Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas afterglow...

Carl Larsson:  I call this
"Reading by the Christmas Cactus"

Our kids have all gone back to school or to their homes.  The Christmas tree still stands -- lit and beautiful, the wreaths remain hanging festively on the doors and windows, there are a few Christmas cookies left to nibble along with coffee.   I have a couple packages for friends still unopened underneath the tree that must wait. The Christmas cactus refuses to stop blooming and now my orchid has a tiny bud forming (!).  Both live in my laundry room as you know. I've thought about cleaning up Christmas, but I think I shall go on celebrating a little while longer in the afterglow like the Christmas cactus does, and remember all the loved ones who were here with us to celebrate.  You too?

Hubs and I took our 20-year-old baby to the airport yesterday and then did a little post-Christmas bargain shopping. It was fun, and we both found a few things -- necessary clothing items -- and of course, a couple tiny things begged picking up for our new grandbaby, Ruth. Sometimes we call her Baby Ruth even though it's the name of a candy bar. She is sweet after all! 

I took a long, snowy walk today, even though it was quite cold. I buckled on my snowshoes and kept to the shelter belts to avoid the wind.  Upon my first steps into the trees, I saw a pair of owls sternly looking at me and wondering why I should enter their domain with such loud tramping.   And there was another owl in the North Shelter belt who was skiddish of the dog and me tramping in his woods.  Still, it was a joy to watch them fly whenever we got very close  -- so graceful and silently they wooshed past.  I didn't see any jackrabbits today.  I know they are out there.  The tracks are everywhere, but they are not to be found much in the daytime, or perhaps they are just too hard for my eyes to see when they sit ever so still in the snow.  They've turned totally white now and blend in perfectly.
What's happening at your house these last days of December?
God bless you, my friends!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

From the workshop...

A little girl's play kitchen made from a 1970s thrifted coffee table.
More play kitchen ideas here.

 Dolly diapers, pattern here.

Dolly crib, pattern here.
My carpenter-son helped me with this one.

Bibs for a new baby boy.  Tutorial here.

This granny had a lot of fun getting creative this Christmas season.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Our little granddaughter was delivered
December 22, 2012
Ruth Kathryn
She's a beauty.
All is well.

I can't help thinking about this scripture:
"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."
(Luke 2:19)

So many things to wonder about, to look for, 
to wait for, to see manifested in a small  life.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Carl Larsson (Swedish Realist Painter, 1853-1919) 
Lisbeth with Yellow Tulip
(doesn't she look like she's waiting for a baby to come soon?)

This particular Advent Season, my family and I are waiting for a baby.  To me, it is a prayerful, hopeful anticipation of the day we know is coming soon.  In these last days of our daughter's  pregnancy, I awake each morning and think, "This could be the day.  Perhaps we will get a phone call."  Every week I see my daughter as she goes to another doctor's appointment, heavy with child, and the realization becomes more and more clear and evident --she is one day closer to her delivery.  The waiting and wondering and concern for health and well-being will be over, and we will be glad that the child is born.  We will touch and smell, we will cuddle and coo, we will smile and bless, and praise God that the child is with us.

Until that day, we pray and watch, anticipate and prepare.  As we wait for a new life to be delivered to us, it reminds me that this should always be my mindset and my hope in Jesus.  I remember well one Christmas Eve long ago when we were singing Oh Little Town of Bethlehem in church.  When we came to the verse that says, "Be born in us today," my heart melted.  As a mother, I knew the oneness I had with a child living and growing inside me, and I knew the exhausting work of labor and then the joy of delivering a child.  In that Christmas hymn, God showed me how very near He is and how near He will always stay.  

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts, the blessings of His heaven
No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

If you give a mouse a cookie...

Today I had the cookie baking bug.  I made our favorite Soft Molasses Cookies and then I decided to try out a Snickerdoodle recipe.  I didn't grow up on Snickerdoodles and neither did Hubby and so therefore our kids did not eat Snickerdoodle.  It is not a cookie that is in my repertoire, but today I baked my first-ever batch of Snickerdoodles from my worn out Betty Crocker cookbook, and like I so often do, I made an alteration.  I dumped a cup or so of Hershey's Cinnamon Chips into the dough.  Oh dear, these were so good.  Next up was a cookie that I've made a few times before.  It's from Susan Branch's book, Christmas from the Heart of the Home, and the recipe is Annie Hall's Butter Cookies.  They are scrumptious in their own right, but today I was thinking of Pecan Sandies so I made the butter cookie recipe, rolled the dough into small 1 inch balls, dipped one half in course sugar and then smooshed a pecan half into each ball and baked them as per the recipe.  It was just as I had imagined -- buttery, sweet, with a rich nutty crunch. 

I've been sharing cookies and coffee today with three Hereford ranchers who came to look at bulls.   They liked the bulls and the cookies.  Hubs and I have been "off sugar" for a couple months although I occasionally will have a cookie (a single cookie) now and then.  Well, today I had 4.  Or was it 5?  I'm really not sure now.  I lost track.  If you give a mouse a cookie, she'll ask for another one.  That's how the story goes around here!  Hubs....well, he didn't even have one!   He just had a few pecans.   He's a good boy!  

Are you baking cookies?  What are your family favorites?

Sunday, December 09, 2012

All creatures great and small....

 All things bright and beautiful,  

All creatures great...

and small,

All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,

How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well. 

 ~Cecil Frances Alexander
(read the whole poem here

Is it any wonder that our Lord Jesus was born in a lowly place amongst the creatures, great and small?   I know the song, Friendly Beasts, is just a sweet old English carol, but I like to think of it when I'm out walking in nature this time of year.

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. 
Praise the LORD!
~Psalm 150:6
(A Pause In Advent)

Friday, December 07, 2012

Breaking a trail...

It snowed!  Finally, it has come!  We've been waiting and praying for moisture for so very long and at last it has arrived in the form of snow.  We'll take it!  Just 3-4 inches fell, but it is glorious and wet and beckoned me out for a walk to the mailbox.  The snow fell straight down last night --  just like in the movies.  Then this morning it continued to fall gently and stay calm.  I figured the wind could begin to blow any time, so I took advantage of the moment and broke a trail on the road.  I love to be the first one to walk down a path covered with fresh snow.  I did see a rabbit trail that was snowed over, but otherwise, Sue and I were the first to trek up the road today.

The horses were happy with the new-fallen snow and were out romping and trotting all about the pasture like young foals.  Then they began to roll in the snow!  Snow angels perhaps?  Or maybe it felt more like taking a shower.  See how wet Copper's back is?  They were all soaking wet when I went to pet them.  They thought I had a little cake in my hands to feed them, but all I had to give was my love and a hearty pat around the nose and neck.

 Horses in the snow.  Pretty, isn't it?

The birds were fanatical at the feeders today.  I filled the feeders to the brim and watched from the office window as they cracked sunflower seeds and spit the shells on the ground.   This little fella is a Common Red Poll.  You can see the red blush on his breast, but he also has a red topknot on his head that identifies him.  His wife was here too, but she is plainly clothed and more subdued in color.  

Photo from Cornell "All About Birds"

One of the neighborhood Northern Flickers took a try at eating seeds from the feeder today.  Never mind that he and his friends have dug holes all over my yard eating ants this fall.  Now the holes are covered over with snow so I suppose they are hungry.  I need to set out some suet for all my winter birds.  I'm so delighted they stayed on with us, and I want to reward them with a treat.

Fresh snowfall seems to bring great joy to all creatures.  It's fun to see their footprints everywhere as they, too, break trails into the fresh snow.  It's beginning to look wintry again, and I'm glad for it.  It's a whole new world out there!  What is it like where you live?

Monday, December 03, 2012


 It's time to be making paper stars again.  This is a re-run of an old post, but with some updated photos.  This is a fun project to do with kids and the results are very impressive.

What you will need:

Star pattern
Card stock
exacto-knife or sharp knife
adhesive spray
clear crystal glitter

What to do:

You will want to begin this project by finding a good five-point star pattern to print and trace. I found three sizes here and a large star template here.  Just print stars onto card stock and cut them out or you can cut them out and trace several on a sheet of card stock.

Lay your star onto a cutting board. Take a heavy ruler and lay it across the star at each point and angle. Gently score with an exacto-knife or sharp paring knife, making nice, straight lines through the middle each time. Next, you will gently fold the star on each line and then lay it on the table to squinch up the star so that each point is folded upward and each angle is folded downward. You'll see what I mean when you start to play with your stars.

Now the fun begins! Take your folded stars, newspaper, adhesive spray, and glitter and go to the garage. The smell of the spray is a little strong so you want to do this in a well-ventilated area. Spray a light coat of adhesive onto each star and quickly sprinkle clear crystal glitter over each one. Shake them off and turn them over onto a dry sheet of newspaper to glitter the backside if you want to. Allow your stars to dry indoors especially if it's cold in the garage. Pour your excess glitter back into the bottle.

You can set up your stars on a mantel, shelf, or hang them by punching one tip of your star with a needle and thread. Hang in windows at varying lengths for a pretty effect. I have also hung stars on the Christmas tree. I think they'd be cute on a gift or tucked into a wreath. These are every bit as attractive as the tin stars that I have seen in gift shops.

I made a new tree topper today out of pages from an old hymnal and then glued a glitter star into the middle.  I was inspired by Dawn at 4:53.   I'm happy!  You too?

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee...

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is setting up the creche.  
This year it sits on a log underneath the Christmas tree.
Our creche is very small -- just 2.75" tall, but the details are large.
See the faces of the determined ones who say,
"Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, 
and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."
(Luke 2:15)
 Young and old seek Him.... do the wise, the rich, and the poor, 
the strong, and those who are weak.

Angels adored Him...

...and proclaimed Him singing out to those who had ears to hear,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, 
peace, good will toward men."
(Luke 2:14)
His name is Emmanuel
 which means, "God with us."
O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.


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