Home for the Holidays, by Thomas Kincaid

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The shrill wind blew about the house
And through the pines all night:
The snowflakes whirled across the fields
And hid the fence from sight.

By dawn the drifts had blown so deep
No horse nor sleigh could go:
The dog-house and the chicken-coops
Were buried in the snow.

There was no thought of school that day;
We worked with shovels all,
And cleared a path from house to barn;
The snow was like a wall.

I wished our house was covered up,
Like that one in the book
My Grandma showed to me one day
Beside the chimney-nook.

The story said the chimney-pot
Just showed above the snow,
And all day long the lamps were lit
Down in the house below.
~ K. Pyle

New Years


That is sparkling cider in those glasses up there! We will be drinking plenty of that tonight, while toasting the New Year.

I am wishing everyone in Blogland a wonderful, blessed New Year. May you have loved ones around you and the peace of God to grace your homes and your hearts tonight and always!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy 5th Day of Christmas

Things have been quiet here in my little corner of Blogland since Christmas. We have been enjoying the Season together as a family. I know that for a lot of people these days Christmas is over as soon as the 25th is passed, but we celebrate until at least January 1st, sometimes going all the way to the 6th of January and "Old Christmas", as my mother used to call it, when the three wise men visited the Christ Child. Mama said that in the "old days" Santa visited on Christmas Eve, but the exchange of presents accured on Old Christmas. We are of largely Scottish heritage, so I am assuming that this must come from the British Isles. This is also where the 12 days of Christmas comes from. The first day is the 25th and the 12th day is January 6th.

Anyone else heard of "Old Christmas"?

So, we are still playing Christmas music and reading Christmas stories. Today, we are making Christmas cookies, using the same cutters my sister and I used in our childhoods. Fun traditions, passed on....

What are you doing to keep the Season alive?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Eve

Yes, you heard right! We attended Christmas Eve Eve last night at the home of my sister-in-law's sister, Karen. Karen is one of my favorite decorators in the whole world, so I went around her home taking pictures, many of which did not turn out. But here are a few that have. First the above painting is one that Karen did of their home. It is above the door in the livingroom. Isn't she amazing?I love the following grouping of little snowmen. Aren't they whimsical?

Here is another painting Karen did over her front door...
I'm sorry that my pictures are grainy. I didn't use enough flash. Anyway, just love, love, love these wreaths strung on rough wood.
Formal diningroom table setting. Love the homemade candle holders with ribbons.

Here is lovely Karen and sweet daughter. Wish more of my photos of everyone had turned out. Cathy's family are some of my favorite people. They are all wonderful!

Leaving you with one last shot, this one of a sweet nativity scene. Let Him In!
Merry Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A December Wedding

Here are some photos from a lovely winter wedding I attended this past week...

The brother of my Sarah's dear friend Brooklyn, married a sweet girl from our church congregation...
Here are Lance and Samantha, the happy couple.

The lovely dress...

A view of the back...

The bridesmaids dress...modest and chic.

Shelley, the mother of the groom...

Jin, the mother of the bride...

Brookie caught the bouquet...

Sarah caught the posies that fell from the bouquet...

The scene from outside the window from the reception...The Salt Lake LDS Temple, where Lance and Samantha were married.

Congratz to the happy couple!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Show and Tell Friday

Hello, Sweet Friends and Visitors,

I hope your Christmas Season is going smoothly and that you are filled with the love of Christ.

Today, I am showing you some of my favorite Christmas ornaments. For years, most of my ornaments were homemade, salt dough, dried orange and apple slices, popcorn and cranberry garland. Over the years, though, we've been able to snatch up some store bought decorations at great prices (usually after Christmas). Following are some of my favorites!

Oh, how I love this first one. It is so lovely with the lights behind it.Two more that I love so well...

And what Christmas Tree would be complete without a star on top?

For a full view of our tree, please see the top of my sidebar.
That is it for now!
For more Show and Tell Friday posts, please visit Cindy, at My Romantic Home.

God bless,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Ever Pumpkin Bread (No Eggs!)

Want a marvelously moist and delicious quick bread, but are worried about the cholesterol in most recipes? Try this eggless pumpkin bread. It is perfect for gift giving this Season...if you can keep your family from eating all up! :)


3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
2 c. packed dark brown sugar
2/3 c. white sugar
2 c. pumpkin puree
1 c. veggie oil
2/3 milk
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two bread pans.

Combine flour, brown sugar, white sugar, pumpkin puree, oil, milk, baking soda, salt, ground nutmeg and cinnamon. Mix until smooth batter. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, begin testing with toothpick. Depending on oven, bread may take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour 15. When done, take out of oven and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to steam for 10 minutes. Then, remove foil and turn onto cooling rack. Cool completely.

This is the most moist bread I have ever made.

HINTS: For a lower fat version, fill your measuring cup 1/4 full of applesauce before filling with oil (for one c. oil).

Add chocolate chips to batter, for a twist.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Story

The following story was given to me in college by one of my professors. It has become a favorite story to share with my family at Christmas...

In One Blinding Moment
by Max Ellerbusch

I was in my instrument repair shop, working feverishly so that I could have all the Christmas holiday at home with my family. Then the phone rang and a voice was saying that our five-year-old Craig had been hit by a car.

There was a crowd standing around him by the time I go there, but they stepped back for me. Craig was lying in the middle of the road; his curly blond hair was not even rumpled.
He died at Children's Hospital that afternoon.

There were many witnesses. It had happened at the school-crossing. They told us that Craig had waited on the curb until the safety-patrol boy signaled him to cross. Craig, how well you remembered. How often your mother called after you as you started off for kindergarten, "Don't cross till you get the signal." You didn't forget.

The signal came, Craig stepped into the street. The car came so fast no one had seen it. The patrol boy shouted, waved, had to jump for his own life. The car never stopped.

Grace and I drove home from the hospital through the Christmas-lighted streets, not believing what had happened to us. It wasn't until night, passing the unused bed, that I knew. Suddenly I was crying, not just for that empty bed but for the emptiness, the senselessness of life itself. All night long, with Grace awake beside me, I searched what I know of life for some hint of a loving God at work in it, and found none.

As a child I certainly had been led to expect none. My father used to say that in all his childhood he did not experience one act of charity or Christian kindness. Father was an orphan, growing up in 19th century Germany, a supposedly Christian land. orphans were rented out to farmers as machines are rented today, and treated with far less consideration. He grew into a stern, brooding man who looked upon life as an unassisted journey to the grave.

He married another orphan and, as their own children started to come, they decided to emigrate to America. Father got a job aboard a ship; in New York harbor he went ashore and simply kept going. . He stopped in Cincinnati where so many Germans were then settling. He took every job he could find, and in a year and a half had saved enough money to send for his family.

On the boat coming over, two of my sisters contracted scarlet fever; they died on Ellis Island. Something in Mother died with them, for from that day on she showed no affection for any living being. I grew up in a silent house, without laughter, without faith.

Later, in my own married life. I was determined not to allow those grim shadows to fall on our own children. Grace and I had four: Diane, Michael, Craig and Ruth Carol. It was Craig, even more than the others, who seemed to lay low my childhood pessimism to tell me that the world was a wonderful and purposeful place.

As a baby he would smile so delightedly at everyone he was that there was always a little group around his carriage. When we went visiting it was Craig, three years old, who would run to the hostess and say, "You have a lovely house." If the received a gift he was touched to tears, and then gave it away to the first child who envied it. Sunday morning when Grace dressed to sing in the choir, it was Craig who never forgot to say, "You're beautiful."

And if such a child can die, I though as I fought my bed that Friday night, if such a life can be snuffed out in a minute, then life is meaningless and faith in God is self-delusion. By morning my hopelessness and helplessness had found a target, a blinding hatred for the person who had done this to us. That morning police picked him up in Tennessee: George Williams. Fifteen years old.

He came from a broken home, police learned. His mother worked a night shift and slept during the day. Friday he had skipped school, taken her car keys while she was asleep, sped down a street....All my rage at a senseless universe seemed to focus on the name George Williams. I phoned our lawyer and begged him to prosecute Williams to the limit. "Get him tried as an adult, juvenile court is not tough enough."

So this was my frame of mind when the thing occurred which changed my life. I cannot explain it, I can only describe it.

It happened in the space of time that it takes to walk two steps. It was late Saturday night. I was pacing the hall outside our bedroom, my head in my hands. I felt sick and dizzy, and tired, so tired. "Oh God," I prayed, "Show me why."

Right then, between that step and the next, my life was changed. The breathe went out of me in a great sigh--and with it all the sickness. In its place was a feeling of love and joy so strong it was almost pain.

Other men have called it "the presence of Christ." I'd known the phrase, of course, but I'd thought it was some abstract, theological idea. I never dreamed it was someone, and actual Person, filling that narrow hall with love.

It was the suddenness of it that dazed me. It was like a lightning stroke that turned out to be the dawn. I stood blinking in an unfamiliar light. Vengefulness, grief, hate, anger--it was not that I struggled to be ride o them--like goblins imagined in the dark, in morning's light they simply were not there.

And all the while I had the extraordinary felling that I was two people. I had another self, a self that was millions of miles from that hall, learning things men don't y et have words to express. I have tried so often to remember the things I knew then, but the learning seemed to take place in a mind apart from the one I ordinarily think with, as though the answer to my question was too vast for my small intellect.

But, in that mind beyond logic, that question was answered. In that instant I knew why Craig had to leave us. Though I had no visual sensation, I knew afterward that I had met him, and he was wiser than I, so that I was the little boy and he the man. And he was so busy. Craig had so much to do, unimaginable important things into which I must not inquire. My concerns were still on earth.

In the clarity of that moment it came to me: this life is a simple thing. I remember the very words in which the thought came. "Life is a grade in school' in this grade we must learn only one lesson: we must establish relationships of love."

"Oh, Craig," I thought. "Little Craig, in your five short years how fast you learned, how quickly you progressed, how soon you graduated."

I don't know how long I stood there in the hall. Perhaps it was no time at all as we ordinarily measure things. Grace was sitting up in bed when I reached the door or our room...Not reading, not doing anything, just looking straight ahead of her as she had much of the time since Friday afternoon.

Even my appearance must have changed because as she turned her eyes slowly to me she gave a little gasp and sat up straighter. I started to talk, words tumbling over each other, laughing, eager, trying to say that the world was not an accident, that life meant something, that earthly tragedy was not the end, that all around our incompleteness was a universe of purpose, that the purpose was good beyond our furthest hopes.

"Tonight," I told her," "Craig is beyond needing us. Someone else needs us; "George Williams. It's almost Christmas. Maybe at the Juvenile Detention Home, there will be no Christmas gift for him unless we send it."

Grace listened, silent, unmoving, staring at me. Suddenly she burst into tears. "Yes," she said, "That's right, that's right. It's the first thing that's been right since Craig died."

And it has been right. George turned out to be an intelligent confused, desperately lonely boy, needing a father as much as I needed a son. He got his gift, Christmas Day, and his mother got a box of Grace's good Christmas cookies. We asked for and got his release, a few days later, and this house became his second home. He works with me in the shop after school, Joins for meals around the kitchen table, is a big brother for Diane and Michael and Ruth Carol.

But more was changed, in that moment when I met Christ then just my feeling about George. That meeting has affected every phase of my life, my approach to business, to friends, to strangers. I don't mean I've been able to sustain the ecstasy of that moment; I doubt that the human body could contain such joy for every many days.

But I now now with infinite sureness that no matter what life does to us in the future, I will never again touch the rock bottom of despair. No matter how ultimate the blow seems, I glimpsed an even more ultimate joy that blinding moment when the door swung wide.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Favorite Ornaments

Hello, Sweet Friends!

Today I'm sharing some of my favorite ornaments. They are a lovely china miniature tea set from Hallmark.
I decorate in burgundy, green and creme, so they are just perfect for my tree.
Isn't the tea pot precious? Here is one of the plates...
And one final shot of a silly pussycat who loves laying on the decorations before I put them to use.
For Beautiful Life Friday, se Melissa's The Inspired Room posts, and for more Show and Tell Friday, See Cindi's blog, My Romantic Home.

Happy Decorating!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window...it is cold and snowy.

I am thinking of...today's many tasks, some fun and some not so fun. :)

I am thankful for... a warm home and warm memories.

From the learning rooms... are Christmas books and stories, some from my childhood.

From the kitchen... Oh, please don't mention the kitchen. I need to clean it and cook today!

I am wearing...warm jammies, but I need to change into something pretty and cozy.

I am creating... order out of chaos, beauty out of piles of decorations, a holiday home that is warm and inviting.

I am going... to play music while I work to keep my mind busy and to give me a little energy boost.

I am reading... BLOGS today! and perhaps a Christmas story.

I am hoping... I will be equal to the tasks of the day

I am hearing...cars going by on a slushy road and my husband's voice on business calls.

Around the house... Oh, dear, I need to unpack from our trip, clean and decorate.

One of my favorite things...working on tasks in a quiet house.

A few plans for the rest of the week... get a Christmas Tree, wrap gifts, enjoy family time, bake, bake, bake!

Here is a picture thought I am thinking..

I am thinking of our recent trip to California and our visit with Bob. Bob has been one of my closest friends for 26 years. He was my neighbor during most of my single years in Los Angeles and we continued our sweet friendship for all of the years afterwards. He is one of the best friends of my entire life. Now, he is 93 and dying of cancer. We visited him this past weekend to see him for the last time. Despite his pain and discomfort, he still had his sense of humor intact. I didn't cry during the visit, I had prayed that I wouldn't do that. But I could barely leave him.

I am thankful to the Lord for the wonderful friendships of my life, especially for my Bob. He will always be remembered by me and my family until we are reunited once again in the Great Beyond.

Have a great day!


Friday, December 4, 2009

Beginnings of Christmas in the Master Bedroom

I'm a little bit late posting these pictures of my beginning attempts to add some holiday cheer to the master bedroom.

Here a wreath, which normally would grace our front door is cheerfully hanging above our bed, with a creme-coloured Winter sign just below. Here is a better view of our bed with the wreath above. We love to decorate the master bedroom with whites on creme. We have a lot more we'd like to do in there, but this is how it is so far.
Atop the double dresser, some gold votive candle holders and three charming wax snowmen, all in creme trimmed with gold.
Aren't they cuties?

Well, that's it for me and my posting for both Show and Tell Friday (for more posts see Cindy's blog at My Romantic Home) and Beautiful Friday at the Inspired Room.
We are currently visiting in California. A dear friend is dying of cancer and we are here to say our good-byes. God bless this dear gentleman!
God bless you!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Bedrooms

This year, I am re-thinking all of my Christmas decorating and putting festive touches in rooms that I don't usually decorate. For instance, the bedroom...I went to one of my favorite sites for inspiration, Country Living Magazine .

Don't the lovely greens above beautifully frame this romatic bed?
Oh, how I love white and these small, white wreaths are just the perfect touch!
Well, the above bedroom is a bit busy and stuffed full of...well, STUFF for my tastes.
This child's room has just the right amount of Christmas decor/ Doesn't it look warm and cozy?
How about you? Do you decorate your master bedroom and/or other rooms pf your house, or just the room that holds your tree?
Look for photos on Friday of own house.
God Bless,