Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Nothing else needed

This year I saw a lovely idea on my blog friend Sandi's blog, Rose Chintz Cottage.  You will find more than one lovely idea there.  Sandi has some of the most beautiful decorating ideas you will see, and Rose Chintz Cottage is well worth visiting every week for Sandi's Tea Time Tuesdays.  You would also love Sandi's Christmas blog, Christmas Pudding, which is the most beautiful Christmas blog I have seen.

Back to the idea I saw -- it was very simple.  In front of her nativity scene, Sandi had placed a little New Testament open to Luke 2.  Why have I never thought of doing this before?  The little Bible is a powerful reminder that the scene depicted in the rustic stable is a true account.  It isn't a fairy tale.  It really happened, to real people, to make a difference in the lives of real people.

So, as you can see above, I found a little New Testament on my bookshelves, bookmarked it to Luke 2 and placed it in front of our creche.  The stable was built by my father many years ago, and the little figures were given to us with it.  I hope someday to replace the figures with some nicer ones, but for now this is what we have.

Ever since doing this, I have been thinking that the scene "needs"something else.  A star, maybe (not a bad idea; Sandi has one, and after all the star is a big part of the story); or some greenery and maybe a small candle or some white lights.  I may add some of those things next year, as I think they might add to the specialness of the scene.  But as I thought about it from day to day, I was reminded that nothing else is needed.  This depiction points out that Jesus came to earth as a Baby, to grow up, to die on a cross for our sins, to make a way for us to be right with a holy God.  He was truly born to die.  The Gospel story is more than enough.  We only need to accept that free gift of salvation to become part of God's family.  Nothing else needs to be added. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A fun after-Christmas buy

One of the house lights
My hubby and I are not "shop until you drop" type people.  Only rarely will you find one of us at a Black Friday sale, and our world does not fall apart if we can't make it to an after-Christmas clearance.  Still, we enjoy checking the clearance sales if we happen to be in a particular store or in the vicinity of one.

Marshalls is one store that I will check the after-Christmas clearance in if it works out.  We like to pick up holiday coffee and freeze it.  This year we only found one type -- peppermint bark -- but we did pick up a bag.  I also found some sweet little gifts that will be perfect to include in a friend's Christmas package next year. 

So we only picked up a few items, but our favorite is this string of little house lights.
the label from the package
The lights strung above our photo wall
We found it impossible to get a good photo of the whole string.  You just cannot see the detail of these cute little houses.  I think they are made from balsa wood; from some light, thin wood, anyway, and are obviously laser-cut so light shines from the doors, windows, and trim.  They are battery-operated so you could put them anywhere.  Best of all, they would be appropriate to use at any time of year, not just Christmas!
Another close-up of one of the houses
Hope you've enjoyed this look at our after-Christmas find!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Our newest lighted house

This shows the base of our tree with some of the lighted houses around it.
For quite a few years we would buy the Christmas lighted houses when we could find them on clearance.  We didn't (and don't) buy the expensive villages like Dept. 56, but just inexpensive houses from Jo-Ann Fabrics and other places.  We just like to set up a few of the houses under our Christmas tree.  Later, after we take the tree down, we will leave the houses up for most of the winter.  They add a cheery and wintry glow!

Last spring when we were in Nevada, our daughter and son-in-law gave us an early (or late, depending on how you look at it): a new lighted house for our collection.  It's a dog bone bakery!
I think you can click on the picture to enlarge it and see the details.
Mr. T has sort of a collection of dog-themed items that various friends have given him over the years.  Our family thought this bakery was a perfect fit for him.  It certainly is an unusual and fun addition to our collection of lighted houses!

Friday, December 26, 2014

They don't make 'em like they used to

A scan of my December/January 1996 Taste of Home
Every couple of months, I like to get out my stash of older Taste of Home magazines for the particular season we're in.  I do this with my Cook & Tell newsletters as well, and invariably I find some neat recipes I had forgotten about, or ones I had meant to try and never got around to.

This year I apparently have been busy as the seasons have changed.  I got out my August/September issues and that was it.

Yesterday I went hunting for a squash recipe I wanted to try for Christmas dinner.  I found, surprisingly, that I had not gotten out my Christmas Taste of Homes (or, for that matter, the October/November ones).  I did so, then and there, and quickly located the recipe I had in mind.  It was delicious, too, and I will share the link on my other blog.

As I browsed through the stack of issues, I decided I would leave these out for awhile and go through them slowly to enjoy them again.  It struck me how beautiful the covers were on those older issues, how they just invited a person to open the magazine and be inspired by the recipes and even the decorating ideas to be gleaned from the photos.  Sort of like the Ideals of cooking magazines.  I was reminded of  how eagerly I awaited my December/January issues and how I could hardly wait to open them and see all the great ideas people had shared for Christmas cooking and baking.  I thought I would share a few of these lovely covers with you.  I would imagine the back issues may be found for sale online somewhere.
December/January 2002
 Doesn't that just make you want to bake some festive yeast breads for kitchen gifts next year?
December/January 2003
Cookies, cookies and more cookies!  Even though my freezer is fully stocked with a variety of Christmas cookies, I'm always up for trying a new recipe!
December/January 1997
If, like me, you have a stash of Taste of Home back issues, why not get them out now and browse through them?  I'll be making a list of recipes to try for next Christmas.  You might like to join me!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Image from
Mr. T and I would like to warmly wish each of our friends a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy 2015!

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."
(Luke 2:11)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmasy goals for this week

From a childhood Little Golden Book
I still have a few Christmasy goals to accomplish, mostly crafting but a few kitchen tasks as well. 

Yesterday I finished up some gluten free sacher torte cookies (just a few) for myself and dipped another bag of orange slices.  Also made up some cinnamon pretzels and packaged some homemade hot chocolate mix.

The last of the Christmas packages went out yesterday, though I do have a couple of New Year packages I will be sending.  I think the last of the cards went into the mail this morning.  I think we are pretty much done with Christmas baking, too, although one never knows.  There is one kind of fudge we're running low on as we included it in packages and a gift basket, so Mr. T may be making more of that.

This morning I did a bit more decorating, and do have just a bit more of that to do.  I'd like to decorate the porch a little bit more too.  Or maybe the lighted wreath will suffice!

So my goals for this week include:

* Putting the finishing touches on three small gifts
* Wrapping the rest of the gifts
* Possibly sending a few more cards
* Preparing Christmas Eve supper
* Straightening up the house, spiffing up bathrooms, etc.
* Planning and preparing a nice Christmas breakfast
* Preparing Christmas dinner
* Celebrating with family and friends!

Friday, December 19, 2014

A new-to-me Christmas candy -- Chocolate Dipped Orange Slices

photo pinned from Christmas Tree Lane
Awhile ago, I spied the above photo on my blog friend Terri's site, Christmas Tree Lane.  Terri had labeled it as a candy recipe she wanted to try in 2014.  I pinned it to my Kitchen Gifts Pinterest board and temporarily forgot about it until I noticed that a real-life friend of mine had repinned it.  That's when I thought, "Oh, yes -- I need to try making those."  So last Saturday, when we were out and about with some of the grandkids, I picked up a bag of the orange slice candy at Family Dollar.

I didn't see a recipe on Terri's site, though I may have missed it.  I did a very brief Google search and came up with this recipe: chocolate dipped orange smiles at Heritage Recipes.
Photo from Heritage Recipes
 The other morning before heading to an appointment, I tried the recipe using the bag of candy I had bought.

Oh, my, were those good!  Everyone who's recently been at my house and has tried this candy has enjoyed it very much indeed.  After trying these last Tuesday morning, I had another appointment in the afternoon.  You can be sure that on the way home, I stopped by the grocery store and picked up two more bags of orange slice candy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Baking progress

We have made a little progress on the baking front.  Mr. T is baking more gingersnaps as we speak, having eaten up all of the gingersnap coconut creams he made earlier.  He has also made whipped shortbread, eggnog logs,  and a second double batch of chocolate spritz.

I've made some date casserole cookies and some sacher torte cookies, plus have helped with some of his baking.  And yesterday I made some delicious candies, which I hope to share on one of the blogs tomorrow.

And, as you can see, our list keeps growing!

What sorts of Christmas cookies are being baked at your house?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My "Christmas Cookie Exchange" Pinterest board, part 2

A page from one of my vintage Christmas magazines
Yesterday, over on my regular blog, I posted about my Christmas Cookie Exchange! Pinterest board and shared a few of the recipe pictures and links for recipes I want to try.  Today, I am sharing a few more here.  All three of these are from

Cinnamon Roll Cookies look different and very delicious.
Photo from
Then there are these cute Chocolaty Melting Snowmen.

Photo from
 And these Mini Raspberry White Chocolate Whoopie Pies look wonderful, though perhaps a bit fussy to make.

Photo from
There are many more recipes on my Cookie Exchange board, as well as on both blogs.  Happy baking!

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Christmas quote and this week's goal list

The inside of one of my small vintage cards
 Here is a lovely quote (probably from a greeting card originally) by Emily Matthews:

"From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another
The warmth and joy of Christmas brings us closer to each other."

Lovely, isn't it?

Now, my Christmas-related goals list for this week:
* Finish crafting two gifts
* Put up Christmas tree in our bedroom
* Wrap some gifts
* Possibly attend a Christmas party
*  Send some Christmas cards
* Bake some more Christmas cookies
* Make gifts for the names we drew at church
* Plan and put together a gift for Mr. T's boss and family
* Mail our gifts to faraway family

And here is how last week went:
* Finish crafting two gifts -- not quite finished, though I'm very close
* Put up Christmas tree in our bedroom -- not done
* Wrap some gifts -- not done
* Attend a couple of Christmas parties -- went to one; the other was rescheduled
*  Send some Christmas cards -- not done
* Bake some more Christmas cookies -- baked a couple more varieties
* Plan gifts for the names we drew at church -- done!
* Do a few cleaning tasks in the kitchen and bedroom so I can decorate those areas -- pretty much done
* Hopefully mail out some of our gifts to faraway family -- not done
* Do a special Christmas activity with three of our grandchildren -- done!

Obviously, I must have a more productive week this week!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Lord, Bless the Cards We've Written"

Vintage card from my collection
In browsing through a used Christmas book given to me by a friend, I came across a very timely poem reminding me how all of our Christmas preparations should be done with an eye to pointing others to the Lord.  Have you ever prayed and asked God to use your Christmas cards in the lives of others?  Here's the poem:

 Myrtle Beeler Day

Lord, bless the cards we've written;
May they bear a joyous greeting.
Bless the gifts we've wrapped and tied;
May they radiate Thy love.
Bless the wreaths that we have hung
In doorway, stair, and hall;
May they speak of life eternal.
Thy dominion over all.
Bless the lovely candle
Shining forth into the night;
May it carry far and wide
The wondrous message of Thy light.
Bless all the sweet traditions of Thy dear, holy birth;
May they lead us in the worship of
The Savior, Lord of earth.

There are some wonderful thoughts there and some timely prayer requests!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Making every day merry in little ways

A&P coffee ad from my collection
I just love December and the Christmas season, as you might guess since you are reading my Christmas blog.  One thing I like to do is give every day during December a little bit of a festive feel.  This is especially helpful if, like me, you happen to be an empty-nester, or if you are single -- or even if you are a mom in a busy household.  If you don't make things festive for yourself, no one else is likely to.  So here are some of the things I do.
* Use festively flavored coffee as your everyday coffee during this month.  What we do is to buy Christmas coffee at the after-Christmas sales.  Places like Marshalls and TJ Maxx often have it for 75% off.  (They often have regular coffee in Christmas packaging on clearance, too.  We snap it up.  Coffee is coffee!)

* Or use unflavored coffee and a festive flavored creamer.  Sometimes I use fat-free half & half along with just a splash of the flavored creamer.

* If you enjoy tea, stock up on the holiday teas as you have opportunity and sip a mug daily.  Sometimes these are reduced after Christmas and sometimes not.  Some of my favorites are Christmas Tea by Twining's, Candy Cane Lane by Celestial Seasonings, and White Christmas by Stash.

a tea wallet I made as a gift
* If you frequently use lotion or cream on your hands, feet, etc., switch to a holiday scented one for the season.  My daughter found me some Candy Cane Lane lotion (with green tea actually in it) by Jason.  I have also used a sugar cookie scented cream and a cranberry one.  I use it on my feet, and when I take off my boots there is this lovely cheering scent.

* Some people use their Christmas dishes all through the month of December, and I think this is a great idea.  Setting the table with Christmasy colored placemats is a nice idea too. At the very least, using Christmas mugs or teacups for your coffee or tea is fun.

* Listen to Christmas music as you go about your daily work.

*  Do an Advent Bible study for your devotions.  I'm a bit late suggesting this, but it does help keep one focused on the true meaning of Christmas.  If you jumped into one now, it probably wouldn't be too late; you could double up on a day or two here and there.  Or, refresh your memory on some verses from Luke 2 or Scripture passages where the Savior's birth is predicted or described.

* Take time to do some fun things like attend a Christmas concert, watch a Christmas DVD, bake some goodies or craft some simple ornaments.  Set up an Advent calendar or a Christmas countdown. 

* Decorate with fresh greens or festively scented candles for an energizing scent.

*  In fact, put something small and Christmasy in every room of your house.  It will make you smile every time you see it.

There are a few ideas!  I'm sure you will think of more.  We have so much to celebrate -- the coming of our Savior to earth, to be born as a Baby in a humble stable, to grow up and die, then rise again, so we would have a way of salvation.  No, Jesus was almost certainly not born on December 25, but this is one time of year when the focus is on Him.  Let's go about each day with a merry heart, ready to share His love with others at this festive time!

Friday, December 12, 2014

My "Kitchen Gifts" Pinterest board

Some gifts from my own Christmas Kitchen
I tried to write this post several days ago.  I thought it would be nice to share some of the pins from my Kitchen Gifts Pinterest board.  I had the post all written, links in place and working, pictures added -- then something went wrong and the entire post disappeared completely while iPhoto popped up in its place.  I still don't know what happened; I've never had an occurrence like that before.

Anyhow, I am going to try and reconstruct the post.  I was planning to do one post concerning my Kitchen Gifts board here in my Christmas kitchen, and another on my regular blog, Across my Kitchen Table.
Blogger has been giving me fits with my links lately, so every time I add a link I must go into the HTML and take out stuff that Blogger has put in there extraneously.  It's very frustrating and makes doing posts with links quite the adventure.  Here goes:
To start with something sweet, this Smooth as Silk Fudge from Mandy's Recipe Box sounds delicious!
Photo by Mandy's Recipe Box
It's made with Symphony candy bars!

Reindeer Chow, from This Silly Girl's Life, is a fun variation on puppy chow or muddy buddies.
photo from This Silly Girl's Life
Or how about this Copycat Cowboy Bark from Averie Cooks?  It sounds loaded!
photo from Averie Cooks
This Warm Wishes cocoa mix from bhg is packaged in such a nifty way!  When I followed the link, though, I had some difficulty in accessing this project.  When I finally did get there, I found that specific instructions were not given.  One was instructed to put a bag of hot cocoa mix in the center of a far and add marshmallows and peppermints on the sides, then add a tag and bow.  Sounds fairly simple, though I think I might bag the marshmallows too to keep them soft.

photo from
I can think of a couple of people I might give these to.

Lastly, a couple of sweet packaging ideas!   If you follow the links to, you will also find links to the recipes pictured with the packaging.
The doily-wrapped foil pan is perfect for giving a family an entire 13x9 pan of goodies.
photo from
And last of all for this post (I will quit while I'm ahead) is a way to give one or several cookies as individually bagged cookies.  I have a few people in mind to give these to as well!
photo by
So there you have it!  Lord willing, there will be a similar post at Across my Kitchen table, with different pins featured, so you will want to check them both out along with visiting my Pinterest board!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A few links for cookie recipes

vintage cookie ad from my collection
Mr. T has been baking up a storm in the Christmas kitchen.  So far he has made chocolate spritz, eggnog logs, gingersnaps, and whipped shortbread.  I have helped out a little, but not much, as he really enjoys baking Christmas cookies.  I thought that today I would share a few links to our favorite cookie recipes.

Fun and Festive Cookies is a post containing many of our favorite Christmas cookie recipes.  You're sure to find something you want to try; I can pretty much guarantee it.

Family Favorite Cookies  are ones that I seldom use at Christmas, but most of them are out of the ordinary and would probably make good Christmas cookies if you were so inclined.

Would you believe I had created an entire post concerning my kitchen gifts Pinterest board, pictures and all, and lost the entire thing?  Very frustrating.  I hope to try and reassemble it, but for now these simple links will have to suffice.

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Another of my Pinterest boards -- Slow Cooker Inspiration

As I've mentioned before, I find that the slow cooker is my friend anytime, but never more so than during a busy season like Christmas.  I have a Slow Cooker Inspiration board on Pinterest and thought I would share a few of my pins today.  One thing I did notice is that most of these recipes seem to be originally from some other site, but you will be able to see the provenance as you click on the links.

This Maple Mustard Chicken from Chef in Training looks so good!
photo from Chef in Training
And for more, but very different chicken, check out this Chicken Thighs Osso Buco style from Slow Cooker from Scratch.
photo from Slow Cooker from Scratch
Ranch House Pork Chops with Parmesan Mashed Potatoes looks so good, even though the mashed potatoes have to be made separately.  I have pork chops in the freezer, too!  Recipe from Real Mom Kitchen.
photo by Real Mom Kitchen
And finally, a couple of soup recipes.  To my mind, slow cooker soup is best of all at this busy time.  Just have a loaf of bread baking in the bread machine at the same time, and everyone will be happy!
First of all, Loaded Baked Potato Soup from Peas and Crayons.
photo from Peas and Crayons
And lastly, from Gooseberry Patch,  Buffalo Chicken Wing Soup.

photo from Gooseberry Patch
Be sure and visit my Slow Cooker Inspiration Pinterest board for more good ideas!  There are loads of yummy-looking recipes there, and elsewhere on Pinterest.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

My "Christmas Decorating Inspiration" Pinterest board

My vintage shadow box
 Today I want to showcase another of my Christmas-related Pinterest boards, and I've chosen my Christmas Decorating Inspiration board.  I'm sure some of us (like me) are still decorating, and I've chosen some easy ideas for mostly indoor spaces and one that could work outside or in.

Brittany, at Pretty Handy Girl, has shared some wonderful ideas in the post
Creating Seasonal Vignettes.
photo by Pretty Handy Girl
 I love the idea of using books in a vignette.  These Bobbsey Twins books are a perfect shade of green to use with vintage Christmas items.

Photo from Prairie Flower Farm
Linda at Prairie Flower Farm has some of the most beautifully simple ideas you will see, like this simple tree in a jar above.

This is another simple tree idea, but a bit fancier looking: mini tree in a teacup from Sandi at Christmas Pudding.  Her regular blog, Rose Chintz Cottage, is also well worth a visit.  Very inspiring!
Photo from Christmas Pudding
If (as I do) you love the idea of a little Christmas in every room, take a look at this Christmas kitchen corner from The Inspired Room.
photo by The Inspired Room
I love this vintage toy truck display and have got to check the cellar to see what we have down there in the way of vintage toy trucks.
photo from Wild Rose Vintage
And just one more.  This is lovely outdoors but I think it would also be nice on a porch.  It's an outdoor tablescape by Sweet Something Designs.
photo by Sweet Something Designs
Hope you have enjoyed this peek at a few ideas.  Be sure and visit my Christmas Decorating Inspiration board for more fabulous ideas.  I'm adding more all the time!

Monday, December 08, 2014

A Christmasy quote and a list of goals

A scan of a favorite Christmas card by Kathy Lawrence
First, the quote:

"Christmas will always be in the hearts of God's children everywhere as they extend a helping hand to a friend in need ... as they go about reflecting God's goodness in the little quiet and unheralded expressions of a loving heart ... as they share the light of the world with those who live in darkness."
-- Jane Hillsmen

What a wonderful way to live in every season!  There are so few who seek to show the world an accurate representation of God in everyday life.  More of us need to make that a goal.

Now my Christmas-related goals for the week:
* Finish crafting two gifts
* Put up Christmas tree in our bedroom
* Wrap some gifts
* Attend a couple of Christmas parties
*  Send some Christmas cards
* Bake some more Christmas cookies
* Plan gifts for the names we drew at church
* Do a few cleaning tasks in the kitchen and bedroom so I can decorate those areas
* Hopefully mail out some of our gifts to faraway family
* Do a special Christmas activity with three of our grandchildren

And there will probably be more!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

A lovely, lovely poem: Let Us Keep Christmas

Someone gave me a stack of used books they thought might interest me.  One of them is filled with lovely poems and readings concerning Christmas.  This poem is one of the first pages I looked at and, oh, it is so meaningful, especially in the times we're living in right now.  I just had to share it.

Grace Noll Crowell

Whatever else be lost among the years,
Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing.
Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,
Let us hold close one day, remembering
Its poignant meaning for the hearts of men.
Let us get back our childlike faith again.

Wealth may have taken wings,
Yet still there are clear windowpanes
To glow with candlelight;
There are boughs for garlands and a tinsel star
To tip some little fir tree's lifted height.
There is no heart too heavy or too sad,
But some small gift of love can make it glad.

And there are home-sweet rooms
Where laughter rings,
And we can sing the carols as of old.
Above the eastern hills a white star swings;
There is an ancient story to be told;
There are kind words and cheering words to say:
Let us be happy on the Christ Child's day.

Isn't that absolutely beautiful?  Whatever else has been lost, however difficult life has become, we can still celebrate our Savior!  Life would be meaningless without Him.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

A vintage linen towel

One end of the towel
All summer and fall, I have been trying to do some sorting out, decluttering and cleaning at my dad's house.  There are so many storage areas that he never even looks at!  I did a bit of clearing out in the linen closet and one day I came upon this interesting linen Christmas towel.  I am guessing that my mother must have received it as a gift, as it doesn't really seem to be her taste.
The other end of the towel
 What I find so interesting is how there are all different types of motifs here, from tree ornaments to angels to elves to a little village.  They don't really seem to belong together, and yet they are tied together by the color scheme and by the common theme of Christmas. 
A closer look at some of the motifs.  See the tiny village in the center of the photo?
Hope you have enjoyed this peek at a vintage Christmas towel!