Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Who, being in very nature God,
Did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself.

Philippians 2:6-8

Christmas Eve finds us all waiting in anticipation. I can still remember so vividly those days before Christmas when as a child I would patiently wait for those long days to finally end. That's a good description of my girls these days too. Charlotte asks every morning, "Is this the day we open our presents?"

But now the longing has a deeper desire, a more permanent residence has taken hold of my see Him face to face. The true Christmas longing.

We leave tomorrow morning for Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia and then we travel on to Philadelphia,Pennsylvania. This will culminate our Early American History studies. We have spent months reading and writing about it, now Rose shall experience some of the things firsthand.

Merry Christmas to all! I will return the first of the new year......

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Some Favorite Christmas Watchings

On the second day before Christmas.......

Because I was too tired to do anything else this afternoon, I watched Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" all by myself while knitting a blue wool sock with a most soothing pattern. The girls played outside with friends.

There are certain favorite Christmas videos that have become our traditional watching fare on the days leading up to Christmas. Tomorrow all six of us have plans to watch our all time favorite "It's A Wonderful Life". It would seem we had skipped a huge part of Christmas if we failed in watching it sometime over the holiday season. They just don't make them that good anymore.

A priceless joy of Christmas is the timely blooming of this red amaryllis. I randomly photographed it for the past two weeks from bud to full glory.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cookies and Caroling

On the fourth day before Christmas........

We did what we always do every single Sunday morning, we went to church to worship. That afternoon Charlotte performed her ninth and final performance in "The Nutcracker" ( five were during the weekdays for the public schools in town). After a small party gathering, we were able to come home wonderfully tired and ready to cozy in for the evening and light the fourth Advent candle as we read from the Gospel of Luke.

On the third day before Christmas......

The girls and I whipped up a batch of cookies. Charlotte bundled herself up to go outside to play in the wintry weather we are presently experiencing. Upon realizing that she needed to decorate another batch of cookies with M&M's, she slipped off her mittens and held on to her hat ties as she decorated the cookies with her own rendition of smiling faces. She urged me not to take a picture of her in her fluffy coat. For some reason Charlotte calls this her fluffy coat and she is certainly not partial to it, I'm really not sure why.

Some of the neighbors and children braved this cold still night and walked around the neighborhood Christmas caroling. It was a welcomed feeling to come in from the cold, shivering but ready to enjoy good company while feasting on all the shared goodies.

However, Charlotte does at least like her knitted hat.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wrapped Up

On the fifth day before Christmas......

Gift wrapping central became the scene in my bedroom.

My husband has been wrapping all our gifts since our very first Christmas together as husband and wife. He looked at my gift wrapping ability and decided it would not do at all. Since I have never mastered the art of wrapping lovely packages and figured that is the reason "those bags" were invented for people like me, I calmly got out of his way. He is now trying to train the next generation by teaching Rose how to cut, fold and wrap. Unfortunately, he is under no obligation to write the name tags so I must undertake that job. It behooves him that I do not attach and write them as he is wrapping each gift. Obviously, he does not know my technique of keeping track of which gift belongs to whom. But then I also have a backup plan...... that is the one that bugs him the most......*smile*.

dancing steps and blowing candles

On the sixth day before Christmas........

Ballet performances were attended and birthdays were celebrated.

This is Charlotte's first year of training in classical ballet. The dance studio she attends performs"The Nutcracker" every December. Rehearsals began in October and for a nonprofessional group of students from kindergarten through twelfth grade they do an excellent job of performing this classic ballet.
Charlotte was a beautiful angel who gracefully danced little steps on the stage with the cutest little pasted on smile. Friday was opening night, she performs twice on Saturday and the final performance will be Sunday afternoon. We shall rest after this exhausting week!

In the midst of all this we managed to celebrate my husband's birthday with a family supper. He requested a pecan pie since we have had so many cakes lately.

I honestly can't say what my recent deal is with putting only one candle on celebratory birthday "cakes" since I did the same with my own a couple of weeks ago. We certainly are not that old and winded.........

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Makings

On the seventh day before Christmas..........

A glorious afternoon spent making memories at a Mother/Daughter Christmas Tea.

Duets were played on the piano.

Crunchy pastry cups filled with delectable chicken salad served along side other tasty treats.

Spicy mulled cider simmering on the stove and then offered in red etched glass mugs.

And don't forget the presents! Soft hand knitted scarves, colorful stripped hats, embroidered pieced pillows and twisted wrist bracelets with intricate designs all made by the girls themselves.

Thank you Lord for my daughters.
And for allowing me the satisfaction of spending a part of my day with their lovely selves and in the company of other precious kindred spirits. Amen

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Biscuit Maker's Granddaughter

On the eighth day before Christmas.......

.........Buttermilk biscuits were made for supper using my grandmother's red, wooden handled pastry cutter.

If this little gadget could talk it would tell of all the many batches of biscuits it has helped "cut" through the years. My grandmother made biscuits in the morning and once again in the evening without fail. She had a little pantry o
ff her kitchen with a window that overlooked a handmade bird feeder. The shelf was low since my grandmother was a little woman with a stature of only five feet. On it rested a wooden board, a wooden rolling pin, the wooden handled pastry cutter and the biscuit cutter. Every morning she put together the ingredients for her biscuits, tossed a dusting of flour over the wooden surface and began the timeless movements of creating.....a humble batch of biscuits.

When my brothers, sister and I barreled into her house later on during the day, we could always anticipate finding cold biscuits setting on a plate on the kitchen counter. To us no other snack would be as special. It was only later, as a grown-up woman, that I realized she had a way of making the simple things seem divine even in a treat of leftover biscuits.

I love the heritage of carrying on the task of biscuit making. I by no means make them every day, but I can not think of any better way to say love than in a batch of biscuits!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


On the ninth day before Christmas.....

My husband and I finally went Christmas shopping, even if the night was cool and rainy.

Sensibility is the key to Christmas gift giving, so while our children do receive gifts from us, it is done in moderation. We always like to think about the three gifts Baby Jesus was given by the Wisemen and try to stay with that same idea when buying Christmas presents for our children.

My younger children watch very little TV so they are not as savvy about what the commercials and ads are attempting to ignite as the "wanta and gotta have monster". Of course, they do not live in a vacuum either, so choosing gifts they would like to have and of which they know we will approve is done without any difficulty whatsoever.

Just in case you are wondering, the carolers sit atop my piano in the living room. At one per year it took us six years to complete our collection. They make me smile and that's reason enough to pull them out every December.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Few Exchanges

On the tenth day before Christmas.......

Mulling spices and scented candles filled the air with the smells of Christmas at the home of this year's hostess for the annual ornament exchange. A group of fabulous ladies ( fifteen including myself) got together and exchanged Christmas ornaments. And then we all ate ourselves silly, because that seems to be what ladies like to do when there is a spread of sweets and savories set before them.

For a brief while this afternoon a friend stopped by with her lovely daughters and while the girls laughed and talked, I showed her how to make a yo-yo. She was atingle with delight...... and she would like that word in describing her enthusiasm and joy....atingle.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Celebrating Advent

On the eleventh day before Christmas........

...... Christmas carols are played on the piano.

All the traditional favorites are played from the church hymnal I received many years ago as a result of perfect attendance in the Junior Choir. I own some lovely versions of Christmas piano music, but I find myself always reaching for and just settling into this comfortable hymnal, especially when we have singalongs.

...... As well as gathering around the piano to light the Advent candles as the Word according to Isaiah is read. Almost in hushed tones "Lo How A Rose Ere Blooming" is sung with a modicum of reverence.

O come let us adore Him!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Making pillows and quilting

On the twelfth day before Christmas......

Rose was busily sewing a pillow for a friend.

In Polished Cornerstones the girls drew names and the deal was to give a gift that you had made yourself. Rose made a pieced pillow. Many skills were required and learned while doing this craft. Choosing the pattern and fabrics, cutting the pattern, sewing on a machine, embroidering, and then the process required for the cording and backing.

I must make a huge confession here. I sat down to teach her the art of quilting the patches and since she had no interest whatsoever, I merrily quilted along until I completed the entire pillow! I couldn't help myself, it was beyond enjoyable.

Many years ago, in the years before the birth of my children, I quilted. I enrolled in a class at the community college where I made a full sized quilt completely by hand....every single stitch was pieced by hand and then quilted! I can't even believe it myself.

After the birth of my first son I would spend the winter months piecing and quilting pillows with the extra fabric leftovers. Sadly this was another thing that has fallen along the wayside.

I am itching to pick up my needle and begin quilting again. But it will most definitely be pieced on the machine this go round, I have nothing to prove. But first there is the baby afghan to finish since the wee one entered the world early this December morn.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

His Light

" For behold, Darkness shall cover the Earth, and gross Darkness the Peoples;but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and His Glory shall be seen upon thee." Isaiah 60:2

Looking forward this evening to what is for me the highlight of this Advent season......attending the Oratorio Society's full orchestra performance of Handel's Messiah. It has been an annual event for the members of my family for years and I have already mentioned to Charlotte that she shall be allowed to attend next year, when she is six.

December has the shortest days of the year as the darkness dissipates later in the morning and falls earlier in the evening. Christmas could only be celebrated during such a month with all the extra lights glimmering and glittering everywhere one happens to look. This month is just altogether brighter as it very well should be.

Early morning quiet times of solitude, prayer and scripture reading have moved to the amethyst toile rocker above. Actually this has been the case for several months when sitting outside was either too dark or too cold.

"Arise, Shine, for thy Light is come....."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

dreaming and wishing upon

Who could forget those days of catalog dreaming? I receive a heap of glossy mail order magazines throughout the year, but at this time of year the flood is completely overwhelming. The children too are recipients of their fair share especially during this time of year. I call them the Dream and Wish books.

Upon their arrival in the mail Charlotte would spend an hour or so daily slowly turning the shiny pages mesmerized with all the possibilities. Dreaming and wishing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Sound of Christmas

While in the *Dollar Store* the other day, these Christmas CD's were discovered in a corrugated box display in the aisle. Instrumental music of piano, harp, and viola ready to be purchased for a dollar each. So three dollars poorer I emerged from the store with new listening music in the bag. (I figured for three dollars even if they were mediocre it was not too much of a loss.)

These CD's are superb! I have them so that whenever I walk into the kitchen all I must do is push a button and harmonious instrumental music trails throughout the room with the joyful sound of Christmas.

And that is exactly what I want these days, Christmas music flowing in the rooms of my house.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Birthday cake at its best

Every year I would drop subtle hints of what I truly wanted above all other gifts. Years would come and years would go; I was obviously not getting my wishes across even though I was the recipient of very nice gifts indeed. Finally, I determined a better plan of action so I point blank asked for a birthday cake. It worked for a couple of years. If it was remembered ahead of time, a special cake was ordered from a nice bakery. Other times a hurried stop by the grocery store would suffice. And once it was even after supper and my husband grabbed his coat and headed out the door only to return 30 minutes later with a cake.

These days if I desire a birthday cake, I happily make it myself.

I love it when the cookbook makes it so decisive for you.

I was serenaded with "Forever Young" this evening. They know who bakes the cake!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Covered Buttons

Remember this sweater?

After completing it some while back I had in my mind to find the perfect buttons. I was thinking covered buttons would add a pretty touch But alas, I started hunting for store bought ones, but without success whatsoever. So began my venture in seeking for the perfect fabric ( must stick with the original plan). In the attic I discovered an old piece of fabric inherited from my parents before their moving days. Might just be the perfect fabric for the perfect buttons.

It was. I love my sweater which reminds me of the sea.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Baby Gift

Advent in my heart as I prepare for celebrating a baby being born over two thousand years Saviour.

Crocheting a baby afghan of the creamiest shade of blue with a touch as soft as kitten's fur. I have entered a new realm with my friends' children now having children. This dear friend is expecting her first grandson in three weeks. Therefore, I crochet by the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree.

Prayer in every stitch in preparation for a Christmas baby.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Making pie crusts

For some reason or other my husband bought some frozen pie crusts back when they were on sale and as I was preparing to make my pie crusts for our Thanksgiving pies, he wanted to know why I was not using those frozen pie crusts stored in the extra freezer in the garage. Considering how I have been making my own pie crusts for some time now all I could do was look at him. Some things will always remain a mystery to me.The pumpkin pie recipe along with the coconut custard were lying on the counter and it was time to teach the girls the art of pie crust making.

Simple as pie!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Unto the least of these.....

"Jesus loves me this I know..." These precious words were song by a few gathered to bring His love and grace to a few disabled adults in a care home.

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."


Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Saturday in November

Cold temperatures have set in around here for the time being. The colorful array of leaves have disappeared from the tree's branches leaving them bare, but far from empty. As Charlotte observed last week, " I can see so many bird nests in the trees!" The blaring sound of leaf blowers can be heard at all times throughout the day. I drink in the flavor of November. Even the name of the month, NO-VEM-BER, has a musical lilt to it. The distinct smells in the air and the manner in which the light creatively filters through on all objects, still or stationary, makes me sigh.

Today was a day for cold weather things. A trip to the yarn shop with my sweet husband. Who I might add patiently waited while I had a skein of this yarn hand rolled into a ball by the shop owner's mother no less. She was visiting her daughter from the state of New York and since I was the designated yarn holder, we were able to carry on a delightful conversation.

Chili was made and set in the crock pot before venturing out; so comforting for supper with added condiments of cheese and sour cream. Another favorite soup was also made this afternoon, Corn Chowder. I will give the recipe because it is fresh on my mind now. It is one of the soups, like chili, with a recipe which seems to be just thrown together without need of specific recipe

Corn Chowder

Saute 1 cup onions in 2 teaspoons of butter until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
Add 3 cups of corn. ( I use fresh corn I have frozen and thawed beforehand)
2 cups of potatoes, cut into cubes
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add 1 cup sour cream and 1 cup milk. This is where you may adjust for personal taste depending on whether you like it thick or thin.
If you like you might think about adding a little shredded cheddar cheese before serving.

Served in a pottery bowl steaming with corn bread muffins make a wonderful meal for a cold evening at home.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Maid Service

Cleaning. I really do like to clean house. It is not just the end result that I love so much, but the process as well. For me it is a part of homemaking that I readily embrace. However, there have been times in my life for various reasons that I have hired someone to clean my house for me.

Oh..... on those days I would glide into a spotlessly clean house and I must confess it would give me a fantastic dust bunnies, no grime, mopped floors, shiny services, everything in its place. Yet by the next morning I realized that I had spent quite a bit of money for something that was already beginning to look rather shabby. So it turned out to be an extremely expensive and short-lived "high".

And wasn't that a part of my job description anyway? My husband worked hard enabling me to stay home and not be concerned about working outside the home to contribute to the family's income. My portion was vital and consequently important.

But lately I must find the time needed to invest in a job well done. A "lick and a promise" only goes so far. I have barely been able to manage a lick, much less a promise. New direction was the call of the day.

I started with my bedroom and bathroom. The day's agenda was to concentrate totally on cleaning these two rooms, but clean them thoroughly. I started in the bathroom and by late afternoon I had completed my goals and finished the bedroom, which even included washing the ceiling fan. In between I managed schooling and laundry, straightened other rooms of the house, and among other things.. delved out more winter clothes as well as putting up those last remaining warm weather clothes....I stopped to observe Charlottes' tent, took a wintry walk around the block,and instructed Rose in cutting out a skirt pattern. I was then motivated to continue on with the vacuuming of other rooms.

Tonight I am tired, but satisfied. I shall glide into my squeaky clean bathroom and rest peacefully in my spotless bedroom. After all,the maid sleeps here!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Seeing is believing

Upon acquiring Mr. Putter, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Tasha Tudor books took on an entirely new meaning. We began truly seeing the many corgis in the pages of her books. Laughter and pure delight escaped us as we realized how well she depicted a favorite resting pose of this breed. Here is living proof. Corgis do indeed sleep in this position!

So cold and windy today. There is a call of frost tonight, therefore I expect all my remaining flowers to meet their end by dawn's early light tomorrow. I bundled up and took Mr. Putter for his daily walk. As I came up the driveway I could not resist picking the last spray of mums to bring inside and pluck into a vase. I shall remember the fading beauty of autumn as the winter's chill begins.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Riding Aside

Following along with November Saturdays and horses, today was the sidesaddle demo and tea. I am very satisfied that Rose is taking an interest in riding aside. It is classically graceful, ladylike, and elegant. Today's demo showed various forms of riding, the clothing, and the saddle types.
Now remember this was also a "tea"; a far cry from the one we attended at the fancy hotel, as this one was in a barn. Styrofoam cups with hot water and tea bag, black currant, worked for me.

A table was set with cucumbers sandwiches, that were excellent I might inject, sweet breads of carrot and zucchini, along a crisp ginger snap cookie.

The author of this book spoke about the history of sidesaddle riding and relayed a wealth of information on the basics of riding aside. And lucky Rose was the door prize winner of her book which will be moved to the top of our reading pile.I am hooked!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Yuletide Yo-Yos

Several years ago I was invited to join fifteen ladies in an annual ornament exchange. Since there happen to be some very creative women in the group, I have been a beneficiary to some absolutely outstanding ornaments that are treasures to be pulled out each year and hung on my tree.
Every year when the activity level in my family picks up speed, I find myself wondering how I will ever get my ornaments done. Fifteen ornaments seem disturbingly daunting. But thanks to an old age art and this tutorial I was able to whip up some lovely ornaments in no time at all. The fabrics came from here and the buttons were gathered from the trusty button box inherited from my maternal grandmother.

The girls and I enjoyed them so much we are planning to get some Christmas fabric and make them to grace our packages.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Horse Shows

For the past two Saturday mornings Rose and I have started out early in order for her to test her interest in the world of horse competition. One was a 4-H event while the other was held at an horse farm about an hours drive away.Nervousness made the events serious, but a relaxed pose should come with experience I assume.
But winning a blue ribbon for showmanship brought plenty of smiles.

The most fun was the 4-H costume event. In keeping with a patriotic theme since we have been heavy in studying Early American History lately, Rose chose to dress as Betsy Ross and ride sidesaddle. Her instructor has a sidesaddle and was more than happy to give Rose a lesson in this old-fashioned ladies style of riding. Actually we will be attending a sidesaddle demo and tea this Saturday afternoon. I am looking forward to it.
Even Riley must get into proper attire with a braided tail of red, white and blue ribbons.

An end never looked so good!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fried Green Tomatoes

It is a fact. Summer tomatoes are probably one of my favorite foods. I can take a fresh, red vine-picked tomato and bite into it it just like I would an apple. Nothing tastes so much like summer, and the tomatoes found in the store in the winter can never compare with homegrown ones.

I would consider it offensive to disallow the ripening of tomatoes on the vine during the warm weather. Silently I suppress any thoughts of the tantalizing fruit in another highly favored form. Yet before the first frost, I can hardly wait until the last of the tomatoes are plucked green and firm from the overgrown plants. They are immediately bought into the house and battered and fried without any qualms whatsoever. After all one can not cook fried green tomatoes without frying them. However, I do use olive oil.

Served along with the evening's meal these tangy delicacies are meant to be a side dish. But to me they are the main course.

But then they are also the appetizer because I have never been able to resist eating some before they are arranged on the platter and set on the the middle of the table. Like I said, the main course.

I do believe it is a good thing to have my computer back and running sufficiently once again. After all was said and done, everything had to be erased and reprogrammed ( but only after trying so many other things first). My virus protection had expired unbeknownst to me and Internet Explorer was having a big party. So now I have been given strict orders and" ground rules"...his words not mine. There are some glitches yet to be worked out in several areas and many places I can not visit until I find out how to access them properly and cleanly. And I do not like how my picture shows up on the comments I send! Sometimes I feel as if I am using an entirely different program altogether.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hotel Tea

A windy Tuesday afternoon in autumn is perfect for taking tea in a fanciful hotel.
The miniature roses caught the mood for daintiness and girly things. The afternoon sun warmed us inside and out as the day had turned rather brisk for this time of year.
The food was brought out and set before us on tiers and each plate was passed. Absolutely no one forsook anything offered.
The girls languishing after imbibing pots of tea with sugar cubes. The treats of chicken salad, roasted pepper, and cucumber (of course) sandwiches, crisp cheese wafers, shortbread, fruit, apple cinnamon scones with Devonshire cream and jam, and a delectable chocolate truffle had long since been eaten and the plates cleared by our gracious server. Minutes turned into hours and no one desired to leave .
Giggling and grinning, the little girls delighted in the huge revolving door. I must admit I was watching the fingers!

This was a first time tea event for my girls at this particular hotel, and one that I know they will remember.

It has been a favored afternoon tea spot for my friends and me through the years as we have met and caught up with the happenings of our lives and enjoyed the sweet comfort of friendship shared. May my daughters too know such things.

let's talk Shakespeare

And Shakespeare? He, indeed, is not to be classed, and timed, and treated as one amongst others,—he, who might well be the daily bread of th...