The Winter Season

The start of Winter.JPG

The last days have suddenly made the month of December real….weather-wise. We had been having unseasonably warm temperatures (and I was good with that). We are now having cooler than normal temps for this time of year. (Things change quickly!)

Our children had snow where they live so we know winter is on it’s way. My heart and mind are ready for the festive part of this season…..my mind and body are not ready for the weather that accompanies it.

In protest of the sudden drop into the deep freeze I am posting a couple of my favorite summer photos. They were taken in a city park not far from here. It is one of my favorite places to go and just walk around.  When our sons were small we used to take them there to go fishing.

I digress…..back to the reality that is……cold Iowa weather. There is a small comfort that we are only getting wind…it could be snow with wind this time of year…or worse yet….ice.

My husband had been to a consignment auction the beginning of this week.  That day the weather was not too bad. Today when we went to go pick up his lone purchase the wind was a lazy wind….the kind that blows right through you rather than around you. The consignment auction site is basically an alfalfa field. There are no trees to stop the vicious wind and the corn stubble in the next field is no help at all.

The one consolation with the cold wind was seeing the flocks of geese that finally decided it was time to go south. The last two days have seen large flocks of Canadians, snows and blues flying in big V’s over our place.  This brought to mind one of my dad’s favorite questions regarding geese and one you can ask your kids and grandkids. (I would be surprised if they knew the answer.)

Question: When geese are flying in a V formation why is one line always longer than the other?
Answer:   Because there are more geese in it.
(This joke, years ago, actually got one of my sons out of taking a science test in high school.  The teacher challenged them to ask her a science type question that she couldn’t answer….it worked!)

I think I love the geese flying over because they sometimes go right over our house. When they are flying low you can even hear them honking.  I wonder what they are saying as they hurry by, anxious to get to their destination. Some days the wind seems to be blowing them along and other days I wonder how they manage to make any headway against it.

Some days are like that….going with the wind and others feel like a struggle as things just seem to push you back to where you started. I guess a lesson from the geese could be learned…..keep flying and focusing on where you are going. Some days may take you longer…but you will get there.

Their honking has a lonesome wild sound to it that touches someplace deep inside. I am not sure if that sound hits me because it sounds so wild or if it sounds like a promise. It tells me that the seasons are running according to the order set in place at the beginning of this earth. It speaks of the constancy of certain things in life.

So many things can change and spin around in this world and turn life upside down; but the geese will still fly south when the weather turns wintry and they will return in the spring. They are as constant as grass turning green, wind blowing in Iowa and snow melting in the spring.

I love the promise that comes with the seasons. I love the order God built into this ball called Earth. I do know I appreciate spring and summer a lot more because of going through a cold winter season and maybe that is why we go through those seasons.

I also know that once the geese are done flying for this migration;  I will be scanning the sky when the spring thaw comes and I will be looking for their return. Such is the blessing of hope.

 

You have established all the boundaries of the earth;
You have made summer and winter.
Psalm 74:17

A Little Taste of Christmas

Christmas Program.JPG

My husband and I had the pleasure of attending our grandson’s school Christmas program this past week. I say it was a pleasure because it really was. Four days later, the thought of that program still brings a smile to my face and a feeling of contentment.

We enjoyed watching a large group of 3 – 5 year old preschoolers sing their love of Jesus. It was Wigglers.JPGso much fun watching them do actions, wave at their parents and grandparents, sing, wave some more, do some more actions (not all that belonged to the song) and yes wave at their siblings and parents…….

I was a little fearful that the back row of kids were going to fall off the risers and vanish, with all the squirming, twisting, turning, waving and peering around that they were doing. I thought the teachers showed great insight when they stationed themselves behind those risers and would steady the wiggling masses every now and then.

I discovered that little girls in their sparkly dresses, velvety hair bows, and shiny patent shoes were just as mobile as the small boys were. There was a lot of energy bouncing around on the risers that night.

Somewhere in the middle of all the waving, bouncing, and twisting; those little kids told the amazing story of Christmas. Maybe it was the innocence of children all dressed in their Christmas best….  Maybe it was the atmosphere of excitement…..Maybe it was the gathering of everyone in that gym who came because of love….I am still not totally sure, but somewhere between the start of that program and the ending; the real meaning of Christmas kind of washed over me.

The feeling stole in unnoticed and was covered by the sound of children. Perhaps the sound of children was part of it? All I know is by the time we finished that program and all sang Silent Night from memory there were tears in my eyes and I had the feeling that I had just made a visit to that stable in Bethlehem with a group of preschoolers as my guide.

I am convinced that children are some of the world’s best messengers when it comes to the Christmas story.  Their pure delight in praise, their uninhibited display of joy, and the love that lights up their eyes when they find their family in the crowd all testify to an unconditional love.

It was also a lot of fun to watch my grandchildren after that program.  The school served cookies, coffee and juice afterwards. I had to laugh when those two wee ones would look around to see if their folks were watching and if not, another cookie would quickly disappear into their mouths.  They were chewing as fast as they could.

Our weekend with our family passed way too quickly. It did not take long and we were on our way back home again. The morning we left we got to enjoy the seasons first snowfall with them. (I should say their season’s first snowfall.)

Our grandson woke us up that Sunday morning by running into our room and asking  if we had looked outside. I told him no we had not. In a voice filled with wonder he announced, “It snowed.”

It did not take long and the scrambling for snow pants, boots, mittens and hats started. They sat on the deck and made little miniature snowmen, complete with twig arms, raisin eyes and carrot noses.

After warming up with a cup of hot chocolate it was time for us to get in the car and make the long drive home and for them to head for church.  (fortunately for them, their church has an early and a late morning service.)

squirrelI do wonder if the raisin eyes and carrot noses on those snowmen survived till they got home from church…..their backyard is home to a lot of squirrels.  I have a feeling if they do disappear; it will not be a problem.  The energy and optimism of a three and a five year old will just go ahead and build some new snowmen.

Hope springs eternal in the hearts of children. Magic is to be found in every snowflake and life is something to be danced to like it was music…….and maybe it is……we might have to just listen closely with the heart of a child.

May we take the time to look at the coming week with the heart of a child.  Take time to dance and find the magic.

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:
the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.

Burton Hillis quotes 

Read more: http://www.searchquotes.com/quotes/about/Kids_Christmas/1/#ixzz4S2CPMeAY

The Princess Pig

Princess the Pig gets a snack.JPG

It is always hard to know what to get for the birthday of a three year old.  Do you purchase more toys? Do you construct something that will last for years? (I should say have your husband construct something….) Should a grandparent buy more books? It is just hard to know.

I asked my daughter in law what she would like my granddaughter to have. It was suggested to look for a piggy bank. When my husband and I went to the store to look for one we were amazed at the variety of banks that are now available to kids…..Elsa banks, Mickey Mouse banks, Darth Vader banks, and the list goes on.

I remember as a kid, having a clear glass piggy bank that had no way to get the money back out. No opening in the bottom with a rubber stopper. We became pretty adept at holding the pig upside-down, sticking a butter knife into the coin slot, wiggling the knife till coins were parallel and then moving the bank “just so” to have the coins slide back out.  This was way better than the alternative which was to just break the bank!

Once our banks did end up hitting the ground and shattering into thousands of tiny pieces our banking consisted of a nestles quick box.  I can still remember the smell of chocolate as we opened it up to add coins to the collection.

In our search for the perfect bank, my husband and I opted for the classic pig bank. This particular one had a slight twist on the classic look — a little blingy crown and a pink tutu. My husband kind of wondered about the “ruffly thing” but I assured him a little girl would be impressed with that.  We also wondered about the durability of a ceramic pig.

When our granddaughter opened her present she was pretty impressed.  She touched the little rhinestones in the crown, smoothed the tutu and started lugging that pig everywhere. She also named this pig, “Princess Pig”.

Our fear about the ceramic construction of the bank was soon put to rest. We saw the pig hit the ground  2-3 times and it stayed in one piece. (that was a huge relief!)  My son is convinced it is not your typical ceramic….I think he might be right.

It was also decided by the three year old that Princess Pig needed a little snack. We laughed when we saw she had put a small plastic ear of corn on the plate. Somewhere along the line the genetics of her farmer granddads is pulling through.

It was so much fun to watch her play with that pig. She carried it everywhere she went. It sat by us as we read books. It watched us as we ate supper. The pig even had a small box made into a bed so it would have a place to sleep.

It is a great lesson to learn from a small granddaughter…..something does not have to be big and it does not have to be spendy in order to be enjoyed.  There is joy to be found in the small things. There is a joy to be found in twinkly pink rhinestones and a ruffly tutu on a ceramic pig.  And there is a great sense of joy to be found in watching your grandchildren enjoy those small things.

May your weekend be filled with a child-like sense of joy and wonder.

“See the world through the eyes of your inner child.
The eyes that sparkle in awe and amazement as they see love, magic and mystery in the most ordinary things.”
Henna Sohail

 

DIY Christmas Gift

Peppermint Lotion Bar.JPG

In this very busy season I decided I would just make myself a little busier. I decided to try make lotion bars. I had attempted this project quite a few months back and ended with an epic Pinterest fail. Those lotion bars only stayed hard when they were in the fridge. Once out they just turned into blobs.

I decided I should try to attempt them again and found a different recipe and then tweaked the amounts just a bit so they would hopefully be harder without the refrigeration.

The recipe I ended up with:

Peppermint Lotion Bars
3 ounces Coconut Oil (purchased local grocery store)
3 ounces Shea Butter (
purchased here)
3 ounces Beeswax shredded (
purchased here)
20 drops Peppermint Oil (
purchased here)
glitter (optional)
Put the coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax in a stainless or glass bowl.
Set bowl in pan of water and heat on stove till melted.
When melted, remove from heat and add essential oils.  I chose peppermint.
Pour into silicone molds
Makes approximately 4-6 bars depending on size of molds.
The mold I chose was this one.
I sprinkled a little glitter in the bottom for sparkle.
When lotion bars are solid remove from mold and package.

I had my son and his wife order me some molds from Amazon. (They have prime and that is so handy!) I decided on a snowflake one as it is winter and this had a Christmassy holiday feel. I also chose to put a little glitter in them. I just like the sparkle it gives.

This time the bars turned out. I was so glad. I am hoping to use them as stocking stuffers for the women in my family. (If they are reading this they will just have to act surprised when they get theirs!)  The next project will be how to package them.

If you are looking for a quick easy stocking stuffer for the gals in your group, these are perfect to whip up…..and they contain no chemicals! If you give it a try, let me know how they turn out for you.

At this point my lotion bars look a whole lot better than my kitchen does. My counters are full of stuff used for making the bars and my table is full of other stuff as I am helping with an oils workshop next week.  At some point I will catch up.

I was trying to remember what we had actually been doing this week. I was trying to figure out why I feel like I am so far behind. The fact that the week has faded into a blur shows me that there has probably been too much going on!

Some things could probably have been pushed back till later but others just needed to be done. Projects like removing cupboards from a house that will be torn down. (These will go into my laundry/craft room.) Things like getting organized for the oils workshop. Things like taking time to go to a visitation for my cousin who passed away.( I may have to tell you more about Marcia on another post. She deserves an entire post all to herself.)

This post is slightly disjointed (okay a lot disjointed!) but that has been the last few weeks around this house. At some point life will once again settle down. At some point I will feel caught up and at some point I can be organized……it just won’t be this week!  I guess I can live with that.

“I wanted to figure out why I was so busy,
but I couldn’t find the time to do it.”

Todd Stocker

 

 

 

 

Chasing the Holidays

Jeremiah 31.jpg

I was starting to wonder if I was going to find a time to sit down and write a post for today. The days since the Thanksgiving holiday have been hectic to say the least. I am not totally sure why. Perhaps it is the fact that I said yes to a couple…..too many things?

My brain seems a little disorganized and unsettled.  Anyone else relate to that feeling? I am still not in the “swing” of the Christmas holiday that is fast approaching.  I was too busy enjoying the Thanksgiving one to move on to the next holiday.  I still have fall décor to take down in my home.  Once that is done perhaps I can focus on preparing for Christmas.

I am in awe of those who tell me that they are almost done or are done with their Christmas shopping……I have yet to start!  Fortunately for me, my husband is a man who can take “the list” and help get most of the shopping done in one big day. He approaches shopping with a single-minded vigor.  I am never quite sure how he does that. It might have something to do with the fact that he does not agonize if everything is the perfect gift. He figures it is on the list, so…..good to go. It might also have something to do with the fact that he does not second-guess his decisions!

Maybe if we had a foot of snow on the ground my mind would kick into gear. To be honest, I really don’t want a foot of snow on the ground!  Not yet.  I would like to wait for that to come once my grandkids get here. It is probably good I am not in charge of weather.

Maybe if I attended a couple Christmas programs?  Maybe, just maybe that would help?  Maybe if I would put the decorations up? In all reality I think that perhaps if I would just slow down, take a breath and just be still, that would be the most helpful.

I took a little journey over to the Rabbit Patch this evening and found peace and a beautiful quiet. It hit me then, once my mind had quieted down, that what I needed to appreciate the coming Christmas season wasn’t snow.  I did not need Christmas music. I do not need all the decorations or programs or trees.  I don’t even need to go shopping and fill all those lists.

What I really need to “get” Christmas is some quiet time with Jesus. I realized I have not been spending time during these busy days talking to the One who created me. I have not been enjoying conversations with the one was born that starlit night in Bethlehem.

How I thought I could get into the Christmas spirit, without taking time to acknowledge the one who came to earth that night, is beyond me.  I should have known better. I should have remembered that my days are more ordered and my mind more settled when I have taken the time to “be still and know” who is God.

My wish for all of you this busy holiday season is quiet. Not a huge looming, unsettling quiet, but the kind of quiet that seeps into your soul like water into dry dusty ground. The quiet of a foggy morning that lays thick in the bottom fields and mutes the sound. The kind of quiet that slows our pace, stills our hearts and soothes our minds. A quiet that is peace.

May your week be blessed and quiet.

 

 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now,
and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.”
Matthew 6:34
The Message

 

 

 

 

A Day For Thanks

Thanksgiving Decorations.JPG

There are days that I wish would not end.  Yesterday was one of them. We spent it celebrating Thanksgiving. The day was gray and chilly but it turned out to be a wonderful day spent with loved ones.

The day started fairly early as the rice stuffing needed to get into the 16+ pound turkey and get in the oven. While that was in the oven and sending out a great Thanksgiving aroma, my husband and I set up tables and chairs, put out plates, glasses, napkins, silverware, and of course the candy corn sprinkled on the tables. We did discover that if you do not purchase your candy corn and candy pumpkins by Halloween you have a very tough time finding them in the store for Thanksgiving! (Note to self…..purchase earlier next time around.)

My side of the family came to our home yesterday. The traditional turkey, stuffing, squash, corn, and pumpkin pie was served. We also had a few non-traditional things such as ribs, a pasta salad, cream cheese pie and a Skor cake. (see previous post for some of those recipes.)

For me one of the highlights of the day was our devotion time. All 22 of us stood in our kitchen. It was full of people, it was crowded and it was wonderful. I found the neatest Thanksgiving scripture cards from Kim Marsh-Weed over at Good Enough. Before my husband opened with prayer we had everyone read their card.

We served the food buffet style (that just works the easiest with this crowd) and after everyone had eaten their fill we were sated. Isn’t that a great word? Word prompt chose that one for today.  I love the meaning “to fill, to satisfy, to gorge, to quench….” Pretty much explains a thanksgiving meal. It also explains great relationship. ….spending time together till you are filled, satisfied and quenched.

successful-chicken-capture

 

We spent a lot of our day satisfying our love of being together.  Some of the group just sat and talked. some decided they wanted to shoot some clays. My nephew’s wife decided her goal for the day was to catch and hold one of the girls. She accomplished that goal in a very short time. It is a good thing my girls are so tame!

No matter which group you were in…talking,resting, chicken capture or shooting, there was laughter, lots of chatter and an abundance of good natured teasing.

 

For some reason everyone who wanted to shoot remembered their shells but no one remembered to bring extra boxes of clays. My husband and son went and rummaged around in the basement and found a box of rabbit clays….the kind that you are supposed to have bounce along the ground. They decided to use them like regular clays and throw them.

After making their way out back of the barn they soon discovered that those clays did not react like regular ones. There was some confusion when clay after clay flew into the air, guns were fired and intact clays hit the ground. It didn’t look like anyone was hitting anything.  Comments were made, “There is no way we are this bad!”, “We are better than this!” and “I think I need glasses.”

retrieving-clays

After shooting through the whole box they decided to go and retrieve any unbroken ones. They discovered most of them had chips  but had not broken when they had been hit…..mystery solved….they were better than that!  To be honest I think they were all pretty relieved to find out they were not such bad shots after all! They also thought it was kind of neat they could reuse the clays!

Everyone started to get cold as the day was gray, damp and cool. They decided it was time to head back to the house and find some hot coffee and dessert; as the turkey and stuffing had settled and left room for sweets.

There was such a sweetness to this day spent with family. It came to a close much too quickly. Fortunately the memories will last a lifetime. We spent much of the day, today, rehashing yesterday. It was rather like replaying a movie over and over and it was so much fun to redo it in our minds. Days like this just add to the bond that holds people together….shared fun, shared stories, shared joys and shared heartaches all rolled up with love.

I am going to end this post with part of the devotions that we did yesterday. I read an email that I had received way back in 2010 from a lady in her 90’s. ( I was always amazed that she learned how to work a computer at her age….it gives me great hope for the coming years!)

The e-mail was titled, “I Wish You Enough.”  It was the story of a father and daughter at an airport as the daughter is set to leave. It was probably the last time she would see him on this earth and he wanted to wish her a life filled with just enough good things to sustain her.

The e-mail ended with the sentence, “They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them; but then an entire life to forget them.”

This is my Thanksgiving wish for you all. May you be blessed and I wish you enough…….

I Wish You Enough
I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.
Bob Perks

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Anticipation

Thanksgiving desserts.JPG

I have been spending the last few days anticipating the coming Thanksgiving holiday. This year is a little more work as my husband and I are hosting at our home.

All those things that we have been putting off; are now looking at us and begging to be done. We have finished and installed some baseboard, cleared out cobwebs in places I did not even know there were cobwebs, cleared out those “science experiments” in the back of my fridge (as Bee Organized With Pamela puts it), and just general house cleaning. I have discovered you can only put these things off for so long and then they need to be done.

By the time noon rolled around I had things under control and could start with the baking.  This year I am making the desserts. I made the standard thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie and then I thought I would make a Cream Cheese pie for those who do not care for pumpkin. I also had a request for the Skor Cake that I like to make. (Evidently a chocoholic made that request!)

Here are the recipes.  They are good to make anytime of year. And for those of you who have never eaten or made pumpkin pie, this is your chance to give it a try!

Pumpkin Pie
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 large eggs
2 cups pumpkin home grown or one can pumpkin pie filling
1 – 12 oz. can evaporated milk
I use home grown sugar pumpkins so I put the pumpkin in my blender
with the evaporated milk and eggs.
I then add the rest into the blender and mix.
Pour into unbaked pie crust. (see recipe below)
Makes a 9 inch pie.
Bake at 425º for 15 minutes
Reduce heat to 350º and bake 50 minutes longer.
Pie is done when you insert a knife into it and it comes out clean.

Betty Crocker Pie Crust
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoons shortening or
1/3 cup lard (I use lard)
1cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 – 3 tablespoons cold water
Cut shortening into flour and salt till they are pea sized
Sprinkle water over and toss with fork.
When flour is moistened form into ball.
Roll out and put in pie pan.

 

Cream Cheese Pie
1 – 8 oz. block cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 – 8 oz. cool whip
Whip filling and put in graham cracker crust.
Refrigerate and top with either fresh fruit or pie filling when serving.
If you could find a gluten free crust this pie would be great.
For those who have gluten issues I have also just put the filling into bowls and topped with fruit.

Skor Cake
1 box chocolate cake mix – bake as directed in 2 – 9 inch round pans.
Filling:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
4 Skor candy bars or Heath
Mix: cream, sugar and cocoa then refrigerate for 15 minutes
Beat mixture to stiff peaks.
Fold in 3 crushed Skor bars.
Cut your 2 round cakes to make 4 layers total.
(I find it works great to freeze them before cutting.)
Divide filling into 4 even amounts.
Put filling between each layer, reserving the last 1/4th for the top.
Crush the last candy bar and sprinkle over top.
This cake will get moister if you make it the day ahead.

The food is a big part of our Thanksgiving celebration, but the best part of tomorrow will be the people. Old stories will be told, new stories will be made and woven through it all is the feeling that God is good and this house full of people loves each other no matter what.

Cherish your human connections
– your relationships with friends and family.
Barbara Bush

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_family2.html