few days ago when the weather was most uncooperative. The light just wasn't right during the day and nightime hours provided me with that light I love—all orange-y and warm—however, most people shudder to see it. 

I can show you...


This morning we woke to tracings of snow on branches and pale blue sky with some weak sun. I took my chance to re-photograph my subjects, which were two antique ornaments from my collection. (I don't actually have them on display this year and they will be returning to their storage soon.)


Here they are rather lost in the muddle middle. An antique Santa who looks more like an angry gnome and three acorns surrounded by oak leaves. It pleases me to think that these once hung on my great-grandparents' tree at the turn of the 20th Century.

What'sa matter, Santa? Have I been naughty again?


All photos were taken on automatic with a Coolpix P7100. I cropped, used frames (transparent and gradient 6 on Photoscape), auto corrected (low), auto contrasted (low),  and sharpened on level 5. I added the default back lighting and put that warm glow I love on with the lowest setting of "bloom." This is not a good idea for everyone because it does take the clarity back down again. Then I zipped over to PicMonkey and wrote this thank you for a lady who has done so much to teach me what little I know about photography. Though I don't shoot in RAW, I shoot in auto, which she once told me that her Beloved did a lot.

Thank you is not enough, but it's a start.  

As most of you know, Donna will not be with us for this challenge because she is caring for her Beloved. It is a credit to her that we have been allowed to carry on without her today. Donna has said that this is her last photo challenge. I understand that and hope to honor her commitment with this little post.

Thank you for looking. I am closing comments today.


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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Early Gifts of Christmas

This beautiful Christmas card arrived yesterday. My first to arrive in the mail. It  is so pretty and matches "the decor" around here. 




It arrived along with this sweet Johnson Brothers "Merry Christmas" mug. Apparently, dear Kim of Happy at Home was reading before Thanksgiving and saw the Friendly Village plates and thought of me when she saw this mug. As you can tell, it is a perfect complement for the Friendly Village tea cups in back. Kim, I just love it and, as soon as John figures out that I have switched mugs, I'll be having my morning coffee from it every day! Kim had a fun little tango with a vacuum cleaner yesterday and managed to take a photo all at the same time. Check it out!


The print was one that my daughter gave me several years ago that I had not figured out quite what to do with.  I love it here and it does remind me of my own two kiddos years ago and of my grandsons playing outside in the snow.


It looks even better with Kim's card.


We are not displaying outside lights this year...anything to economize...yet, I wish that we were because they are so cheering. I must write my neighbor a note thanking her for the light display at her home. 


This is a terrible shot of the moon the night before it was full, but the sky is the story. It just looked so pretty to me...sort of like one giant star—a light display of another sort.


Still decorating or redecorating. Thought that John's nightside table needed a little Christmas cheer. That little great he is holding in the photo there is already five years old!


Would you believe the the tree in a trunk had to be taken all apart so that I could remove the bad lights. It was driving me nuts. A wire cutter and an hour and a half later and I had managed to deliver it of its prelit status. It now is very sensibly dressed in new strings of lights.

Any mishaps at your place? Stay safe and keep singing...


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Sunday, December 7, 2014

That's Why He Came


I cannot believe that the inscrutable universe turns on an axis of suffering; surely the strange beauty of the world must somewhere rest on pure joy!
~Louise Bogan

That December was the year that my friend Bea describes as life-changing. A life-changing event was playing itself out in her young employee's life... let's call her Veronica. Veronica's mother was in the final stages of brain cancer and the pall over the office was heavy. Bea lamented to another of her office staff that Christmas should be a time of pure joy and that nothing should ever go wrong at Christmastime. Bea was soon to learn that most important lesson when the young woman turned to her and said, "Oh. I thought this was why He came."

***

This week has been one of such moments. My daughter's dear friend has been forever changed by a tragic and unnecessary loss. John has lost one of his dearest friends to cancer. Both funerals were this week, just two days apart. We passed by the widow's home on Wednesday and saw Christmas lights on and the tree glowing in the window and I thought to myself what remarkable courage and faith.


Source (provided for tablets)

Many of you have been similarly touched or are going through deep waters this December. Please know that John and I are praying for your comfort and peace. We do so knowing that Jesus is the answer to every need.

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Reminder: Sunday comments are always closed.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Shopping Day

The grands came over yesterday and truly didn't recognize the Christmas tree as anything more than a display. When I asked them if they liked the tree, they looked at it quizzically and then responded in the affirmative...sort of. One did ask why I liked little trees so well. I suspect he'll discover why in fifty or sixty years. 


That's fog and freezing rain beyond the windows...Christmas lights are so cheering on such days.

Earlier in the week, my daughter and I went Christmas shopping in Freeport and Augusta. It was another freezing rain and fog day, but she was up for driving saying that no one would be crazy enough to be out. She was very nearly right. In fact, we had the dining room all to ourselves at Olive Garden.

The difference between not explaining what you're up to and assuring your victim darling that you are a blogger after all.

The waitress did not leave us tongs so we had to improvise. I had no idea how fast Darling Daughter's hands were moving, but she hadn't eaten all day.


This is the L.L. Bean tree — a spruce. I think it looks quite lovely even in fog and rain. Yes, there are orbs in the trees.


 This was the row of lights and wreaths outside the Home Store part of L.L. Bean. Love those galvanized buckets!

 ~Hunting and Fishing and The Big Boot~



One of Freeport's side streets...I just liked the hip-roofed brick building with the wreaths at all windows.


A wonderful carving of three black bears in a tree trunk on The Green.

It was a fun day and I did get some Christmas shopping done. My daughter was very patient with her old mum who was barely toddering by day's end. She said that she didn't get as much done as she had hoped. Of course not! That's what you get when you take an old lady shopping, but may the good deed be returned in multiple ways. ☺


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