Tuesday, April 30, 2013

 Like I mentioned in yesterday's post, when I went to the mailbox and discovered a package for me, I was thrilled.  Seeing that it was my long awaited cookbook, I was even happier.  You see, that is what gifts do for people, especially unexpected gifts, out-of-the-blue gifts, no matter if it is a phone call, a card in the mailbox, a tiny flower at the door...whatever way it appears it is so special.  It means that someone, somewhere, was thinking about you.  But...not only were they thinking about you, they somehow, in someway, took the time to let you know those exact thoughts.  Wow!  Isn't that an encouraging way to live?

I was flipping through a book on gift giving recently, by Rachel Ashwell.
I want to share a paragraph from her book, with you;

"Recently a neighbor of mine moved away, and I wanted to relay the message, "I'll miss you, and here's a little bit of Malibu to take with you."  I gathered some sand and tiny shells from the local beach, and put them into a simple antique mustard jar.  The individual items were of little financial value,  but the combination of the two elements-the sentiment and my effort-gave the gift emotional value."

She goes on to say, "A simple tray of food can be a wonderful way to tell someone you care.  I(Rachel) bring my daughter a tray every evening before bed.  I give her a cup of tea or a glass of milk and some cookies.  I always use a china cup and saucer, a pretty old plate and a linen napkin.  I include a little note with a couple words to wrap up some experience of the day. I know these notes mean a great deal to her.  In fact, she has an incredible filing system for them; she puts them inside a stuffed animal that she keeps on her bed.  That tattered old whale probably has more notes than stuffing by now."

Life at times can be hard.  Lonliness can be real.  Days can be tiring and trying at times.  A tiny gift in whatever form, can brighten the load, lift the spirits, and lighten the step for others, wouldn't you agree?  They certainly do for me.

So, I decided that I was going to have a giveaway, so that I could share the joy with someone, like I experienced yesterday from the contents in my mailbox.

There are no strings attached.  I just simply want to say thank you to each of you who visit my blog, whether you do it once a year, or every week.  Thank you! 

All I'd like you to do, is to comment and tell me about a simple, unexpected gift you received in the last few years, whether it was a smile when you most needed it, a handwritten note, a gift of time from someone, or whatever, you were given that meant a lot to you at the time you received it.

On Thursday evening a name will be drawn from the comments, and I will send you a small gift I bought at the Pottery Barn Outlet.  It is a mercury glass tray with three mercury glass votive holders, three battery operated votives(I prefer the real kind, but my husband prefers the battery operated kind.  He says I can't burn the house down with those:), and some reindeer moss scattered on the tray(if you prefer that on the tray or not).


Even if you never comment, feel free to comment now.
Consider it my way, of serving you cookies and tea, in a china cup.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Hospitality...it is what is on my mind this evening.
It has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
I see it taking place in so many different forms, and I am absolutely convinced that it always blesses...
always encourages...
and always those who are the givers and those who are the receivers, both come away with thankful hearts.

I can tell you with certainty, that every time I see this box in the grocery store isles, I am always transported back quite a few years, to the time I was first introduced to tacos.  It was the year 1974, and I was going to school on the west coast.  A new friend invited me to her home in Portland, Oregon for the weekend.  She lived in a tiny apartment on the third floor, of a quaint, old home in the city.  This in itself was a new experience for me, as I had lived my entire life in the country.  Teresa was most gracious.  She lived with her mother, who worked nights in the nearby hospital.  She was responsible to make our dinner, and she eagerly told me that we were going to have her favorite tacos.  Really, I had never heard that word before and was looking forward to the introduction.  Teresa pulled out the box of taco shells, and then worked her magic to cook us the best dinner.  I will never forget it!  Her and I sat at the little round table, overlooking the city lights, and together we ate tacos until we lost count.  I was hooked.  It was warm, gracious western hospitality, and she made me feel so welcomed(despite my tinges of homesickness.)

Believe it or not, whenever I see this box at the grocery store, I always, without fail, remember another hospitality memory.  I was newly married, and was shopping one day at our local mall.  I was in one of the beautiful, new women's stores, and the girl helping me find what I was looking for, what a young woman my age.  We struck up conversation immediately.  We found out we had a lot in common, and made plans to get together in the near future.  As our friendship progressed, she and her husband invited us to their home for dinner.  We were so honored to receive the invitation, especially from a couple we had just met.  When we arrived, they told us that they did not have any dining room table, and their kitchen table was too small, so they decided to eat in the living room.  We all sat down on the floor, around their wooden coffee table.  Honestly, it was so much fun!  I could not believe their realness, and lack of apologies.  Their hospitality spoke volumes to me, and I learned that evening, that hospitality was more important, than entertaining.  Chris had bought boxes of Chef Boyardee pizzas, and she kept making them, and bringing them into the living room, where we eagerly inhaled every last bite.  I will never forget that evening!  I left there more convinced than ever, that inviting people into your home, is the best gift you can give to them.  Whether it is tacos, pizza from a box, or the most elaborate feast possible...it is the thought and the friendship that is the most important of all.

Speaking of real, genuine western hospitality...

...today I excitedly found this new publication in my mailbox.  A few months ago, my name was pulled in a blog giveaway, and I discovered, much to my delight, that I was to receive this beautiful new masterpiece, that was a few years in the making.
There are an extremely gifted group of women on the western side of our country, that came together some years ago, and decided to share their love of cooking.
They gave themselves the name of "Mennonite Girls Can Cook", and you know what, that is the most appropriate name.
I have looked forward to receiving my copy, ever since I found out that I won.
I have their first cookbook, and keep discovering how skilled they are.
As I opened each page, I know I am in for a treat.

Each page is so beautifully done, and each food picture so expertly captured. 

I know right now, that I cannot wait to make this "Chili Cheese Dip".  I like every single ingredient called for .

This cookbook will be going to bookstores all over the country.  Take my word for it, you will want one, and it will serve as a perfect gift too.
The cookbook includes, gorgeous pictures, delicious recipes, words of their friendship, their faith, and their passion for cooking.  There are hosting tips, gluten free recipes and meaningful editorials.

If you want to, you can visit their website at ... http://www.mennonitegirlscancook.ca/

Another very special aspect of the cookbook is, that the royalties will help provide clean water for children and adults living in

Thank you MGCC for making my day today.  What an extra special gift to receive on a very cool, overcast, and wet Monday in April.  I can't wait to curl up on my favorite chair, with my hot cup of coffee, and read from cover to cover, when time allows.

Friday, April 26, 2013

"Normal day, let me be aware of the

treasure you are.  Let me learn from you,

love you, bless you before you depart.

Let me not pass you by in quest

of some rare and perfect tomorrow."  ~unknown

Pictures captured on this gorgeous Spring day.

"Just as each day brims with Your beauty, my mouth brims with your praise."     ~Psalms 71:8

I have no idea what your weekend holds, but I do hope you experience moments of beauty and joy in the midst of it all.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

For our family, we sieze the moment to celebrate occasions. 
Hence, I was thrilled for a few hours to be celebrated as a mother, on a pre-Mother's Day evening.  First to a local restaurant for dinner and precious time together.

On one side of the wooden booth...

And on the other side.  All the females in our family, minus one very important one who was unable to grab a flight east for the evening.  We sure did miss her!

I love how these three immediately pick up where they last left off, being together.  I like how the older ones care for the youngest one, and how she in turn looks adoringly up to them.

Feeling more blessed than I can express here.

Next stop, the old ice cream shop in the middle of the town square.  One could feel the nostalgia as one entered through the old glass door.

Because it was near closing time, we had the shop almost to ourselves.
The enthusiasm for the young ones was evident as they eagerly tried to look into the glass cabinets.

"Chocolate chip mint" was the popular choice for most everyone.

 But soon the cones turned into dishes of ice cream, making it so much easier to eat, or so they told her:)

 Before we knew it, it was again time to say "goodbye".

With more treasured memories to carry with us.  For this maw maw, it was a most special "Mother's Day" gift.

Thank you for allowing me to share my fun evening with you today.

Monday, April 22, 2013

 Miscellaneous post coming up...

Emptied my container of Martha Stewart cleaner.
Decided to fill it with my homemade cleaner, that works so well for me.
I found the recipe on the internet but I cannot remember where? 
It is half Dawn blue detergent and half white vinegar.  I also add 1/2 cup of water to mine.  I use it for everything.

I used this to remove the front and back sticker labels.

I washed out the container with hot soapy water and let it dry completely.

I found a sheet of rub-ons in my craft drawer.  I cut out the ones I wanted to use, arranged them on the front of the container, positioned them firmly, then rubbed the design firmly with a wooden popsicle stick.  That simple!
I must tell you about the site where I found this sheet.  It is
http://octoberafternoon.com  I was so impressed with their products, especially since vintage designs are their specialty. 

I added a "thank you" tag and will keep it to use as a hostess gift.
That way my friend will think of me each time she uses this to clean with.  Maybe she will even say a prayer for me when she does.

I had saved another container that had hand soap in it.  I went through the same steps and will use this in my rose bathroom.  I filled it with some Crabtree and Evelyn Rosewater liquid soap that I had in my cupboard.

I did find a good recipe for handmade soap that I would like to try sometime.  You can find it at  http://thankyourbody.com/homemade-liquid-hand-soap

Rub-ons provide some fun opportunities to add some color and design to many surfaces.

On a totally different note, I made some peanut butter cookies last Saturday.
I used one bag of Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie mix, followed the easy directions, except I added 1 tea. of vanilla to the list of ingredients.
Next I added 1 cup of chopped honey roasted peanuts, and 3/4 cup of mini white chocolate chips.  Stirred batter together, then put cookie batter on cookie sheet and baked as per directions.  My husband said, "I must share these". 

Simple, quick, and delicious!

I wrapped some in clear cellophane, tied each end, added a card, and then froze the packs in tupperware container.  Sometimes, I just need a little gift for friends.  This will work, unless of course they have a peanut allergy.  Then I will have to come up with another plan.

Truly "just a little something for you" this evening.
Thanks so much for stopping by.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

When I was in middle school, I was on a church quiz team.  We had to memorize some chapters and verses in the Bible, and then our quiz team competed with other church teams in knowing and reciting the memorized pieces.  Every week we would meet together with our gifted leader, and every week she would drill us.  Interestingly enough, I can still recall with clarity, the content of it all.  This week, one of those verses lodged itself in my heart and mind;

Phillipians 4:8  "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are nobel, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there is any virture and if there is anything praiseworthy...meditate on these things."

Today, I appreciate the freedom we still have in America.
            I appreciate all the law enforcement, the squat teams, the EMTs,
            the surgeons, and all those who put their lives on the line to protect.

            I appreciate the laws of our land and the fact that we still want to
            enforce the "right" and "wrong" of decisions made. 

            I appreciate the fact that Americans come together, neighbors,
            families, friends, and those who never met each other, come together
            to help one another in times of devastation.

            Most of all, I appreciate the fact that I can fill my mind with the
            things in life that are good and worthwhile.  I still have the freedom
            to read my Bible and find there so much hope and encouragement.

            So today, in spite of all that life sends, I quietly treasure the verse
            I learned long ago in middle school, in the recesses of my heart.
            And I am seeing all the beauty as Springtime breaks forth
            around me. 

I long to appreciate and focus on the good today.  That reminds me to tell you all just how much I appreciate each of you too.  Thank you for stopping by.  I pray that you will be shown something lovely today.

Speaking of beauty, I found this picture in an older copy of "Country Living" magazine, and I liked it's simplicity.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

 Good morning! 

In light of the events of this week, my heart is saddened with the news stories that continue to follow that event. 
It once again, puts things in proper perspective.  Things that seemed so important and so pressing, loose some of their urgency. 

What could possibly be shared in blogland, after all that transpired?

My prayer is that I take more time to appreciate the little things.  The simple things that make me smile, during the ordinary moments of the everyday.
Here are a few of those simple, somewhat insignificant things;

Since I always like having a centerpiece on my kitchen table, here is the one I created this week.  A few limes with a crystal candleholder and a candle.  The heart salt and pepper shakers were a birthday gift to me and I think they are adorable.  Makes me want to add salt and pepper to everything:)

I took this picture of a bluejay in our backyard.  I gave a copy of the photo to my neighbor, because of her interest in birds.  Well, look what she gave back to me.  She made a copy of my picture and then placed it in this frame for me.  I smile everytime I see it on my kitchen shelf.  What a perfect photo/frame combination.

The pretty little pansey faces that fill the clear, unique vases on my kitchen shelves.  Every since I received this piece, I find it fun to fill it with little flower groupings. 

Have you tried coconut oil?  I have been using this in different capacities and all that I read about it is true, especially as a moisturizer.  I have read about it's many uses and I too am now a fan.

I have always liked trying new pens.  This is my newest favorite!  It is inexpensive and lasts so long. 

Two inexpensive packages of these fun colored, plastic travel containers, I purchased at the local drugstore.  Believe it or not, they have brought my grandchildren so much entertainment and enjoyment during their bathtime.  Last night the twins were over and they played for a half hour, pouring water from one container to another.  The funnel added to the fun for them.  Who would have thought this purchase would be such a hit?

 I also sometimes fill a huge bowl with water and set it on towels on my porch, and they use these containers in that way too.  Either way, children love filling and emptying containers of water. 

The friendly turken(combination of turkey and chicken) who brings joy to my granddaughter.  The turken and the girl have a special bond, and together, they always make me smile.

As I had my cup of coffee early this morning, I found myself reflecting on the importance of recognizing the blessings of daily life.  Having health, having all my limbs and having them function as they should, having loved ones around me, and experiencing the Spring of the year. 
In a moment's time, all that changed for so many this week, in Boston.  I can't imagine all that they are facing, especially after listening to the update on the victims, by a Boston doctor.

God, help me to never take life and it's blessings for granted.  This is what is in my heart today.

Thank you for stopping by today. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

A beautiful Spring day is the perfect time to share a few valuable lessons, with the little ones who are in your care.
I told her to, "notice the tiny things in life, the things that are easy to ignore, to walk by and never see." 
I showed her that everywhere around her, these pretty little violets are showing their faces. 
She bent down and inspected her new find.
As we walked down the trail, she was delighted to see how many violets she could find. 
Note to self..."don't ever loose the wonder of it all".
I told her, "that no matter how busy you get in the playground world, take time for your brother."  "Let him know every once in a while, that you love him, and that he is important to you."

"That no matter how insurmountable the steps ahead of you may look, simply take one step at a time."  "You can do it, really you can!"

I reminded her, that having that grandpas are wonderful, especially when they take time to do things you just love to do.

I taught her what Forsythia is, and that it only blooms in the Spring of the year.  I let her pick some of it's pretty branches.

And I reminded her, that she can always bless someone's day(especially her mother), if she picks a few flowers to give to her.  I told her that, "everyone likes to receive a bouquet of flowers."  She took it all so seriously.

And I told her, "that if flowers don't work to lift someone's spirits, that singing to them might just do it."  With her whole little heart, she sang to her brother the song, "You Are My Sunshine".  She did not know, but these reminders were as important to me, as they were for her.  How often I forget the truths that I was trying to relay to her(except maybe the singing one:)

Oh the joys of a young, teachable spirit.  Oh the privilege of spending moments of relaxed time with these little ones, on a lovely Saturday afternoon of babysitting.

That's it for now.  Lots to do on this Monday.


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