Liebster Award Nomination

liebster-blog-award.png

A big thank you to Patricia over at  kindergartenknowledge for nominating me for the Liebster Award. She has the most amazing blog over there and writes on any number of topics. She has become a wonderful friend and I cannot wait to meet her in person some day.

I found out there are some rules to this award so I am going to post them here for those of you who wonder what they are:

*Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award.
*Answer the 11 questions the blogger gives you.
*Give 11 random facts about yourself.
*Nominate 11 blogs.
*Notify those blogs of their nomination.
*Give them 11 questions to answer.

Time to answer my questions:

  1.  Why are you a blogger?
    I had always toyed with the idea of trying this because I always enjoyed writing.  My kids decided for me that is was time to blog. My daughter-in-law set it up for me and I have been blogging and enjoying it ever since. Since blogging I have made so many amazing friends from all over the world.
  2. What is your greatest accomplishment as an adult and why?
    I would have to say being a wife and mom has been and still is my best accomplishment. Loving and honoring my husband, raising my sons to be men who would make great husbands and dads has been rewarding in ways I never imagined. We are all still works in progress but we are progressing!
  3. What was your favorite subject in school? Why?
    I loved Creative Writing and Literary Experience. (Sorry I could not choose one!) It was wonderful to write everyday in class and then going to another class where all I had to do was read books and make reports was absolutely the best!! I love words!
  4. Who was your favorite teacher and why?
    I would have to say Mrs. Hester Vande Garde (5th grade elementary school). She taught us geography by showing slides of her travels around the world. It did put a wanderlust in me that continues to this day. She also had us color maps of every state in the USA. These maps were detailed and had pictures on them of what every region produced and what they were known for. I still have my maps in a three- ring binder. She is a teacher who opened up our eyes to the possibilities of places to go.
  5. If you could travel anywhere in the world…where would you go? What made you make this choice?
    I don’t really care where I go as long as I get to go and can go with people I love and/or really like. I love to see new things and new places. I enjoy going to historical places as I like history. I like museums. It doesn’t have to be spendy for me to enjoy being there. I also love to go visit family and friends. Road trips are some of my favorite things to do with my husband. Getting up before the sun, throwing a couple sandwiches together, and heading down the road is a wonderful thing….the joy really is in the journey!
  6.  Do you enjoy sports? Which ones?
    I am not an athlete whatsoever!!! Unless reading a book is a sport, or gardening or crafting LOL. When my sons were in high school they ran with the cross country team. That was a sport I really loved as it was one sport where there were no negative words. Everyone encouraged all the athletes, no matter what school they were from. I always felt anyone who finished one of those races was a winner if they came across that line first or last.
  7. Do you play any musical instruments? Which ones? Did you take lessons?
    My mom made me take piano lessons for a couple of years. This is not to say that I play piano!  I know the notes but am not proficient at all!  I quit when I was in the Second Thompson book and I clearly remember the song was “The Bee and The Clover”  I hated all those staccato notes!  When I hit 40 I purchased a guitar (that may have been my mid-life crisis!) I started teaching myself but did not pursue it. It would be cool to be able to play “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” .  That guitar is still hanging out in the back of our closet….maybe someday……
  8. If given the opportunity would you travel in space. Why or why not?
    Nah….I don’t think so. There are so many places I want to see on this ball of Earth…I don’t think I have enough time to even see all of the ones on my bucket list!
  9. What is your favorite season? What is that season like where you live?
    That is a hard one because I have favorite parts of all the seasons where I live! I would probably have to say Fall. The hot days of summer are past, the harvest is coming in, the air smells like fallen leaves, dirt and bonfires. In the evening hours you can hear the hum of grain dryers, combines in the fields, and dry leaves rustling on the trees. The colors are beautiful in reds, golds, and yellows. Fall is really quite wonderful!
  10. What advice would you give a teenager about achieving success in life? How do you define success?
    I would advise them to find humor in every day. I would tell them life is too short to stress about things you cannot change. I would want them to know that who you think you are; is more important than who someone else thinks you are. I would encourage them to find a job they love and that fact is more important than the paycheck they will draw. (Being in a job you hate is an awful way to live). I would tell them relationships mean more than material things. I would also tell them to keep their eye on God and the rest will fall into place in His timing. Achieving those things are how I define success.
  11. What is your favorite meal?
    This one is also hard!  I happen to love most food (unfortunately, it loves me also and sticks around on my waist, my thighs…..) I like Chinese, I like Mexican, I also love good old American hamburgers on the grill with a side dish of Taco Salad or Deviled Eggs.

Alrighty…..11 random facts about me. (Nuts, thought I had covered that in those questions!!)

  1. Way back in 1977 I spent a month backpacking around Europe with 5 other gals. This did not decrease the wanderlust in my soul! (See question 5).
  2. If I had gone to college after high school, I would have been a teacher. I think I would have liked teaching junior high. You don’t have to teach them to use a scissors and it would be fun to make them think out of the box.
  3. Driving a tractor in the ditch for baling scares the daylights out of me. I am relieved when I am done with those slanty areas that make me nervous!  I am getting better at it…..slowly.
  4. If I need to get something accomplished I cannot make a visit to the local library. Once I get a book, I want to start reading it immediately. Once I start reading it I usually cannot put it down till I am finished!
  5. I loved reading words so much as a kid that I would read the ingredients on the cereal box, catsup bottle, cake mix box etc!
  6. When I was a child I loved the program “the Flying Nun”. I really wanted to be a nun because I loved the outfit and the fact she could fly!  My mom informed me that we were not Catholic…therefore I could not be a nun. I made the mistake of telling my husband this one time and he has never let me forget it!
  7. I enjoy being outside mowing the lawn or in my garden more than I enjoy being in my house doing housework….unfortunately you can tell that. I really need to find a sign like my mom had in her porch, “If you come to see me….come anytime. If you come to see my house….make and appointment.”
  8. I would love to be able to paint beautiful pictures.
  9. I do enjoy crafting of any kind…..card making, crocheting, knitting, scrapbooking, sewing……
  10. I enjoy cooking…this is one good reason to stay in the house! It is also a great thing to do in the wintertime as it warms your kitchen up and makes the house smell wonderful!
  11. My family is my pride and joy. I love having them all around as much as I can! I love the fact they enjoy being together. It does scare the willies out of me when my three sons do their annual mountain climbing thing in Colorado’s 14’ers. My heart’s desire is for them all to know Jesus and live their lives in a way that shows that fact.

I am now to the part I need to nominate 11 blogs. There are so many out there that I so enjoy. I know some of them are award free so I will try leave them alone! (If I did nominate you and you are award free…I apologize!) If I do nominate you and you have already done this award or do not want to do awards I totally get that…so not too worry. This nomination is meant to be fun and not stress you out. Only do it if you really want to. I will not be offended…I promise!

I nominate:

atimetoshare.me

Leadership2Mommyship

Al

samanthamurdochblog

whitneyibeblog

Ame

susieshy45

George

Anne Mehrling

Tales From the Cabbage Patch

And now (drum roll) …….My questions for my nominees…

  1. What is the top item on your bucket list? Why?
  2. What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
  3. What makes you cry?
  4. What makes you laugh….hard?
  5. Who had the biggest impact on you in your life so far? Why?
  6. Most embarrassing moment?
  7. What is a hidden talent that others would be surprised to know you have?
  8. What advice do you wish you had listened to when you were a teenager?
  9. What would make the perfect day for you?
  10. What is your favorite song and why?
  11. Do you have a favorite quote and if so …what is it?

Once again….thank you so much Pat for the nomination! I encourage everyone to head over to her blog and stay for a visit…you will not regret it!

“Don’t do something for recognition.
Do it out of kindness ..because out of giving,
it will make you whole and complete.”

Angie karan

“Never pass on an opportunity to say thank you
or give recognition for a job well done”

Mark W. Boyer

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing For Gathering

Cupcakes

Triple Chocolate Fudge & White Almond Raspberry Filled Cupcakes

Today was one of those days that seemed to be busy with a hodgepodge of “stuff”.  I spent time preparing for a bride/groom wedding shower that, as an aunt, I am helping host. This means, we are in charge of lunch, games and whatever else needs doing.

These showers started out being for couples on my husbands side of the family; due to being a small group. I am not sure how the guys feel about being included, but I think it adds a lot of fun to see the guys’ perspective on things.

One of the things I had to make was cupcakes. As of today, I can check them off my list of to-dos. They are some “canoey” work….but they are fun to decorate. We have some who cannot have gluten so I also made some of those. (It is really helpful to have a little  help from Betty Crocker for that!) I bought a yellow gluten free cake mix and turned them into lemon cupcakes with a recipe I found on Pinterest. (Lemon Cupcakes)

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I also got to prepare for my kids to come home, for a time, this weekend. The oldest son and his family will be spending a night here! I cannot wait to see them. It was time to sweep, dust, vacuum, and change bedding upstairs in anticipation of the weekend.

On Sunday the kids will all be here for Sunday dinner. We will celebrate Mother’s Day and we are also going to have a “grand reveal”  to find out what our newest grandchild will be. We will find out if we should purchase pink or blue items for this newest addition to the bunch.

I am not sure what my youngest son and his wife have planned for this big reveal….all I know is my son said they needed “lots of room”. Knowing how they love target  and clay pigeon shooting, I would not be surprised if it somehow involved shooting! I guess I will have to be patient and wait to find out.

Some of my preparations involved washing towels (you have to have clean towels when the kids come home) and hanging them outside to dry. After I got them hung on the clotheslines I wandered over to the garden.  Easter weekend my husband and I were able to get our potatoes planted. When I checked them today I was pretty excited to see they were starting to come up. Some places I could even see rows!

Potato Plant

Yukon Gold Potatoes

 

Now the busy work starts…..weeding, hoeing, watering and mulching those potatoes. I mowed the lawn today, but didn’t have time to bag the grass to be used for mulching…..maybe next time! Maybe next week will be a little slower pace….maybe. About the time I think that life will slow down; something else pops up and keeps us running.

It is a fun kind of busy….these last few days. It is a busy that is filled with anticipation of seeing family and getting together. It is the knowing that our time together will be too short; but it will be so full of laughter, stories and love. It will be a time of new memories being made and the re-telling old ones.

I hope you all have a wonderful Mother’s Day this weekend. May you be surrounded by your family. If they cannot come home make sure to give them a call and let them know you care! May you have time to make great new memories.

If you don’t have children….be the “cool” uncle, aunt or neighbor that all the kids want to hang out with. You have no idea what you mean to those kids! Everyone has a need to belong and know that someone cares about them.

May you be blessed this weekend and may you be a blessing to those around you.

 

“Our family is a circle of strength;
founded on faith,
joined in love,
kept by God,
together
forever.”
-Unknown

Cherish your human connections:
your relationships with friends and family.
Joseph Brodsky

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/josephbrod119970.html?src=t_friends_and_family

Card Making and Sister Time

Card Making

I had a great day spending time with my little sister making cards today. In the weeks before surgery we picked this date as a good day to get my mind off recuperating and onto something fun.

She came before noon with dinner in hand…..chicken, broasted potatoes, and cactus bread from our local Pizza Ranch. That was a great way to start and was delicious!  Once eating was out of the way we got down to figuring out what cards we wanted to make.

She got her “stuff” out of her vehicle and then we scavenged through my craft cupboards. We also looked through Pinterest to find ones we thought we could make with what we had. The picture above shows the ones we decided on and ones we put our twist on.

We decided early on that perfection was not the goal.  This was a good decision as our cards ended up not always so perfect. The stamps and ink we used were mainly ones from Stampin Up. Our cardstock and paper came from anywhere we could get them. (Michaels, Ben Franklin and/or Hobby Lobby).

We spent a lot of time today making cards; but what was so much fun was the time spent visiting about anything and everything. We rehashed past surgeries, family history, good jokes we had heard, recipes we have tried and so many other topics. It was a good day spent laughing and connecting.

The time spent turned an ordinary day into something more. It turned it into a time of family and the memories that family carries. We have already made plans to do this again….only next time we are inviting the other sisters and friends. I have one sister who tells us that, “crafts make her sweat.” She will also be invited and we will try to make it as sweat free as possible!

The thing to remember is not what the cards end up looking like ……but how much fun it was gathering to make them. So much of life is like that….it is not what you accomplish but how and who, you accomplish it with.

What do you like to do with your sisters? What makes for a great time spent with your family?

May your weekend be filled with family, friends and fun. May you make memories that will last a lifetime and be the kind you can’t wait to revisit when you gather.

“The only ones who truly know your story are the ones who helped you write it.”
Unknown

 

Not All That Glitters…..

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It may be true that “Not all that glitters is gold.” I think the reverse is also true….Not all gold is something that glitters. I have no idea if that makes any sense whatsoever…..it just sounded kind of profound.

I have many things in life that are really pure gold….family and friends being at the top of the list. My daughter-in-law posted the picture of the two grandkids on Facebook the other day. It just made my day to see those two little ones.

They are the real gold in my life. Those two bring such a joy to life. Everything they do is done with everything they have. They really know how to live life to the full and they sparkle from the inside out.

I did have to do some questioning about the Kaboom game after seeing the photo. I first thought they were knocking down the blocks with marshmallows. Turns out those are white painted blocks…..which is a good thing; as I am not sure about the shelf life of a game that would use marshmallows as game pieces.

I digress (which I often do). I also have some amazing friends. One of them truly does glitter! We have often called her the glitter queen. Wherever she goes she has a sparkle about her….literally. I should explain. She is a craft wizard and loves….(did I say loves?) to use glitter. There are times her husband even sparkles. (I am not so sure how impressed he is with the thought of sparkling.)

There is a down side to glitter. Once it gets loose in your home it attaches itself to everything. My daughter-in-law once gave me a Christmas present wrapped in beautiful paper that had glittery snowflakes on it. It did not take long and everything and everyone had a slight sparkle to and on them….maybe more than a slight sparkle. It was actually quite wonderful in a Christmas sparkly kind of way.

My daughter-in-law started to snicker and informed me that the clerk who had sold her the paper explained to her about glitter.  According to him, and I quote, “Glitter is the herpes of the craft world…….once you have it…..you can never get rid of it.” That is a quote that has firmly planted itself in my brain. It comes to mind every time I see a tube of glitter, a card with glitter or anything sparkly and glitter related. That quote is somewhat like glitter….I don’t think I will ever be able to erase it!

I am so glad that there is so much more to my family and friends than just temporary , external sparkle. They are “Real” and their beauty and worth comes from who they are inside and not what they look like outside. They are beautiful, wonderful people….inside and out.

I pray that you have a friend or family member who sparkles and shines from the inside. I pray this friend or family member spreads a little “internal glitter” over your life and brings you joy. I also pray that you, in turn, spread a little glitter over those around you.

 

“Consider the fact that maybe…just maybe…
beauty and worth aren’t found in a makeup bottle,
or a salon-fresh hairstyle, or a fabulous outfit.
Maybe our sparkle comes from somewhere deeper inside,
somewhere so pure and authentic and REAL,
it doesn’t need gloss or polish or glitter to shine.”

Mandy Hale, T
he Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

 

 

 

 

Christmas Reflections

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Sometimes it is a blessing in disguise when the winds are gusting cold and brisk at 45 miles per hour.  It forces us to just relax, retreat into the house and reflect on the highlights of the day before.  Monday was such a day.

My husband and I were given the opportunity to sit and reflect on the highlights of Christmas day. Just sitting here now, thinking about it, brings a smile to my lips. I can close my eyes and replay certain scenes in my head and enjoy them all over again.

The day started early with getting the turkey in the oven and the woodstove fired up for the day.  Once that was accomplished my husband and I sat in the dark living room waiting for the rest of the household to wake up.

The two grandkids were first, of course, and came sleepily into the living room, dragging blankets and stuffed animals behind them. They snuggled in close. It is a wonderful thing to sit in a semi-dark living room with a lap full of grandkids, and the warm glow of a woodstove and the lights of a Christmas tree for company.

It did not take long and we were joined by their parents. After that the busy day began.  We did take time to enjoy a hot chocolate party before the rest of the family arrived. (The hot chocolate party was an effective Grandma bribe to get them into bed the night before.)

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Once everyone else had arrived, hugs exchanged, and Christmas greetings given, it was decided to open gifts before we had dinner.  No one was really too hungry anyway, after spending the morning snacking on Christmas cookies, cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate.

Opening gifts is always a bit of a challenge due to the gift labeling system we use in our home.  It has become a tradition that instead of names on the labels on our gifts, we have random stamped images. This started years ago when our sons were small and could not (or would not) leave their gifts alone.

With this system I have my notebook in hand, with corresponding stamped images and names so that everyone gets the correct gift.  Once my sons got older, got married and moved into homes of their own; I thought I would be able to start putting the names on the gifts….not so.  They voted to stay with tradition and the stamped images of leaves, penguins, trees, etc. continues.

Gifts were opened, dinner was enjoyed, rousing games of foosball were played. Naps were taken (not by small children), lego sets were built, cookies were consumed (in mass quantities by small children), books were read, and the day was liberally sprinkled with laughter, good-natured ribbing, and an amazing dose of love that was so tangible that you felt you could reach out and touch it.

 

The only thing that would have made the day any better would have been to have my other daughter-in-law here. She was back home with the stomach flu.

The day was a blessing and was bathed in that love that comes from shared joys, shared sorrows, and shared lives.  it was the joy that comes from being with those you love and that love you back no matter what.

It was the sense of family that is rooted in a deeper truth that there is One who loves us even more than we could possibly love each other.  The love of the One who came to earth so long ago in human form as a baby and gave His life so we might have life eternal.

May the joy of this season remain with you longer than this season is celebrated. May you be blessed by the One who loves you so much.

I am going to leave you with a less than serious ending to this post.  It just seemed fitting that as the Chicken Grandma, I should somehow involve the “girls”(or at least their cartoon counterparts) in this Christmas post.

And may you even be blessed by the silliness of chickens clucking Christmas songs! They may not deserve a standing ovation but they are pretty fun!

Time was with most of us, when Christmas Day, encircling all our limited world like a magic ring, left nothing out for us to miss or seek;
bound together all our home enjoyments, affections, and hopes;
grouped everything and everyone round the Christ

Charles Dickens quotes 

Read more: http://www.searchquotes.com/quotes/about/Family_Christmas/2/#ixzz4U4lj9wzH

 

 

 

Anticipation of the Season

top-hats

Only a few more days till Christmas and I have one more cookie recipe to share with you before the day is actually here. This is one is that my youngest two sons wait for with great anticipation as it is their all time favorite. In fact, the youngest told me just the other day; that he did not care what other varieties of cookies there were…..as long as there were plenty of Top Hats.

His enthusiasm for these cookies is contagious.  When I told him I was in the process of making them I could almost hear his smile through the phone line in that one word he uttered, “Yessss.”

It is always fun to find out what things are important to my children and husband on the holidays. Certain foods and certain traditions all speak different languages of love to each of them.  With daughter-in-laws and grandchildren added to the mix; it just makes it all the more fun.

Anticipation of the season for me is about so much more than all the preparation, baking, list making, shopping and so on. For me it is wrapped up in family and the love I see in their eyes for each other. The joy they have when they get together is a blessing to the heart and soul of this mom.

The anticipation of the laughter, the memories, the stories, the good-natured joking has taken hold and added a glow that rivals the brightly colored lights on the Christmas tree in the corner. My mindset is ready for the day to arrive….my preparations are not…..but they soon will be completed and if they are not; it really does not matter.

I finished the last of the cookies yesterday and tomorrow is house-cleaning time. If I figure it right I will be all set to go by the time the kids arrive this weekend.

I am not sure where I got this recipe; as I have been making these for more years than I care to count. These cookies take a little “canooey” work as my Grandma used to say. I will tell you; if you do make them….they are definitely worth the effort.

Top Hats
Cookies:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
Filling:
6 ounces cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup nutmeats (optional)
1 cup flake coconut
Frosting:
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons water
Melt and beat in 1/2 cup powdered sugar.

Mix cookie dough and shape into 1 inch balls.
Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes at 325º – 350º
Remove from oven and thumbprint.
Mix filling and put on top of cookie.
Top with chocolate frosting.
NOTE: I choose not to add the optional nutmeats to the filling as my family does not care for them.

I will be counting the days till my family gathers. (I will also be guarding the cookies till they all get here!) I will be soaking up the joy that is this season and anticipating the contentment that is family.  May you be blessed in your preparations for this season of joy.

Christmas…that magic blanket that wraps itself about us,
that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance.
It may weave a spell of nostalgia.
Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer,
but always it will be a day of remembrance
…a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.

Augusta E Rundell quotes 

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

Thanksgiving Blessings

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My husband and I are working on getting ready to host my family for Thanksgiving on the farm. We have been sorting, cleaning and even getting some more woodwork put on in the hallway.

It is good to have people come over some times. I find that some deep cleaning gets done, sorting and tossing of stuff happens,  and the house gets organized once again. I should probably have company come more often!

I love the thought of having my parents, my kids, the grandkids, siblings and their families all come to our home. To be honest I love it anytime family gets together. I may have inherited that from my dad who is always looking for a reason to gather.

I remember as a kid going to my Aunt Jean’s house. Her home was not that big and there were a bunch of us….a big bunch. The kitchen smelled amazing and by the time we were all seated , no one was able to move from their seats, other than the aunts who served the food. (We were all warned in advance to use the bathroom as it would not be available during the meal.)

It did not matter if the house was small. It did not matter if the windows were drafty or the carpets were worn. It did not matter if the flowered wallpaper was peeling or the woodwork was scuffed.  What mattered was the fact that we were all together and that was the blessing.

The noise level must have been unreal and I am sure there were stressors for the adults. Would the turkey get done?  Would the pie crust be flakey? Would there be a snowstorm? I don’t know if the women worried if there house was good enough or not. As children we were not aware of those things and were just happy to be with cousins.

I hope the memories made during this holiday season will stick for years in the minds of my children, grandchildren and my nieces and nephews.  I hope when they look back it is with a warm satisfaction. My hope is that down the road they want the same type of gathering when they have children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

There is an excitement in the preparations for those holiday memories. There is the making of lists and the remaking of lists. Just when you think you have your to do list all made out; you think of something else.

I thought I had all my groceries purchased last week…..not so. I am in charge of pies/desserts and had forgotten to purchase the lard (and other items) for the pie crust. I am probably pretty old school with my pie crust; but Betty Crocker taught me this way and I am a creature of habit.

The plan is to have a couple pumpkin pies, a cream cheese pie and one layered chocolate cake that involves the use of heavy whipping cream and Skor candy bars. Baking day is Wednesday so I will get those recipes to you then…..complete with photos! I cannot wait for the aromatic smell of spices in baking pies to fill my kitchen.

Today I am going to share the stuffing recipe that is a family tradition in our home. It is one that my husband was raised on and I had to learn to make when I married into his family. It is one that I have now passed on to my kids.  It has the added bonus of being gluten free!

Holiday Rice Stuffing
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1/2 Cup onion, chopped
1/2 Cup dried parsley flakes

1 Cup grated carrots
1 Cup uncooked rice
3 Cups chicken broth
1/2 Teaspoons salt
Dash Pepper
Cook first four ingredients for 10 minutes.
Add the rest and stir thoroughly.
Cook on low 20 minutes.
Do not put in chicken or turkey until ready to put the bird in the oven.
NOTE: I do make this recipe the day before and store it in the fridge in a bowl.
In the morning I stuff the bird and put in the oven.
I also double or triple this depending on size of bird.

I usually make plenty of this stuffing as my family loves leftovers. I also save the turkey carcass and put in my pressure cooker with celery, carrots and onion. I then strain that and freeze to use in place of the chicken broth the next time I make stuffing or Chicken soup.

I would love to hear about some of your family traditions for Thanksgiving. My hope for all of you during this Thanksgiving week is that your preparations run smoothly, your stress level stays low and that your eyes are opened to the blessings around you.

“Home is people. Not a place.
If you go back there after the people are gone,
then all you can see is what is not there any more.”
Robin Hobb, Fool’s Fate

“So much of what is best in us is bound up in our love of family, that it remains the measure of our stability because it measures our sense of loyalty.”
Haniel Long

 

Friendships and Tea Sets

Well-Loved Tea Set.JPG

For some reason tonight I am struggling to organize my thoughts.  I keep rearranging them and sorting them out in my mind while I try to get them typed into this post. Perhaps it is because the day was full.  It was full of laughter, joy, sharing and love. The day has left so may thoughts swirling through my brain that it is difficult to know where to start and where to end.

It was a great day spent with two close friends. I have known who these two women are; for probably 16 years.  It is only the last few years that I have really come to know these two women. We met at a Christian retreat and have met at that same retreat for many years.

When you have shared life stories, shared tears and shared laughter you realize what a gift friendship and relationship can be. These women have seen the best of me and I am pretty sure they have seen the worst of me…..and yet they call me friend!  It is almost as if God has gifted me with two extra sisters….you know…..where they have to love you no matter what????

We spent the day in a couple small towns in our area today. As friends, we share a love for small little shops that are full of repurposed things made from windows, doors, ice-skates etc. We love to find the odd and the unusual in everything from home decorating items to clothing. I am thinking we  might also love to BE the odd and unusual! (Trying on “blingy” headbands and taking selfies is always a good time!) I have no doubt there are some stories being told about “three crazy women that came into the store today……”

We have learned over time that when we plan a day out we struggle to make up our minds as to what we want to do or where we want to go. (That might be a woman thing……but who really knows?)   After the first time we made plans to have a “friend day” we have also learned that we need to make very “loose” plans and be ready to rearrange as necessary.

That first time we got together, we never did get out of the small town that was the prearranged meeting place. (It probably did not help that we met at a little coffee/tea shop and spent a couple hours just catching up!) Our husbands were stunned and their eyes kind of glazed over when we came home and told them we never made it to the city with the big stores, malls etc. and that we had spent the entire day poking through the little shops and second hand store that this small town offered. I know my husband spent the night just kind of looking at me and shaking his head.  Every so often he would mumble something and give me an odd look.

These two women are the kind of friends who are great to go shopping with.  They will give you an honest answer when you ask the dreaded question, “What do you think of these jeans on me?” We then ponder on the fact that men never ask that question. Do they not care what jeans look like on them? Those are also the type of question we discuss when we are together….we have come up with lots of answers to these types of questions; but I am thinking they might not be the right ones.

These two are also the kind of friends you can be intensely serious with and intensely silly with…..sometimes in the same conversation.  They are the kind of friends where you laugh till you cannot breathe and sometimes you laugh so hard you snort.

They are the kind that help you find a well-loved, well-used, well-worn tea set for an almost 3 year old granddaughter….because they know your granddaughter loves tea parties. I love the thought that when I am invited to a tea party with my granddaughter these two friends will come to mind because of that tea set.

The older I get the more I value relationships with those around me.  Not just the surface kind…but the kind where people are “real”. The masks are off and you know that what you see is really what you get. It is a rare gift.  It is a blessing. It is something to be valued.

May you be blessed with friends who are a blessing to you as much as you are a blessing to them.

I thank my God every time I remember you.
Philippians 1:3
NIV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trees I Have Known

Black Hills, SD

The Black Hills, SD

I noticed that today the Daily Post had the word trees for their word prompt. This was a word prompt I thought I could actually write about.  I am not sure what it is about trees that is so fascinating but I really like…..no, I love trees.

I have discovered that through the years I have taken a lot of pictures of trees. Pictures of trees that are healthy and growing, pictures of trees that are in full leaf, pictures of trees that are majestic in all their twisted glory, pictures of trees as they aged, and pictures of trees from many angles.

Kansas Tree.JPG

I am wondering if my love of trees started as a kid. I loved reading books and sitting up in the branches of a tree seemed the perfect place to read a book……actually anywhere is probably the perfect place to read a book, but I digress.

My folks had two beautiful sugar maples in their front yard that had branches that were great for climbing. My siblings and I spent a lot of time sitting among the leaves. It did not seem too many years later and our kids were climbing those same trees. I am wondering how long before my grandkids decide to climb the one sugar maple that still stands in  my parent’s front yard.

My sons like to remember the tree house they built as kids. They positioned it between the round metal corn crib and a huge old elm tree that grew behind the grove; that made up our back yard. They scrounged around for nails, boards and anything else they could find for construction purposes. It got to the point that my husband painted his own tools yellow and another set red. The boys were allowed to only have the red tools…..if they were caught with yellow ones there was some trouble. The red tools consisted of hammers with broken off handles that my husband had repaired. They were kid sized with about 5 inch handles.

By the time we ventured out back to go check on the progress of this tree house (on the advice of their grandparents) it consisted of multiple platforms. To reach these platforms they had nailed 1″ x 4″ boards with many…..many short shingle nails. At most there was probably 1/2″ of nail that was biting into the bark to hold the board on the tree.  I think their theory might have been; if they had to use short nails……just use more. Theirs was definitely a quantity over quality mentality.  When a board fell off it kind of resembled a porcupine with all those nails sticking out.

After seeing that their top platform had reached the top of the corncrib it was strongly suggested (ordered) that they remove the top platform. I can still remember them mumbling under their breath that they should not have shown the grandparents their tree house. Unfortunately, I never took any pictures of this wondrous tree house. I have a feeling that was in the time frame that we did not have a working camera.

Many of my favorite pictures of trees are ones I have taken while on vacation. The trees at Gooseberry Falls State Park in Minnesota are beautiful due to time and weather twisting them into works of natural art.

There is a beauty in the twisted trunks, the exposed, sun-bleached roots and the tenacity in which these trees cling to life. How they manage to survive growing on what looks like rock is beyond me. They have survived generations of tourists who come to marvel at the landscape and will probably stand for many more.

Trees are a testament to life and a witness to us that if we hang on tight, are firmly rooted and don’t mind being a little twisted we will get through this life. We maybe won’t be in the same shape as when we started….in fact I am very sure we will not stay the same. I am, however, convinced that if we hang on and persevere, we too, will be a testament and witness to those around us and to those who come after.

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”
Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tree/