Home for the Holidays, by Thomas Kincaid

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sweet Friends,

First of all, I am grateful to my sweet friend, Trish, who allowed me to copy the above picture from her blog site. It is a plaque that was given to her late mother when she was young. I fell in love with it because it has one of my favorite scriptures on it. Thanks, Trish.

Actually, I've been doing a lot of trusting in the Lord this week. In fact, I prayed and fasted one day this week in order to feel closer to Him that usual, and to receive guidance and direction. I am grateful to say that I did feel an increase in His Spirit and received a "minor" miracle, which I won't go into here. But I am deeply grateful for that blessing this week.

Another blessing was that I had a wonderful lunch on Friday with my sweet blog friend, Beth, from Aunties with Advice. She blogged about it HERE. (Alas, my camera is still broken, so I can't add any of my own photos). We found out that we live in the same town here in Utah, so we got together and talked and talked. It was wonderful. She also gave me some very sweet Pay-It-Forward gifts that I treasure. Thank you, Beth!

Sunday, March 1st, I am designating "Pocket Change" day...To remind you what that is, read HERE. I am encouraging everyone to save their pocket change through the month and then use it to bless someone's life and then share what you did and inspire us.

Hoping you have a great Sabbath!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spring Is In the Air!

Hello, Sweet Friends!

This is just quick post. I have been having awful trouble the past 48 hours with not being able to upload photos on Blogger. I wonder what the trouble was!

Anyway...Friends, it is beautiful outside! Almost all of the snow is gone from our yard, just a trace amount out back. The temps have been in the 60's (I think) and there are sweet birdie chirping outside. It's not Spring yet, but at least I am full of hope!

I have been making and decorating spring baskets and nests. Before my camera broke yesterday (aargh!), I took a few pictures of what I'm doing...

The quality of the eggs I bought at the craft store is not very good, so I'm going to look elsewhere for better ones. But you get the idea. Today, I'm going to get some dried flowers and add to my baskets...

If Mark gets paid Friday like he's suppose to, I'm going to get a camera. I haven't bought anything for myself in a long while and I love to take pictures for my blog and for my family.

Have a great day. Think Spring-y thoughts!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fun Day Crafting and Chatting

Aah, Tuesdays...That is the day that I clear my schedule in the afternoon so I can get together with my sweet friends, Teri and Kathy, to craft and chat (Sometimes I chat more than I craft, but that goes without saying!). Teri is an expert knitter and she taught Kathy and me to knit. So far, Kathy is doing better than me because she can pearl. Pearling scares the heck out of me because I get in enough trouble just knitting. It's fun, though!

Today, I gathered my supplies together and, inspired by the unusually warm temps (62???), I made little bird nests out of various materials I had on hand...

[I have photos of all this, but goofy Blogger isn't working. Aargh! Maybe tomorrow!]

..We worked on our projects and chatted. We talked about our favorite movie these days, "Twilight".

[Again, I would normally insert a picture here, but it won't work....]

When I first saw my sweet Sarah come home from school (she takes Math at Middle School and is homeschooled for the rest) with a copy of the book "Twilight", I took one look at the front cover - a girl's hands holding an apple (which could mean...anything) - and I thought, "Okay, I'm reading this one!" So, I sat down to read what I thought would be a boring book and, oh boy, I was hooked in the first chapter!

Okay, okay, it isn't "East of Eden", but I don't care, because as much as I admire great literature, this book just spoke to the girl in me and I LOVED it! I proceeded to read all four books in the series and waited for the movie to come out. Sarah and I went to one of the first showings of "Twilight" and really liked it. Teri and Kathy have seen it 6 times. I have now only seen it twice, but, next crafting Tuesday, we three have a date at the Dollar Theater to see it again! (with maybe some Indian food beforehand???)

Woohoo! Cheap Thrill. But what fun!

Well, it is late so I will end for now...So, my big thought for the day is how much more wonderful a week is when one engages in creative pursuits and when a good laugh can be had with friends!

God bless,

Monday, February 23, 2009

Menu Planning Monday

Hello, Ladies!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend. We sure did, but it flew by quickly. Today, Mark begins in earnest working at his new job. Our first paycheck from this job should be at the end of the week and, boy, am I excited about that (might just have to go thrifting!).

Okay, so for Menu Planning Monday (link) today, I am having the following this week:

Monday - Spaghetti and Meat sauce, tossed salad and pineapple sherbet

Tuesday - Maple Pork Chops, mashed potatoes, carrots and broccoli

Wednesday - Homemade Chicken Soup, mixed fruit salad

Thursday - Lasagna Rolls, garlic bread and salad

Friday - Leftovers

Saturday - Taco Salad, fruit and ice cream

This week, I will be adding beans to a number of my recipes: Chicken Soup, leftovers (ha) and Taco Salad. I find it most affordable to use dry beans. These are very tasty when prepared properly. Plus, this helps with rotating my food storage.

For those of you who have never used dry beans...Following are instructions for preparing them properly. Once you get the hang of always cooking some at the beginning of each week, you will always have some on hand to add to your recipes. This will stretch your grocery budget, add fiber to your diet and will allow you to build a long-term food storage for your family, if you are interested in doing that.

First, sort through the dried beans for anything that doesn't look like a bean (I rarely find anything foreign, but once I found a little pebble).

Next step is to put them in a big pot and cover beans with water. Swish around to clean the beans.

Rinse the beans under cold water ...
Continue this process until the rinse water comes out clean...
Discard water and then re-fill pot...
1 T. of Salt
1 T. Sugar
1 T. veggie oil
I then slow cook the beans either all day or all night. 8 hours later, they are very tender and ready to use in salads, soups, meat mixtures or just by themselves! Enjoy!
My cat, Sunny wanted to say Hello and to wish you a happy day!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Happy Sabbath

"None of us is wise enough to make it on our own.
We need the help, the wisdom, the guidance of the Almighty in reaching those decisions that are so tremendously important in our lives.
There is no substitute for prayer.
There is no greater resource."
--President Gordon B. Hinckley


Friday, February 20, 2009

Show and Tell Friday

Okay, Ladies,

For my Show & Tell today, I am showing you a new thrift store find from yesterday. It is a "Shabby Chic" coffee table. I love the shape and quality of this table, but the problem is my house colors are sage green and (right now, for Winter) burgundy. For Spring it will be sage green and pink and blue. What the heck color should I paint this table? White doesn't match very well. All the rest of my furniture is walnut finished, accept a few accent pieces that are a light sage green. What do you think? Should paint it cream or green? Something else?

Please weigh in and let me know what you think! I wish that the color of my sofa looked better in these photos. It's really pretty green, but it looks more drab here. Oh, well.

Please check out There Is No Place Like Home, for the other Show and Tells!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My heart is very full of gratitude today for some recent blessings. Several days ago, while I was praying, I had a very strong feeling that I would soon be in contact with someone from whom I've been separated for a very long time. This was one of the closest friends of my life with whom I had a misunderstanding some 12 years ago. I have prayed about this situation many times over the years and believed that this problem would never be resolved in my lifetime. Then, several days ago, I had a strong feeling that I would be communicating with this person again soon. I didn't see how that could be, but I couldn't help feeling excited at the potential prospect. Yesterday, she contacted me. It came out of the blue and I was astounded when it happened. Our first communications have been sweet. I don't really know where any of this will go, but I am so r.e.l.i.e.v.e.d. I exhaled 12 1/2 years of hurt yesterday. It has left me exhausted and at peace.

I am so astounded by the Lord's ability to hear our thoughts and the longings of our hearts and then to answer so generously the presumed unanswerable. What can I say? What can one say to that? My heart resounds with gratitude. The words "thank you" are not enough to express to our dear Lord the feelings of my heart. My soul sings a wordless hymn, because words are not equal to how I am feeling.

I am also deeply grateful because a job prospect that my husband wants with all his heart is looking stronger and stronger. We will know for sure March 1st, but I am feeling greater confidence that all will be well for us.

How do I close this? I am still so...relieved. I feel like I could jump and sing and sleep for one hundred years, all at the same time.

Praise the name of Him who is above all and still tender and personal enough to reach down and touch a single soul in its quiet yearnings.

We are truly blessed.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Menu Planning Monday

It's Menu Planning Monday again! Be sure to check out all the wonderful menus HERE (and a fun Giveaway!).

Monday - Beef and Veggie Stir-Fry with Basmati Rice

Tuesday - Jambalaya & Organic Sausage, Tossed Salad

Wednesday - Turkey with all the trimmings!

Thursday - Taco Soup

Friday - Lasagna Roll-Ups

Saturday - Leftovers!

Check back later for fun pictures of new thrift store finds!

Now, off I go with the children!

Happy Valentines Day!

I thought you might enjoy having a look at our family Valentine's Day supper...

We had a bubbly drink (club soda & grape juice concentrate), croissants...
...surprise treats...
...young asparagus...
...sirloin tip steaks...
..baked potatoes and goodies...
Afterwards, the boys and I played the game of "Life".
Happy Valentine's Day!!
And have a lovely Sabbath!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Show and Tell Friday

Years ago, while I was attending university, I lived in the basement apartment of a retired couple. Around the corner from us, resided my friend, Ruth, her parents and maternal grandmother, Ruth Deringer (known as "Grannie"). Over the years while I was living there, I came to know Grannie very well. She was nearly blind, so our relationship began with my reading to her most days. Then, I noticed whenever I was with Ruth, that Grannie spent a lot of time playing Solitaire. Soon my visits to her included her teaching me Solitaire and watching me play. During our times together, Grannie would tell me about her wonderful life spent all over the world, as she moved with her engineer husband to various jobs. In her homes, she entertained the famous and the infamous. She also told me about her girlhood spent in Mexico with her father and about how one day Pancho Villa's men tried to surround her when she was out for a ride, and how she took her horse and ran at full gallop straight at them. At the last minute, they parted their horses to let her through, waving their hats in the air and shouing "Viva la Senorita!!", so impressed were they by her spunk.

On one of her travels to the Middle East, Grannie's husband, Bing, took her to the Taj Mahal, in India, the wonderful memorial to one man's love for his wife. While they were there, Bing bought Grannie a beautiful silk shawl, embroidered with real spun gold thread.

On my last birthday before leaving University, I celebrated with Ruth at her house. I noticed that Grannie kept coming out of her room to look at me. Finally, Ruth presented me with a gift from Grannie, I opened the box and, lo and behold, there was Grannie's silk scarf from Bing. On top of the beautiful masterpiece was her calling card, which read...

"Happy Birthday. To my real friend. Love, Grannie."

I ran into Grannie's room to thank her for the beautiful gift. I promised her that I would take good care of it.

"Wear it as much as you want." She said. And then she held up her two fingers, crossed them and said, "You and I are like this."

Grannie died years ago. Her birthday greeting is stained and yellowed with age. The beautiful shawl is lovingly kept in my keepsakes drawer. Occasionally, I take it out to look at it and think of my dear, old friend in her worn, polyester pant suits and her regal bearing. No one would have guessed by looking at her what an incredible life she had. But in my heart she is that young, daring horsewoman of old.

"Viva La Senorita!!"

To visit over Show and Tells, please go to There Is No Place Like Home.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Miracles Wrought with Pocket Change

One of the things I enjoyed most about this past Christmas season was the opportunity to focus so much of my time and effort on giving to others. What a sweet experience that was for me this past year. Wanting to give not just to those I knew but to also be of benefit outside of my extended family and friends, I devised a little scheme to be sure that I had a little something extra to share at a time when our family was financially strapped. Whenever I was out and about I made sure to pay cash for everything, instead of using my debit card or checks. All of my pocket change I saved in, well,... my pocket! Then, whenever I passed by one of the umpteen Salvation Army workers with their little red buckets outside my favorite stores, I'd drop that extra change inside. I did this over and over and over again. I later figured that during the month of December, I donated quite a nice sum to that local charity!

Not to miss out on any of the fun the rest of the year, I've been saving up that pocket change in this nifty little jar...

Nothing fancy, there!

At the end of every month, I count up the change, deposit it in my account and then write a check to one of my favorite charities. It is amazing how much a little bit everyday adds up to a substantial gift!

I have several favorite charities that I would like to share with you:

1) The Christian Appalachian Project
Appalachia runs from Southern New York down through Northern Mississippi. It was originally settled in the 1700s by Europeans and some Africans looking for freedom and opportunity. These settlers were extremely independent and often isolated from the rest of the country. This area is rich in traditions but encompasses some of the worst poverty in our nation. The Christian Appalachian Project administers financial, temporal and spiritual relief to the people of this area, building stronger communities one person/one family at a time. Please visit their site and consider helping as you can.

2) The Nature Conservancy
"The Nature Conservancy's mission is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive."

Decades before "Environmentalism" became a fashionable term, my mother raised my sister and me to treat the earth and all of God's creations with tenderness and sensitivity. She was concerned with over-development of rural areas, the de-forestation of her beloved North Carolina and any wanton destruction of animals' natural habitats. She believed in living gently on the land. Upon her death, my sister and I opened a memorial donation fund in her honor.

If someday you make a donation to them, would you kindly consider doing so under my mother's name:

Member #11912294
Address: 4 Pelham Green West, Waynesboro, VA 22980
The words "Tribute donation in memory of Kathleen Melvin Atkinson"

3) Christian Childrens Fund
Sponsor a child from various countries of the world. Receive regular updates on how they are doing. Surprisingly affordable!

* * *
Ladies, I'm so excited about this that I'm going to sponsor Pocket Change Miracles. On the last day of every month, I will provide a Mr. Linky and I would like to encourage everyone to share your stories of how your pocket change went to help someone in need.

Well, I've got to run for now, but there will be more on this later.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Commitment to Loveliness, Menu Planning Monday, Update

Dear, Sweet Friends,

I am still playing catch up from the week when I was flat on my back. My goodness, how things fell apart! So today, instead of printing out my menu for the week, I'm providing you with a link to Laura's Menu Planning Monday post and you can peruse those menus to your heart's desire. Many of the people who submit posts through Mr. Linky there include links to the recipes. Great stuff!

Also, today is the first time participating in A Commitment to Loveliness which is being hosted over at Charming The Birds From The Trees (see sidebar). My five things are:
1) Make homemade valentines
2) Have candlelight dinner with my family tonight
3) Take the time to have my hair trimmed
4) Search out a nice new hair color
5) Give myself a manicure tonight

As for an update on our situation, My husband is still looking for work, after trying out a job that was straight commission only. He has two wonderful possibilities this month. Either one would be great for us. We appreciate your prayers!

Well, I hope you have a wonderful day. I apologize for not getting around to visit for awhile. It's been really difficult recently. However, I will get to at least some of you today.

Love to all,

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Show and Tell Friday

Hey, Ladies!

Welcome to Show and Tell Friday, hosted by Kelli at There's No Place Like Home. Today, I am sharing two of my favorite art prints from my home...

Below is a beautiful picture of a bride, signing the church registry on her wedding day. This was originally a gift bag that was given to me during my lovely bridal shower. I loved the picture so much that I had it matted and framed. Now, it hangs above my bureau in the master bedroom.
The next picture I recently found in a thrift store for $5 and, I swear, it looks like new.
I'm sorry that the quality of the photos isn't very good, but I did the best I could. Anyway, I love Romantic Era art. It is so beautiful to me.

I hope that you have a great day today.
God bless,

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hello, Again!!

Hello, Dear Friends,

I am overjoyed to say that I am back from my illness and feeling absolutely fantastic!! I am thankful for your prayers and also for the helpfulness of friends and neighbors who rallied round while I was down and out.

So, what was the first thing on my agenda after being in bed for a week? Why cleaning, of course! But, first, I needed a little Thrift Shop Therapy! Off I went to my favorite re-sell shop and found the following lovelies...These are just a few of the wonderful items I found.

This small, fit-in-the-palm-of-your-hand-sized basket and the coconut will hold birdnests for spring...
This tiny prism will also hold a Spring time theme...

Here is a beautiful sequined frame, a gift for someone dear...
And a lovely saying, just in time for Valentine's Day...
It says:
"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart;
And sings it to you when you forget the words.?"

Have a lovely day today. I will be visiting blogs today, so give me time if I haven't gotten to your yet.