Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year Blessings

   The start of our new year was rather bumpy and wet..a sick teen, a sick goat and some grey cloudy rain..yet it was also one of many blessings. Evening brought improvement to the teen..his fever was down and he managed to eat; the goat was on her feet nibbling hay and nuzzling me; the weather, well at least it isn't drought conditions.
   As this new year starts off, let us take the time to recall the many amazing blessings we have had this past year. We have been blessed with good health, bountiful gardens and pastures, employment and education.. stayed out of debt and worked through difficult spiritual challenges. Friends have been made and new doors open. These things encourage us forward and keep us looking ahead.
   With a new year comes new beginnings and new adventures..I desire to grow in self-disciple as my children start moving on and my path changes. New skills are on my list for this year..master gardening and machine quilting classes are just around the corner as my heart desires to stretch my writing skills and delve into some new areas.
   In it all we are very blessed to share our lives with each of you. Your notes of encouragement and amazing posts of your own offer me a source of friendship and strength. Facing this new year, my prayer is for your homes..your lives to be filled with His abundant blessings and wonderful favor. God bless you today and throughout this amazing new year.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Challenge Accepted

   It became increasingly obvious to me that my farm boy was very sick: 1..He lay on the couch without pestering me even once 2..He wasn't devouring everything in sight.  3. He skipped the gym. At that, I felt a bit of panic..the boy was sick.
   With illness comes blankets and soup; icy pops and hot tea..and TV. We aren't much on TV, but when you are down with a bug it offers up some distraction...and for an active teen boy..distraction was necessary. In the run of the day a program was found featuring a shop in our state that served one pound cinnamon rolls.
    Needless to say cinnamon rolls are a farm boy favorite and no amount of illness would squelch the deep yearning for a one pound wonder. In a feverish delirium a challenge was made..could a simple farm mom manage such a feat? Challenge accepted.
      During some quilting my mind wandered over the many tasty recipes I have used for fluffy, gooey rolls and the way to wow my grumpy young patient. Deciding upon my Potato Roll recipe (found here), sleeves were rolled up, oven preheated...time to get floured.
      Basically, I made the recipe exactly the same..even rolling it out and slathering the dough with butter and cinnamon sugar. Then, instead of cutting the dough into rolls, I rolled some butter and cinnamon sugar onto the log before cutting it in half and coiling each one into giant cinnamon rolls..placed in two greased 9" round pans..and baked it 350 degrees for 30 minutes. The same buttery icing was made and slathered over the hot steamy wonders.
   The result..a cinnamon roll inside a cinnamon roll...buttery sticky sweet pile of awesome goodness. Did it weigh a pound? Who cares..it is a giant steaming sticky bun full of finger licking goodness..does it really matter? During a break from feverish grief, the farm boy took a healthy sampling. Not a word was said as he devoured it..licking fingers and forks.
   You may be wondering about the other one..well, my husband found it and made a nice dent in it. I do believe we have not seen the end of the giant cinnamon roll challenge. What about you? Feel like taking the one pound roll challenge? It does make a deliriously delicious New Year treat. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sunday...

Psalm 100

King James Version (KJV)
100 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Herbal Tea and 'Dear Mommy'...

   It was that kind of day...and herbal tea kind of day. My angry sinuses kept me moving at the pace of slow. As the farm boy settled the late afternoon with a fever, Jen and I put some poultry on to roast and did a little light housework. Then, in the midst of slicing onions and rubbing spices, she popped her little 17-self on the table top and posed a 'Dear Mommy' question.
   Over the years, as my kids have grown and changed..their challenges have changed along with them. Funny enough, their friends' challenges have followed suit. In this time the 'Dear Mommy' moments have seeped into our lives causing me to reflect, ponder, and even attempt to answer some of the quirky, hard, and sometimes strange questions plaguing our youth. Today brought to my kitchen one of those questions.
   "How do you handle a relationship with a hard-headed, stubborn man?" I turned to face my teen..onion tears and all..and laughingly asked why on earth she thought I would have an answer to that, after all her daddy is so docile and easy going. Laughter ensued...wet your pants and cry a bit laughter. Not only is my husband a strong-willed, determined man..he is stubborn.
   Once the frivolity settled, I answered her friend's question with the advice given me years ago. 1. You can not change him..it isn't within your power or under your range of authority. The only person in any relationship you can change is you. 2. You have to face his flaws and quirks and determine if you can live with them; then determine how you will live with them. 3. Remember, this works both ways.
   Relationships are tough..all relationships..and they require a give and take that many people in this world just don't put the effort into. My heart's conviction in my relationships is whether or not working through the difficulties makes us both better and if I have it in me to get through it. One truly humbling realization is..the other person most likely feels the same way. I have stubborn strengths and quirks my husband has to figure out how to live with (who knew, right?).
   Dear ladies (and young men) let me be honest...it takes work..life long hard work to make any relationship last, but in that time there is growth and love and respect. Over the years, I realize it has made us both better and stronger and, well, funnier. And changing? Well, I can change me..my reactions, my approach, my attitude toward things..but I will never change him. Reality is, our weirdness may aggravate each other, but it also works for us.
   Now, I pose the question to you...how would you have answered this young lady's question? I look forward to your perspective..let's share our hearts.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

One Off & One On

   Just days before Christmas the Holly Lane quilt managed to find it's way off the frame. With evergreen binding in place, this pretty challenge headed for a new home. No more snow flurries or chimney swirls for me..after a few days rest it is now time for something new.
    There are ten complete quilt tops waiting for their turn on the frame...choosing which one is next is always a problem. At the advice of a teen, I gathered up the smallest one to get me going. Today there was pressing and stretching; pinning and basting.
   So it is, the Jungle Baby Patchwork is ready for needle and thread to magically transform this crafty quilt top into a true and complete heirloom treasure. Traditional 'Baptist Fan' hand quilting will cover corner to corner in cotton cream thread.
   Oh the rows of churn dashers and flying geese...a pretty heart and the little jungle baby animals tucked here and there. I look forward to some fireside stitching these next several days..hopefully it will finish up quickly and make room for the next big quilt..a red white and blue pinwheel!

   If you are interested in reserving this quilt, please see it's listing in our shop Simply Scaife Handmade.

 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pondering

   Cold frosty winds rattle the window panes sending shivers over stockinged feet. Today we managed to stay warm gathered together in the kitchen working through a good Texas brisket and some tasty Mexican Pizza. The farm boy worked on his five foot unicycle skills while I pondered the next quilt to roll on the frame.
    This week I ponder the plans for the next year..what direction to take our little Etsy shop...what the blog may hold...where another driver in the house will lead...a graduation..the hint of a wedding possibility. Healthier transitions and farmstead upgrades and additions.
     Tonight I dream of garden rows and quilt designs...a full freezer and new babies... of a new year and new ideas. What are your dreams for the next season?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

For Now...

   It has been a quiet and unusual holiday; celebrations quite different from years past. Overnight storms brought destruction and power outages to our area along with bone-chilling wind. Gatherings were cancelled due to illnesses so our time was spent helping others work on generators and winterize their homes.
   Either way, the teens gathered at our home for a bit to share in the giving and preparing of things. Stalls were insulated and a sick little goat was tended to. Tonight, dinner rolls rise on the old gas stove while a fire crackles in the fire place. One plucks a new banjo and one chats with a friend...at least we are warm while the wind howls outside.
   For now, we wait for news of restored health and electricity returned. For now, we nestle in..venturing out only when absolutely necessary. Knitting or pick in hand...quilting or a new book..for now, we rest in the knowledge of His love and favor...of together, at least for now.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Blessings...

Wishing you and your families the blessings and wonders of our amazing Savior.
Remember Christmas is
Christ
my 
awesome
Savior!
O Holy Night

Sunday, December 23, 2012

On the Eve

   On this eve before Christmas pots simmer and bubble while paper meets tape and ribbon and bow. 
The fire is glowing- cold wind finally came here to blow.
Together we snuggle beneath blankets so warm
Waiting for morning to bring Christmas charm.


Enjoy!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sunday

Luke 2

King James Version (KJV)
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?
50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Friday, December 21, 2012

One More Candy for the Road

Peanut Brittle  
http://pinterest.com/pin/217861700693703548/

   A little moment with Pinterest lead me to The Comfort of Cooking where beautiful peanut brittle decorates their page. Salty peanuts paired with sweet sugar brittle reminds me of candy making days with my mother. One year we stirred multiple batches of brittle with my kids, but a little mishap occurred leaving me with several burned fingers. That's why I never use a heavy bottom pot with a handle...I'm just saying.
   While The Comfort of Cooking's recipe is similar, I can't help share my family's own version passed to me and my kids from days on the prairie.

Prairie Peanut Brittle

3 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup Karo
3 teaspoons butter
2 teaspoons soda
3 cups raw peanuts 
1 teaspoon salt

In a heavy bottom pot, stir together sugar, water and Karo. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to hard crack stage (300 degrees). Add peanuts and cook until golden. Remove from heat before adding butter, salt and soda. Pour mixture onto a buttered baking sheet. Once completely cooked, break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

**sometimes I have not been able to find raw peanuts..I have used roasted with great success. If they are salted, simply omit the salt in the recipe. Also, any nut works well: pecan, almond, cashew and pistachio are excellent substitutions.

Now, I am off for a day of sugar and butter..of candies and cups of coffee. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Grandma's Buttery Toffee

English Toffee | The Little Red House
http://pinterest.com/pin/29484572532239372/
   Gazing across the amazing images on Pinterest this afternoon a vision of English Toffee from The Little Red House caught my eye. My mind wondered to holidays past and the memory of kitchens filled with laughter as we gathered over the years to make wonderful buttery toffee.

Grandma's Buttery Toffee

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup white syrup (Karo)
3 Tablespoons water

Combine these ingredients in a heavy bottom sauce pan and cook over medium heat to 300 degrees (hard crack stage). 

Stir in:
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 

Pour the mixture onto a buttered baking sheet and place on top:
4 large chocolate bars

Sprinkle with:
3/4 cup slivered almonds

   Once the candy cools, we break into random pieces and store it in air tight containers between layers of wax paper. You can score the candy making nicely shaped bars or squares, but I have never been that patient:) 
    This toffee recipe has passed through the years and remains a holiday staple at every family gathering, often tucked in jars and shared as a gift under the tree. Tell me some of your favorite holiday treats..I would love to hear about them.

Blogfest Favorite






Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Grandma's Prairie Broken Glass

Cinnamon hard candy
http://pinterest.com/pin/253749760224297842/

   Winter time on the prairie was time without garden harvests or planting and plowing. Those chores out of our routine the door was open for some creative fun; candy making. One particular treat that always tempted my taste buds and fascinated by imagination was one called 'Broken Glass'. Red for cinnamon or green for mint, sugar and water magically came together to form a sheet of tasty treasure.

Grandma's Broken Glass

3 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon oil or peppermint oil
red food coloring for cinnamon or green for peppermint

In a heavy bottom pot stir the sugar, corn syrup and water over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to a boil. Using a candy thermometer as a guide, bring the mixture to 310 degrees. Remove from heat before adding colorings and flavorings. Pour into buttered pans (I use a buttered baking sheet). Cool completely before breaking into pieces. Enjoy!

A Few Tips:

..candy can be scored and broken into uniform pieces if done when semi-set (before it cools)
..to prevent sticking, toss with confectioners sugar before storing in airtight containers
...this recipe makes excellent lollipops if a form or free form is used
..candy making is best done in sunny weather with low humidity
**remember, boiling sugar doesn't just burn..it maims..be careful!**


   While it has been years since the days of making this magical candy with my prairie grandmothers, the memories are still so fresh and new. On rare seasons here in the south I have made this recipe with my own children, passing along the wonder and fun of these fun simple memories.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Memories

   Cold prairie winds blow snow into glistening drifts- family is gathering. Over night guests have arrived from near and far in preparation for a day of celebrating. Grandma and I have been busy with the aunts baking and cleaning- decorating and wrapping..it's Christmas on the farm.
   The day is filled with visitors and visiting- treats are nibbled while grown ups share coffee and news. Cousins play in the basement with toys our parents played with when they were little. Anticipation grows as the day wears on.
   Around the farm table everyone sets- everyone in their place. Card tables are set for cousins; just off the side of the big table and right next to the treats! Delicious aromas fill the air: roast turkey and buttery mashed potatoes- my mother's clover leaf dinner rolls, jello salads (Watergate and Pretty Pink) set beside a carrot salad and creamy deviled eggs.
   When the children become antsy the family makes their way to the big living room. Seats are taken around the magnificent tree as beautifully wrapped gifts are passed from person to person. Crinkly bows and twirly ribbon sparkly against bright colored paper. Dolls and games, cars and books- some clothes and perfumes  Pots and pans, sparkly 'what-nots'; gifts are opened and shared together in a carol of laughter and awe.
   There are a few quirky little gifts I look forward to like nothing else: the big red stocking and the cardboard story book. The big red stocking made of red netting is filled with silly little 'this-and- thats' that adults consider nonsense any other time of the year. Bouncy little rubber balls and swirly colored marbles; jacks and jump ropes or bubbles and water pistols...odd little 'store bought' candies like chocolate marshmallow Santas and candy coins. The story book is brightly colored cardboard that opens into a book filled with my favorite little hard candy- Lifesavers. A dozen rolls of every flavor they make will surely last me the whole year (not really, but I always think it will).
   With gifts all done we trickle toward the kitchen for pinches and tastes from the desert table. Grandma's poinsettia printed tablecloth covers card tables festively displaying her magical treats. Cherry mash candies sit next to her traditional Christmas pie. Sheets of 'broken glass' shine in red and green- one is cinnamon and one is mint, while toffee and brittle sit beautiful nearby. My mother's pies sparkle with shimmery sweet crust- one cherry and one apple with lattice tops and perfectly crimped edges. Deciding what to have is the challenge.
   Sitting there in the evening glow of colorful lights and soft evening lamps, my gaze wanders to the wild prairie. My eyes fall to the window where plastic candelabras shine with orange lights greeting cars as they pass by. Outside that window my prairie stretches out far and wide beneath a blanket of shimmering lights. Quiet and still the night glistens with beauty and wonder....so magical is the time when it's Christmas on the farm.

Monday, December 17, 2012

In the Winter Garden

   Our way down south weather has been anything but winter-like. Days peaking in the 70's and 80's break records every day; night time temps are no less surprising. With all this warmth, the winter garden has been challenging and surprising.
    Warm soil has kept our cold weather crops rather leafy yet unyielding; broccoli is buttoning and cabbage plants have yet to form a head. Leafy greens have quite a bite in their taste and have been riddled with pests. Problems like this in the winter garden leave me quite concerned about spring planting.
    Of course, I am unfettered. Regular weeding, watering and pest stomping still happens with the hope of saving some small harvest from the strangely warm season. The greenhouse sits vents wide open housing some citrus trees and a few tender herbs..which would have been fine had they remained in their beds. No tender greens planted there so far..way to warm for that.
   Crazy enough, the two main things still thriving and producing in my winter garden- onions and peppers. No pests, no frost lots of harvest here; one more sign the soil has not seen winter temps. Who would have thought December would find me testing more preserving recipes for habaneros and Tabasco peppers?
   Here we sit with the fans on high and a tall glass of iced tea chatting about hot pepper recipes only days before celebrating Christmas..who knew the winter garden would be producing summer crops? So as I swat another mosquito and read one more garden article about pest control, I will also..ironically, wrap gifts in snow flake printed paper to place under my tree.
   Actually..I am nixing the printed paper this year for something a little less frustrating, but that's a share for another day.

  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Simple Candies

Candy making is a long standing tradition in my family; one that spans back as far as I can remember. Wonderful memories of grandmothers and aunts gathered in kitchens. Sweet syrupy aromas bubble and swirl. These rich memories are treasures of mine. Memories like these I wanted for my kids..and I could hardly wait to start. 
We all know that cooking with small children has to be simple and easy; complicated candies just wouldn't do. As a step to bigger things, we started candy making with our little ones with two very simple candies: White Chocolate Peppermint Bark and Peanut Clusters.
   For the White Chocolate Peppermint Bark, we start with a large bag of peppermints- unwrapped and placed in a resealable bag. Using wooden spoons and rolling pins the mints are pounded and swacked to a nice chunky to fine consistency. While the kids crush the mints, I would melt a package of white melting chocolate in a double broiler. All hands gather around as the mints swirl and stir into the chocolate before being poured into a wax paper lined baking sheet or dropped by spoonfuls onto a wax paper surface.

   As soon as the dishes are washed it is time for a little milk chocolate treat. Melting some chocolate melting chocolates in a double broiler we then stir in salty peanuts for a wonderful treat. Dropped onto a wax paper lined usrgace, they hardly set before kids start sneaking a taste.

   Though our kids really outgrew these simple recipes, the taste for their sweet salty minty goodness. In the fair of toffees and brittles our first shared candies still find a home. In fact, this year they have been shared and passed on to new friends and younger families.

 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sunday

Matthew 2

King James Version (KJV)
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,
18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.
21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.
22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

Friday, December 14, 2012

In Need of..

   A quiet day...to recover from hectic happenings...to stitch some progress into a quilt...to hold family close and treasure their presence.
    A quiet day of prayer and condolences for all those affected by the tragic shooting in Connecticut. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Make Contact

   The cold chill of the Christmas season draws us near to one another. We gather around tables and near fireplaces..loved ones all around. Despite the long list of things to be done and the hectic holiday traffic, our family sets our mind with stern determination to make contact.
    Not the contact by email or an online chat, but a face to face or phone to phone contact. Contact with the home bound, the assisted care residents..contact with family far away or a long lost friend. Lonely people are every where waiting for a friendly visit or phone call.
     As I join my parents at a local hospital for my father's heart cath, I am reminded of one Christmas contact. My friend and I had children close in age..and both had children in the hospital for days on end. Home from that now, our hearts went out to families stuck in those rooms during Christmas. We bundled our kids and hit the store filling bags with toys, games, and books...delivering them to the very floor of the hospital our own kids had been in just weeks before.
    Only a few years later, that friend and one of her daughters died in a car accident. Of the many fond memories I have of her and her family, our day of 'making contact' is one of my favorites. We not only made contact with families, but made contact with each other..a connectino that will last eternity.
      

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Season's Serving: Angel Tree

http://www.angeltree.org/images/content/angel_tree/downloadable_images/father_with_son.jpg
Image from Angel Tree program 



    

   Ministering in the prison system opened our eyes to things we otherwise may not have seen. While convicted criminals pay their debt to the society they have wronged, their families pay a heavy price..their children in particular. Suffering unnoticed are innocent victims of the choices made without them. 
   The Angel Tree program connects incarcerated families with their children through Christmas gifts given by donation. Children's wishes are placed on ornaments that decorate the Angel Tree often  set up at various churches or businesses; ours is at the YMCA. 
   Each year that one of our family members has worked for the YMCA we have chosen an ornament and filled the needs of a child or set of children...offering not only a gift, but the ministry of hope to their family.  For more information about the Angel Tree program, please visit their web sight here


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Season's Serving: Filling the Need

   Holidays are times of gathering and feasting; of fireplaces and fuzzy blankets...but not for everyone. In our own backyard people are hungry, homeless, and cold..facing the season without their basic needs being met. As we prepare to share our blessings with one another, we also focus our feet on sharing our blessings with others.
   Food pantries are everywhere; our county, our churches, and often in local charity kitchens. Our family has gathered extra supplies for many avenues of pantry ministries. From our own local church, to the home reaching out to inmates' families food donations are always in need..in season or out. Grocery chains offer the convenience of purchasing a prepackaged bag of groceries for our county food bank...and crisis centers send mailers in our mailbox daily.
   In our shopping cart this month, those extra sale blessings..the two for fives or buy one get one's.. will be set aside and shared with those who need a little extra assistance. We never know when we ourselves may be on the receiving end of one of these special blessings.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Season's Serving: Give a Gift

 
In the day in and day out of things there often comes unique opportunities to share the love of Christ in ways that maybe only we can appreciate. My children have grown up in an agriculture rich, 4H environment that gave them a clear understanding of our relationship to our food. A desire to share that understanding and that gift came to light in the form of a goat. 
A year of county fair goat projects brought us to the World Vision  program. Here was an opportunity to send families in need the gift of sustainable living; a goat, some poultry or even the gift of water any where in the world. 
As our 4H project changed focus over the years, so did our choice of gift; one year a goat, one year some poultry, and so on. It has been a blessing to see my children's enthusiasm at the arrival of their gift catalog. Gathering around the table, we plot and plan the amount to spend and the gifts we can make; joy abounds no matter their age. 
Amazingly enough, this led us to year round sponsorship of children needing basic necessities, including education. We have been blessed to sponsor a child that out grew the program..and to take on a new one, just starting out. 
In a nation that has so much, I am proud and humbled to open the eyes and hearts of our family to the desperate needs of others.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Season's Serving: Assisting the Assisted

   When my children were grade school age, a conversation crossed our table...what would be under Christ's Christmas tree? Such a question sparked new conversation year after year. The easy answer is He wants our heart. Yet, the question rises how do we give it to Him? As a family committed to putting our faith to our feet we have worked in some wonderful opportunities over the years for giving Him our hearts for Christmas.
   My husband is a pastor..and has been a pastor to the assisted living residents off and on for many years. One particular season, he was serving in a 'ward of the state' facility. This facility was heartbreaking and in great need. Spending Sunday after Sunday with the staff and residents, our hearts ran deep with compassion for the situation they faced. That year, we put our faith and love in action by hosting a drive for 'necessities'.     
   I never realized many facilities depend on donations or family members to provide incontinence care needs (Depends) for their residents. In a state run facility, supplies often run short leaving a desperate need. Every shopping trip we made, a box or two of 'necessities' were purchased. On an off day (a day during the week when we were not expected to be there) we made a discrete trip by to deliver our offering.
   Now, we also hand delivered cards and little gifts to the residents and hosted a Christmas singing for them..but the secret joy in our hearts was knowing a private need was being met..and that our young children shared in an offering of compassion. Year after year, even though we are no longer hosting services in this facility, our hearts are always blessed by the secret service of assisting the assisted.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sunday

Matthew 1

King James Version (KJV)
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;
And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;
And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;
And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;
11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:
12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Busy, Busy Day

   With rain in the forecast and the hope of cooler weather on the way, our weekend will be busy, busy. Late harvests are gathered in needing to be put up; the peppers are still so plentiful and abundant. Plants need protected and the herd needs a warm bed. The wood pile has been growing to make ready..we are eager for a cozy fireplace.
   Some sewing projects are complete and off the table while the quilt moves closer to its final turn..a sewing room is underway. Having never had a sewing room my heart delights in the upcoming set up. Cooler weather should allow plenty of time for stitching and arranging; I look forward to both!
   Blessed weekend to all my wonderful friends..may you enjoy the wonderful weather..whatever that weather may be!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fun Finds: Christmas Traditions

   Traditions run deep in many families..and new traditions come as families grow and change. Today was take a stroll through the web to look at the wonderful family traditions from all corners of the blog-o-sphere.
 
Over at The Texas Darlings there are gingerbread houses and family hayrides. My children grew up with both of these wonderful traditions and share those memories often. They may have slanted walls or droopy eaves, but a gingerbread house made together is a wonderful decor for a holiday table!

http://media-cache-ec6.pinterest.com/upload/122863896055682003_mslh2KSR.jpg 
Next we land at Cracker Barrel where their Pinterest board shows popcorn garlands. I find this quite a challenge to do, but loved doing it year after year. Who knew you could laugh..and cry..so hard?
Advent 
Around-about we land at Blooming Mommy where a family focused Advent calendar grew and bloomed over the years. We also used various methods of Advent during the course of our parenting journey..our favorite involved lighting candles. The possibilities are only limited by our imaginations.
  
Finally we land at Love to Know for some wonderful information on sharing Christmas celebrations from around the world. Doesn't a "12 Days of Christmas" learning plan sound wonderful? 

   As we prepare for the joyous celebration to come, may we not forget the reason for our gathering. Remembering the birth of our Savior is the most precious tradition; one that can last a lifetime and beyond. Join me next week as we look at serving and sharing Him during the holidays.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Trimming Our Prairie Tree

 
   Many years have passed since my days of Christmas on the prairie, but the memories are so strong and dear to me. The sparkle of lights and old fashioned ice cycles..tinsel and trimmings on a fresh prairie tree..family coming in..all the makings of a prairie gathering. 

   Outside the sunlight sparkles on fresh fallen snow- no wild and free prairie roaming right now; there's a tree to trim. Grandma pulled boxes and boxes of ornaments from the basement bedroom..they sit waiting to be hung. Chores come first here on the prairie farm, but once they are finished it's time to trim the tree.
   Bubble lights bubble next to the flower petal lights that twinkle from their strands. Out of the boxes come shiny balls of all colors; I love the way the lights make mysterious reflections on them! Felt flexible elves sit here and there as glossy Santas, stockings and ovals make their appearance. Wooden toys hang here and there amidst swirls of tinsel..the tree takes on such a magical wonder as piece by piece these items are hung.
   Disheartened at finding the end of the ornaments- boxes are all empty; only the tissue paper remains....one more thing is lacking. Grandma pulls a package from the back room...icicles! Isn't it amazing how they look like one sheet of shiny paper until you touch them and they come apart? String by string we fling them here and there- careful to keep them away from the light bulbs. The final touch is next...the little angel.
   With light bulbs for hands and golden hair, the little tree angel glows brightly from her perch atop the tree. I love to daydream about her..make up little stories about her life and her work watching over little prairie girls like me. She is my favorite part of the tree; soft and sweet, so beautiful and bright.
   We step back and admire our work; Grandma adjusts a few things here and there being sure it looks 'just right' from the big picture window it sits in front of. I think it's amazing standing there in all it's might...tall and majestic; filled with wonder and excitement. The trimming of the tree brings us one step closer to Christmas and the gathering together of family on the farm.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Quirky Tradition

   Years ago I was invited to a woman's house to do some quilting. In her kitchen a tiny door was tucked under the cabinets; almost too discreet to see. When asked the purpose of the door she replied it was just for fun. There in sparked a silly and quirky tradition.
    This sweet little mouse ornament has been making her crafty appearance around the farmhouse since the first year we moved in. Only seen when holiday festivities are underway..she might be found under the piano or perched in a window sill. Each of us takes turns with joy and laughter placing her here and there. Great fun and imagination shine through her silly antics. Watch in corners and in the branches of the tree because you never know just where she might be.
   Today I found her tucked among the decorations just waiting to appear in our home. A smile crossed my face at the memory of many fun adventures we have had with her..oh the stories made up and shared over such a simple and quirky thing.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Dreaming of Home

   It may be December, but our southern home has been unseasonably warm and disturbingly muggy. Hopes of 'white Christmases' and evenings by the fire seem lost in the gunk. Standing in the laundry, sweat dripping down my neck, a sense of longing filled me..a longing for home. Days of prairie Christmases are long gone, but they are never truly far away when my heart starts dreaming of home.
   Thanksgiving festivities have come and gone; the prairie falls silent. Morning dawns with magical surprise as snow flurries flutter across the prairie softly blanketing barren fields. Frosty windows transform into perfect canvases for creative little fingers. Grandma reminds me..those windows do not clean themselves. Nothing dampens the anticipation swelling with in me--Christmas is coming!
    Shopping plans are made- a long car ride to the next town is torture for an anxious farm girl. Visions of winter wonderland scenery play outside the car window as the long ride brings us across the farmland. Once at the store beautiful greenery and bright colored decorations spark my deep desire for this beautiful season. I can't wait to get back to the farmhouse and start 'making ready.'
   Day falls as we travel back home; unloading the car in the chill reminds me evening chores will be dreadfully cold. Snow crunches under my boots as I trek down the drive toward the big old barn. Warm noses nuzzle me as feed is cast. I slip off my gloves to let rough tongues gently swipe my fingers. No one likes chopping frozen water troughs..not even me! Yet, the victory of breaking through the glossy sheet of hard ice is sweet as the cows crowd around for a drink. Those soft warm bodies radiate such heat I can't resist the urge to snuggle one.
   Trudging back toward the farmhouse frost glistens from the old red water pump- I remember stories of my mom sticking her tongue on it- a giggle slips from deep within me and breaks the silent scene. There I stand  for just a moment, to take in the view before me: soft snow sparkles in the dusky light, prairie wind lends its sorrowful moan, the rustle of a nearby tree.
   Closing my eyes I tilt my head toward the setting prairie sun. A deep breath fills my lungs with cold crisp air sending a shiver over my whole body. My prairie is changing bringing anticipation of new things- a longing. Joy and wonder abound in my heart... I am here in the midst of a magical change.


Teaching the Nativity

   Every aspect of the holiday season is an opportunity to teach a child, and every family has their own unique ways to share the love of Christ with their children. A favorite teaching tradition in our little home is the setting of the nativity. Week by week the scene unfolds bringing to life the story of a Savior piece by piece. Starting with the family Bible open to Luke 2, the angel comes to Mary to tell of her great calling; next week Joseph will have his dream. On and on we go week by week- each piece of the Nativity is set out- added to the scene- as we come to its place in the story.
   The story marvelously unfolds as we gather together until on Christmas morning each family member chooses a piece of the Nativity to hold. My husband takes the family Bible and reads the story of Christ's birth as one by one we place our piece in the stable...ending with him placing the Babe in the manger. Precious hymns are sung...O Come, O Come Emmanuel, Silent Night, Away in the Manger..until we end with Happy Birthday Jesus.
   Our tradition has been shared year by year with family, friends, and Sunday school classes. Children love the interaction and anticipation of placing each piece in the scene as truth is shared in this moment of togetherness. Today I am grateful for the amazing creativity that brought this precious memory to our family.
   

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sunday

Revelation 11

King James Version (KJV)
11 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
11 And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,
17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Event for the Day...

 

Here is where we will be,..come join us if you can!

Fun Finds for the Tree

   Grab your tinsel and plug in your glue gun..it's time to clear the kitchen table for a fabulous fun crafter-noon. Here are this week's fun finds for trimming your tree.
Easy DIY ornaments! 
First let us hop over to College Lifestyles for a quick and simple ornament called a 'Kissing Ball'. A dab ribbon and a sprig of holly accent a simple fabric wrapped ball for a frugal fun way to use a few fat quarter scraps.
37 simple homemade #christmas ornaments 
Next we zip over to Fave Crafts for a whopping thirty-one seriously simple ornaments for crafty tree trimming.  Paper cut rustic angles and sheet music baubles look frugal and fabulous.
 cinnamon ornament recipe 
Our next stop on the web is Turnstyle Vogue where cinnamon and applesauce magically become fragrant decorations just right for tree trimming or accenting a gift. Reminds me of the years my little ones made them in the kitchen with me..after the holidays we hung them in our closets to keep the cinnamon scent going a little longer.
Nativity ornament 
Finally we stop by Crafting and Creativity for a precious vision of simplicity. Little wooden people offer a natural and humble reminder of the reason we celebrate. A precious nativity for showing or sharing..and excellent simple gift for a friend.

   Oh, my but there are so many more things to do and see..burlap ornaments and sparkly ornaments; tulle and ribbon..the possibilities are endless. After the business of this weekend pass, we intend to dust of the tree and clear out a corner to do a little trimming of our own. 
   Have a wonderful crafter-noon!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bringing in the Tree

   Winter chill and the light of a full moon stir my heart to days gone by. Christmas on the prairie was a marvelous affair..and bringing in the tree was no small feat. Grandpa and I had a mission to complete..a marvelous trek to make. The purpose was clear..the need certain..a prairie tree it would be.

  When snow came to the prairie it brought with it the anticipation of celebration. With each passing day my longing for our special gathering was faintly pacified with various chores associated with 'company coming'. Oh how I longingly waited for the long trek- a true sign Christmas was drawing near.
   Rising to another bitter cold morning- eggs and toast; sausage and such- another day of snow and work. Sitting there by Grandpa..a sideways glance revealed a twinkle in his eye. My heart jumped- could this be the day? Trying to sit still and finish breakfast is absolutely torturous! Hardly a word is spoken as I wait on pins and needles for the adults to finish 'one more cup of coffee' and another piece of toast.
   On Grandpa's heals I follow to gather the ax and saw..extra work gloves..a pair for each of us. His old blue truck rumbles down the gravel roads as we head off to the woods. Most of the prairie is flat, but here and there are beautiful wooded areas where the men go hunting and morel mushrooms are harvested..but today is not about those things..no today is all about the trek.
   Clomping and stomping we head through the snow..my small boots trying to keep in his tracks. It is hard to see between the woolen cap and scarf warming my face- but I love the sparkle of the snow in the glittering light. He looks back at me- blue eyes shining- as an occasional chuckle escapes him. Together we search..no words are spoken..we just know..soon we'll find the right one.
   Destiny brings us to the spot..the perfect place with just the right one; tall and bright, smelling oh so good. I hold the saw as his mighty ax makes the first few cuts. It is my job to saw a bit- I'm small enough to fit right under even the lowest branches- so this job is just right for me. With a crackle and whoosh, the mighty tree falls; for just a moment sadness grips me as I realize this tree will never be here again. He comforts me..reminding me that in taking one we make room for others; he always knows just what to say. Together we take hold the branches- he on one side, me on the other- dragging the tree back to the truck; I don't remember the walk being so far before.
   The ride back to the farmhouse is quiet; the hum of the heater as it blows- Grandpa places my hands near the vent to be sure I warm them good. We talk of lumps of coal in my stocking as he tries to question my goodness for the year. Laughter and teasing make the ride seem short, but the warmth of the house will be welcome!
   Inside the big warm kitchen smells of good things; beef stew and biscuits and cocoa to sip! My uncle has arrived to help set up the tree...they work on that while I get warmer (reminding me one more time that I might catch my death if I don't stay warm and dry).
  Slipping from my seat I tip toe around the doorway and gaze at the beautiful tree. My mind wanders to the boxes and boxes of ornaments and tinsel, the angel and the lights--how exciting this will be! Yes, it was worth it...the wait, the cold, the long walk through the woods...deep in my heart I store away the beautiful memory of Grandpa and me and the marvelous trek.