Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Last Day

Today is the last day of 2011.  In the blink of an eye, we've grown a whole year older.  We've experienced ups and downs.  We've had joys and sorrows.  We have laughed and cried.  All across the world, people will gather to say goodbye to one year and usher in another.

Today, on this last day of 2011, I am counting my blessings.  I am cherishing the memories of the past and looking forward to the opportunities to come.  May God bless you and your family in 2012.

Happy New Year! 

~ Image from

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Preparation Week - Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is here.  I have to say that my favorite day of the year is not Christmas, but Christmas Eve.  I think that it is the anticipation, the waiting and the journey that causes me to love this day so much.  While the day of Christmas is filled with presents and the momentary pleasures, Christmas Eve is filled with contemplation.  Thinking, waiting . . . . hoping.

On this Christmas Eve, I want to share something important to me about our Christmas tree.  Our Christmas tree is decorated with many of the same things that grace the trees in many homes.  Glittering lights, shiny balls, and cute decorations hang from the limbs of our tree.  A few things with extra special meaning also adorn those branches.  We have two gold cross decorations on our tree.  The gold ribbon that encircles our tree is inlaid with gold crosses.  One branch bends under the weight of a long, heavy nail.

These ornaments are not just for decoration.  They are to remind us that the birth of the Christ Child was just the beginning.  They are to remind us that Jesus came with the purpose of dying.  They remind us of the great hope we have, because of his sacrifice.  When Jesus came to earth, his heavenly throne and crown were exchanged for the future of the the cross and crown of thorns.  The constant praise that he must have experienced in Heaven was turned in for the scorn and mocking of human kind.  On Christmas Eve, I don't want to forget that Jesus Christ came to die for me.

I don't want to forget this most precious gift even more this year, because His sacrifice made it possible for my grandfather to join Him in Heaven earlier this week.  On Tuesday, my grandpa went on to be with the Lord.  I am able to rejoice in the blessing of knowing that Heaven awaited him, because of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  I am also able to rejoice, knowing that because I have chosen to trust in the Lord, Heaven awaits me someday.

Solemn thoughts, for such an exciting holiday.  In reality, they are the most important thoughts one can contemplate.  I am so thankful for a legacy of faith.  I am praying that I can leave a legacy of faith to those who will come after me.  May the Lord bless you and keep you this Christmas Eve.

~ In loving memory of my Grandpa Ralph

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Preparation Week - Cookie Time

Cookies, cookies, cookies . . . . oh, how I love cookies.  My favorite cookie recipe brings the Christmas spirit by chauffeuring in memories of my childhood.  There is no, peppermint, no fancy fudge, no fruitcake that brings Christmas to me the way this little cookie does.  Memories of my mother making holidays special surround the aura of this special treat.  Could I eat it any time of the year?  Sure I could eat it any time, and there is not a day that wouldn't be heightened by it, but there is no way I would want my Christmas to be without it.  What makes up this cookie?  PEANUT BUTTER and CHOCOLATE!  Here it is:

Peanut Butter Blossoms (a.k.a. Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies)
(adapted from Better Home and Gardens - New Cook Book)
1/2 cup margarine or butter - (softened helps the dough mix well)
1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth is our choice)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8. tsp. baking soda
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Milk chocolate kisses (or for a really special treat - mini  Reese's Peanut Butter Cups)

Cream together margarine and peanut butter.  Add 1/2 cup granulated and brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.  Mix until combined.  Add in egg, milk and vanilla and mix well.  Mix in as much flour on low speed.  Refrigerate until cool.  Roll into 1-inch balls then roll balls in 1/4 cup sugar (add more sugar if needed).  (At this point, the cookies freeze well.  You can prepare ahead, and have cookies at a moment's notice.)  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie tray.  Bake in 350 degree oven 10 - 12 minutes until edges are slightly firm.  After removing from oven immediately press a chocolate kiss or mini peanut butter cup into the center.  Transfer to parchment/wax paper (or if you're like my mom was 20 years ago - old newspaper) and cool.  If you don't have the patience to wait for them to cool, you're in for a special treat.  While still warm, they are ooey and gooey and melt in your mouth.  Oh, what a cookie!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Preparation Week - Music To My Ears

What sets the mood for Christmas?  For me, it is the music.  I love Christmas music, and we listen to it throughout the months of November and December.  Not only do I listen to Christmas music, but I also sing and  even play a few Christmas tunes on the piano.  I have passed my love of Christmas music on to my children.  Both of the older boys have been practicing Christmas songs for the last few weeks. 

With all that music being played on the piano, some preparation was needed.  My sweet hubby  had the piano tuned for my birthday (back in late October).  Boy, does that man know the way to my heart, or what?!?!  I have been so happy to hear the sweet tinkling (and occasional pounding) of the piano keys, especially since they are now in tune!

Have you ever looked inside a  piano?  My boys had a lovely lesson on the inner workings of the piano.  It makes it so much more fun to know how the instrument you practice daily works.  I hope you have the opportunity to be blessed with sweet music this Christmas Season.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Preparation Week - Gingerbread with Grammy

How did this little cottage come to be?

Lots of concentration.


Lots of yummy supplies.


Taking turns.

More teamwork. 

 It was worth the time and effort!

(This little cottage has two front doors . . . I had to show you both!)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Preparation Week - The Nativity

I must admit, I have an obsession with nativity scenes.  I love to decorate with nativity scenes, and I have many displayed throughout the house during the month of December.  I even have one that I leave up year-round in my office.  I do think that my obsession comes with a very reasonble explanation.

Simply put, they remind me of the "Reason for the Season".  I love to have reminders throughout the house of Christs' birth.  When I see them, I have a physical reminder of why we are celebrating.  It helps me focus, slow down and enjoy the little moments. 

As Christmas Day comes closer and closer and the prepartaions gain momentum, I pray for the peace of the Lord to fill your home and ours!

Favorite Festive Photos for Friday

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas". . . . and pink and blue and green and . . . .  Yes, Christmas is just over a week away and I'm dreaming in techno-color.  Take a look for yourself!

As much as I would like to say that I manufactured these pictures from my dreams, I have to admit that they come from a Christmas store.  But, I'm still dreaming anyway! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Going With The Flow

Did you ever come upon a moment when you had the choice of going with the flow or forcing things to stick to your agenda?  I struggle when I'm faced with those moments.  What is more important, being flexible or following through with the itinerary.  I do think that there are times when the agenda MUST be accomplished.  Other times, flexibility can bring about special moments that couldn't otherwise be duplicated.  Today was one of those days where I was faced with a choice . . . .

The kids and I were in the car, with a list of errands that needed attention.  I had prioritized and written the list in the order that I thought would best be accomplished.  Instead of listening to Christmas music, as has been the custom since Thanksgiving, we spent the first part of the car ride chatting amicably.  After a while, I realized that I had missed my turn.  I told the boys that I had come the wrong way.  The boys asked, "Does this mean we have to turn around?" 

I answered, "No, it'll just take a little longer this way."  I continued on, explaining that old habits had taken over, and I had come the way I used to go to school. 

They boys asked a few questions and then said, "Would you show us your old school?"  I was very quiet for a moment.  I didn't want to take the twenty minutes out of our errand time, because we were on a set time limit and I knew we wouldn't be able to get it all done if we deviated from the plan.

After the moment was up, I decided to opt for flexibility.  We went the extra mile (or two) and drove to see the off campus branch of the university that I attended the last two years of high school.  (I am so thankful for the post secondary program that allowed me to earn college credits while I was in high school.)  The boys enjoyed the sights.  I was amazed at all the changes that had taken place in the years since I had been there.

We continued on, and I mentally shifted the list so that our shopping would be sure to get done.  We stopped at Sam's Club first, instead of last.  I then deviated from the list again, and went through the store backwards.  I know to some of you, this may seem silly, for how can you go through a store backwards????  I am a person who like predictability, so I always go through the store in the same way, but today was about flexibility. 

Not two minutes in the store, we bumped into Grandpa (my dad).  If I would have not been going the "wrong" way, we might have missed each other completely.  I think that especially because this was not planned, we were even more delighted to see him.  We quickly made our purchases, and then sat down to a impromptu lunch with Grandpa.  We had so much fun.  The kids were happy all the way home, because their needs and desires were listened to .  We had the extra and unexpected treat of special time with family.

The thing is, if I had stuck to my "schedule", I would have missed out on the joys that God had in store for us.  Everything on the list would have been accomplished, but we would not have had the special time that was intended.  I know that God has the greater plan, and even when mine is visibly written in my hand, it is in my best interest to allow him to take charge of my agenda!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Favorite Festive Photos for Friday - Tree Lighting Edition

One of our favorite family traditions rolls around shortly after Thanksgiving.  We pull out the tree the first weekend in December and fill it with decorations.  After Mom (me) puts up the ribbon garland, the kids get to help put on the decorations.  

Big Brother hangs one of the wise men.

Little Man inspects one of the "ball-balls".

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mom . . . . what is that?

Do you ever hear your children ask this question, "Mom, what is that?", and wonder what they could be referring to.   My sweet five year old asked that question when we were downtown. 

I said, "Honey, what are you talking about?"

He said, "That machine, what is it?"  I looked and looked for "that" machine.  I finally spotted it.

Wow, maybe I should have titled this, "How to know when you should take your kids out more!"

Friday, December 2, 2011

Favorite Festive Photos for Friday

This summer, my mom and I shared the joy of visiting a shop (OK . . . a mega-shop) filled with all things Christmas.  While it has been a while since we took that little trip, I haven't forgotten the lovely time we had.  I have to say that watching my mom stroll through the shop was like watching a kid in a candy store.  See the smile on her face?  She had a wonderful time - and I had a wonderful time watching her.  


What  a delight.

 Christmas decorations make me happy.

Clearly, they also make my mom happy.

Enjoy the holiday season, and delight in the little things!