Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Spark

" It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up to its glowing. That's how it is with God's love once you experience it, you spread His love to everyone. You want to pass it on! " Kurt Kaise

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Garage Transformation

My extended family is coming for dinner. How do we accomodate 35 people? We clear the cars out of the garage. We scrub the floor, and clean the windows.
We add tables and chairs, string lights from the ceiling, run the portable heater the day of, and plugged in the mini crockpot of spices, to replace the smell of a garage with the smell of cinnamon and oranges.

Yes, we use all paper and plastic ware, and green candles from last Christmas. We play Christmas music to add to the festivity.

Because we were hosting this dinner, I did not have time to take pictures of the main course. The pictures above, are the desserts that my mother provided. Her vanilla pudding pies are a standard at this meal each year. Her warm baked apple crisp and vanilla ice cream are an added feature, and I cannot describe to you how good it tasted. Some of my neices and nephews helping themselves to desserts. Because of Thanksgiving break, many of them were home for the holiday, and able to join us for the evening.

My soon-to-be-married neice and my precious granddaughter(without her usual smile).
Pictured here are the youngest cousins. It seems like only yesterday, they were toddlers. Cousins and special. Who would have thought, that an evening in the garage could be so much fun.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Ending Of A Memorable Day

We had a wonderful, relaxing day with my husband's family yesterday. We sat around their kitchen table, in their cozy, old stone farmhouse, until early evening. As we headed home, the setting sun created beauty everywhere we looked. My dear husband actually pulled off of the road, so that I could take this farmland scenery picture for you.

Further down the road, I snapped this picture out of the front windshield of our car. A familiar sight in our county, but I never tire of the photo ops it gives me,(as long as I do not capture their faces, which is not allowed in their religion).
What a perfect way to end our day, with countless reasons to be so very grateful to the One who provided it, for us to enjoy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

"The morning's here, another day. The sun is shining through, I left my worries all behind: Today I start anew." Mildred H. Bell

"Sassafras, dogwoods, poplars, redbud-all were torched by autumn's brazen fire, displaying their colorful tapestry along every ridge and hogback, in every cove and gorge." Jan Karon

"Hope" is the thing with feathers, That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops-at all." Emily Dickinson 1830-1886
"How precious little deeds of love and sympathy are; how strong to bless, how easy to perform, how comfortable to recall." Louisa May Alcott

"Take the blue of the sky and the green of the forest, the gold and the brown of the freshly mown hay, add the pale shades of spring and the circus of autumn, and weave you a lovely today." Gloria Gaither Life has it's seasons, and winter is about to appear. Just like in life, there is a time and season for everything. "The way that leads to winter, will lead to summer too, for all roads end in other roads, where we may start anew." Arthur St. John Adcock

"You shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given you." Duet. 26:11. The photos that you have been viewing, were skillfully captured by my dear Uncle. Autumn is a celebration of nature and I appreciate his artistic ability to bring it to life. To each of you, my blogger friends, that are visiting this blog today, I want to wish you a very special Thanksgiving Day. Judy

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


My dear, sweet neice gave birth to twin girls yesterday afternoon. What a perfect way to celebrate the week of Thanksgiving. My heart is overflowing with gratitude for these precious miracles. Congratulations!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Cupcake Stand and A Buffet Server

I am starting to do some Christmas decorating in my kitchen and eating area. I have one corner near the refrigerator, that tends to be a dark corner. I took my cupcake stand out of the closet, added a garland of faux evergreens, a small strand of tiny clear lights, and then put the colored Christmas ornaments in each cupcake holder.
It certainly brightens up the corner, as I hoped that it would. The one that I decorated is a bit smaller than the first one pictured, although either one would work.

I found this buffet server at Walmart for $ 5.00. I added some faux evergreens, some tiny clear lights, and two old plates that I had in my china cupboard. Another way to light up a darkened area for the holidays. I think this would be a nice gift for someone, especially someone who enjoys entertaining.

The pastries were brought home this afternoon by my daughter. They had baked them this morning. Almond flavoring and sliced almonds made it difficult to put them back in the refrigerator. Tomorrow morning they go to work with my husband. If you are thinking about decorating for the holidays, you might want to look around your kitchen. Clear lights can dress up many things.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Remembering Last Year's Thanksgiving Celebration

We will miss celebrating Thanksgiving with you. We have fond memories of our early Thanksgiving meal with you and your husband last year, in your adorable apartment in Texas.
Our meal last year was not quite the traditional Thanksgiving meal, but every bit as delicious. The chicken, potatoes, and carrots were seasoned perfectly, and tender enough to cut with a fork. What a labor of love, your sister did for us, along with taking care of two babies.

Your table looked so festive, and the memories of all of us sitting around it, are still fresh in my mind. Many miles will separate us this year, but both of you will remain in our hearts and prayers as we go through the day.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Quick, Easy Dessert

If you tend to procrastinate somewhat, like me, you may find yourself remembering that you need to take a dessert to a covered-dish type dinner, and you are left with a limited amount of time. I have been in this situation, and quite honestly,at times my mind goes blank. What to make, at this late hour? I want to share a dessert that I recently took to a dinner. I used my trusty old iron pan. Mixed up the chocolate chip cookie mix and put it into the greased bottom of my iron pan. I put the pan in the oven and followed the baking instructions on the bag. I did put the shelf in the middle of the oven and found it better to under bake than over bake the dough.

After removing from the oven, I let it cool. When cooled, I added vanilla ice cream scoops, added some vanilla ice cream "Dibs"(because I had them on hand),and chocolate syrup.

To complete my last minute dessert, I added "Cool Whip", and colored sprinkles. The dessert can be stored in the freezer until ready to serve. Remove 10 minutes before serving. It was a hit with the guests, so I will make it again sometime.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

In The Mood For "Baked Oatmeal"

I was surprised by the beautiful snow that had fallen overnight. Every branch and twig was covered with a blanket of snow, and it is still snowing. When it snows, I love to make one of our favorite breakfast foods, "baked oatmeal". The tattered and stained recipe book, where I found this recipe(and many others that I use) is the "Weavertown School Family Cooking" book. I have adjusted this recipe to my tastes, and have made it many times over the years. Each of my daughters have taken with them to their homes and continue baking it. Funny thing...the leftovers disappear so quickly in this house. So for us as a family, this is our very favorite" baked oatmeal "recipe;In the microwave, melt 1 stick of butter in a large bowl. Add 1 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 3 cups oatmeal(not instant), 2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 cup milk. Stir until blended. Put in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan or baking dish, sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes(or until slightly firm to touch and a golden brown). I always serve it warm, with a pitcher of milk, and small bowls of chopped walnuts, craisins, or raisins, or chopped apples(whatever I have on hand at the time). An idea for a hostess gift, is to buy a new baking dish, whip up this recipe, bake it and give it. Warming it the next morning, is all that needs to be done. Instant homemade breakfast...a great gift!
This is another gift idea. Mix together all of the dry ingredients of this recipe, and put in a clear cellophane bag. Write or type out the recipe, roll up and tie with a bow. Add a small bag of raisins and a small bag of chopped walnuts, a small glass pitcher(for the milk), two packs of coffee, and a small coffee gift book with interesting stories. Breakfast in a baking dish, add a Christmas(or whatever type)greeting. At this point, I cover with clear cellophane and tie a bow around it. A pretty, practical and delicious gift for whatever occasion.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Our" Five Senses"...What Treasured Gifts.

" Taste, See, Hear, Smell, and Touch"...five senses we were given at birth. Five gifts I often take for granted in life's daily journey. This week, I have been reflecting on what an amazing privilege these gifts provide. Without them, the pictures posted today, would not be near as exciting. With them, I am still smiling. Another mouth watering," fruit tart"...

...and this "raspberry-hazelnut torte". Our daughter is becoming a pastry artist, creating desserts like I've never done. The "sight, smell and taste "kicked in immediately, as she walked through the door. As I am entering this posting, I have to think of two ladies in my life, who lost the sense of "taste", and how painful that was for them. So many aspects of life, I find myself taking for granted.
True artistry, created by The Master Artist , and captured from our back porch, one morning recently. How grateful I am for the gift of "sight", this Thursday morning. This also causes me to think about a dear lady I heard about, who has lost her sense of "sight", and how desperately she misses it. Today, may I be reminded of the value of the five precious gifts that I was given, to help add more interest and fascination, to my journey of life.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Easy Cookies and Ideas For Wrapping

I wanted to share this interesting cookie recipe with all of you. It is so easy, so good and a way to let your creativity play a role in baking. I am sorry that this recipe did not photograph very well, but hopefully it is clear enough to read the few ingredients and directions needed. The first time I made these cookies, I remember thinking that they had forgotten some of the ingredients. After baking them, I realized that each step was there. The sage advice on the side of the page,( that is referred to), says, "the hardest part of this recipe is trying to decide what flavor cake mix to use-Lemon Supreme, Chocolate, White, or another one of your favorites." I also added mini peanut butter morsels to the chocolate cake mix that I used. I did want to mention, that I did not roll the dough into balls. Instead I just used a small (Pam sprayed) ice cream scoop and put scoops of dough on the cookie sheet and sprinkled each scoop with powdered sugar, before baking.
I found some fun, festive containers at the"Dollar General", that I will be using for small Christmas gifts. Actually, I found beautiful ribbon choices, a clear box of colored bells, and some colorful tissue paper...all at this store. The green and red disposable boxes came in sets of four. I am going to bake some of the cookies ahead of time, put them in the containers and freeze them. For me, working ahead is best, if at all possible.
Here are a few ideas, using ordinary brown paper bags, or colored plastic boxes from the dollar store, adding color and festivity to giving at Christmas. I buy supplies like this early in the season, and keep in a plastic box, to use as needed. I enjoy sharing at the holidays, especially reaching out to those who least expect it. The brown paper bags I use year round. With the top folded down, two holes punched in each side, a ribbon pulled through and tied, it can become a wrap for anything baked or not.
Before tying the bow, I added the bell and some boxwood from my garden. You can also slip a candy cane horizontally through the top two holes, or a silk flower in the summer. If you use it for your child to give to their teacher, you can slip a new pencil horizontally through the holes, tie a tag with your sentiments, hanging down from the pencil. All kinds of ways to dress up a package, to go along with all kinds of flavors to use for the cookies. Let your creativity go to work.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One Of Our "Favorite" Salad Dressings

A few years ago, we sat at the dinner table of our dear friends, and were served salads with homemade dressing. Needless to say, we were hooked. Our friend kindly shared her delicious, simple recipe with us. I now have the recipe memorized. Here are the ingredients that I put into my mini food processor, although a blender will also work; 1/2 small onion, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 3 tsp. worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp. salt. Blend thoroughly.

Pour into a quart jar and add 1 cup of canola, or vegtable oil. Shake unto thoroughly blended.
Can be served in a container of your choice. This dressing keeps well in the refrigerator, although we eat many salads, so it does not last long around here. This is a fun gift to make for friends, especially when given in a decorative bottle. Just in case you want to know, our favorite dinner salad is; baby greens, baby spinach, grilled chicken tenders, shredded cheese, feta cheese, sliced hard boiled egg, chopped tomatoes, honey roasted sliced almonds, craisins or raisins, and this dressing lightly mixed in.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mirrors And Candles For The Holidays

This past weekend I put away my ghord pumpkin and corn candy votives, which left me with an empty kitchen island counter. I know that I may be rushing the seasons, but I look at it, as one more thing to check off my list of things to do. I decided to use my same mirrored tray, and used some of the crystal candle holders that I have collected over the years. I use these for many different occasions. The long burning taper candles I had purchased after Christmas last year, at a "Tuesday Morning" store. I added some green Christmas balls tied on with ribbon. I will only light the candles on special occasions, although I know these candles are slow burning.I like the look of crystal and mirrors. It adds sparkle to my kitchen island, and the mirror reflects the lights of the chandelier.

This is another old mirror that was propped up on my living room shelf. I used some small glass goblets that I found this summer, at an outdoor flea market. I added some gold votives from last Christmas and sprinkled some clear crystals, from Michael's Craft Store, on the mirror. It will make a nice centerpiece for my dining room table. Once again, a simple yet elegant concept.

This mirrored centerpiece was created for a friend with a more contempory taste. It is a round mirror purchased from the "Dollar Tree". I used "Goop" to glue the mirror unto a crystal candle holder, to give it some height. I used glass votive holders and added color with some multi colored baubles. Easy, inexpensive and a fun way to dress up a counter top or a dining room table.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Skilled Photographer Captures Nature's Brilliance

My Uncle is one of those photographer's that has the ability to capture beauty and make it come alive. He was in the hills of Tennessee this past week, and because he is knows of my love for photography, he sent me numerous pictures. As always, when time permits, I sit at my computer with a hot cup of coffee and view the exquisite scenes of nature that he captures for me.
And, since I have informed all of you that this truly is my favorite time of the year, it is even more enjoyable for me. The gorgeous colors, the green grass, the squirrel collecting nuts in preparation for the cold winter ahead...I love it all.

In the busy, stress filled days of our lives, we sometimes miss out on the quiet, calming effects of nature around us.
This photo is a good reflection of our lives. We can see the road ahead, but we do not have any idea what is around the next bend. At times we can be so pre-occupied with trying to figure out what is beyond the next corner, that we totally miss the gorgeous scenery on the path before us.


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