Sunday, December 31, 2023

Thinking about a new year


Here we are on the eve of a new year.  I'm not sure how 2023 flew past as it did, but it's gone.  In place of a Sunday Scripture for today, I thought I'd just share a little about spiritual goals for 2024.

New Year's is when we typically consider goals or resolutions for the coming year.  I prefer goals, personally.  It seems to me that resolutions can easily be broken (and discarded), but a goal is something you can keep working at even if you fall a little short of it at times.  Even if you don't fully realize a goal, you make progress toward it.  When I set goals for a new year, spiritual goals are always included, along with physical and relational ones. 

One important thought to keep in mind with goals for any new year is that, as Hannah Wilwerding so eloquently pointed out on her Instagram account Her Biblical Worldview, 2024 is not our year.  It's God's year.  As she wrote, "Just like every year is God's year.  He just allows you to be a part of it.  He holds our goals.  He guides our footsteps.  He establishes our plans.  He directs our lives.  May this be the year we serve God over serving ourselves."

Our former pastor of many years always taught us (and very accurately, too) that there is no standing still in the Christian life.  We're either moving forward or we're moving backward.  That has always stuck with me through the years and I have seen it proved true over and over.  

So aiming for ongoing spiritual growth is very, very important and I find the start of a new year to be the perfect time to make a plan for it.  As the old saying goes, if you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time.  So in every area of life, I try to aim at something, no matter how small it may seem.

I haven't fully formulated my spiritual goals for the coming year, but a friend and I are working on memorizing the book of James,  so learning chapters 2 through 5 will be one.  I read through the Bible last year, but this year I am planning to work my way through Charles Swindoll's Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life.  So that's another.  And I've begun the Bible study Stand Firm, concerning the armor of God, so there's one more.

May I encourage you to aim for greater spiritual growth in the New Year?  You will not regret having done so.

(My dear friend Vee, now with the Lord she loved so well, added the following when I wrote a similar post on my Kitchen Table blog last year: 

"He is the vine, we are the branches.  He is our source.  We can no more gain spiritual growth without Him than we could will ourselves into life itself.   He Who began a good work in you is able to complete it. Philippians 1:6".

And she was absolutely right.  There is no way we can have spiritual growth -- no way we will even have a desire for it -- without a relationship with our Lord and Savior.)

Happy New Year, friends!


Saturday, December 30, 2023

A festive dishcloth


 Well, really, why shouldn't one have a festive dishcloth or two?

This pattern, by Dori at The Red Feedsack, has become my new favorite.  If you follow the link to Dori's blog, you will see that her dishcloths are mostly in solid colors.  I really like that better -- it has a simplicity that I really love -- but I have made many with variegated yarn because I have odds and ends of that to use up.

I've also found that if I keep up with laundering dishcloths on a very regular basis, i.e. light colors with light laundry, darker colors with dark,  I don't need to use bleach to feel that they are clean and thus, the colors are not much diminished, although they do fade ever so slightly with each wash.

This Christmas season I wanted a simple project to have in my bag if I was stuck waiting somewhere or for quiet evening moments at our cottage.  I decided to work on dishcloths in red and green.  I had several partial skeins of the Christmas variegated yarn and decided to use that for the edging.

This red one is the only dishcloth I managed to finish, but I'm happy with how it turned out and have started a green one as well. 

Friday, December 29, 2023

Christmas Granola -- a favorite kitchen gift


Above, you see a pretty wooden tray I received in a gift swap earlier this month.  It made a perfect repository for some completed kitchen gifts -- in this case a canister and two jars of Christmas granola.  This is basically just my regular granola recipe with pistachio kernels and dried cranberries added in.  I have tweaked this recipe in a major way over the years.


4 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Cinnamon to taste
Nutmeg to taste
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
2 tsp. vanilla

Pistachio kernels to taste
Dried cranberries to taste

Preheat oven to 300º. In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut, seeds, nuts, and spices.

In another bowl or a large measuring cup, combine the melted butter, maple syrup or honey, and vanilla and mix well. Pour over the dry mixture and stir to combine thoroughly.

Transfer the mixture to a greased 13x9-inch pan and bake at 300º for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Remove from oven; stir in pistachio kernels and dried cranberries, and let cool before storing. 

For everyday use, I would store granola either in a plastic bag inside a recycled oatmeal canister, or in a large plastic container intended for cereal storage.

However for gifting at Christmas time, I would use either quart mason jars or a Christmasy canister or tin.  The adorable canister at top was a deal at Ocean State Job Lot for $2.50.  The quart jars were actually being returned to the recipient, who had given us maple syrup in them.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

A creative gift wrapping idea


 I needed just one more small gift for our nine-year-old local granddaughter.  I got to thinking about a snack she loves -- Laughing Cow cheese.  I guess there's something about unwrapping those little individual wedges of cheese that she finds fascinating.  So that gave me the idea to get a few packages of Laughing Cow and a box of crackers for that one remaining gift that I needed.

 Unloading the grocery bags at home later, I was struck by something.  The round cheese packages and the rectangular cracker box gave me an idea for wrapping them together and making them look like ... maybe a little girl?  Maybe a snowman?

You know how sometimes an idea can sort of percolate in one's mind?  I found myself thinking about this one in my sleep, and the next morning mentioned it to my husband.  His wheels also began to turn, and you see the result:

A simple felt hat, scarf and mittens combined with a plaid-wrapped cracker box did the trick.  You can't see it, but there's a green jingle bell at the tip of the cap.  

 My hubby used a wooden paint stirrer,  held in place with red duct tape, on the back of the whole construction to stabilize it.  

Rounds of white card stock covered the ends of the cheese containers, and I drew a snowman face on the front one -- there are two packages of cheese here.  I had bought three, but it just wasn't going to fit right atop the cracker box.  So I wrapped the third in tissue paper and tucked into a sparkly tiny gift bag I had.  You can't really see this either, but I cut another green mitten from felt and glued it to the side of the box so it sort of looks like the snowman is "holding" the handles of the gift bag.

This simple gift went over far better than I could have hoped.  Ari had so much fun with it and it really kept her guessing.  (I had put a note on the tiny gift bag saying to open that part last, as it could have given the whole thing away.)  And she was as delighted with the contents of the gift as she was with the packaging.

I have no idea if this might be a wrapping idea anyone else might use, but thought I would share it just for fun!

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

A simple little craft


 Scripture verse cards on particular topics seem to be quite popular these days.  I own a couple of sets myself, one that I purchased and one that was gifted me.  You can see a collection of them here: verse cards.  

One set of cards that I was gifted came with a little wooden stand to display the individual cards in.  I could see that this would be especially helpful if one was trying to memorize a verse.  The ones from Daily Grace don't seem to offer a stand as an option.

I was planning to gift a set of the Stand Firm cards to friends to accompany the matching Bible studies.  I really wanted to include a simple little stand.

One day in my craft room I happened upon a bag of wood slices with a slot in each one ... my hubby had made these for me years ago to use in a VBS craft.  Inspiration struck.  I tested a card in the slot and yes, it fit.  

So I embellished the wood slice just a bit with some simple trims:

I'm so pleased with how this little project turned out!  I will be making more of these.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

And now, for a gingerbread coffee syrup


The other day my hubby and I enjoyed a gingerbread coffee in the cafe at our local grocery store.   This is a flavor we tried there last Christmas season and we liked it so much, we made a note to go back this year -- hopefully more than once.  And we would love to sip a similar flavor at home, too!

After our peppermint mocha syrup was such a success, we decided to try a gingerbread syrup from the same site, Mad About Food.  

Mr. T made this up on Christmas morning and it really is delicious -- I'd say equally as good as the peppermint mocha one.  He thinks he likes the gingerbread even better.  Definitely worth a try if this is a flavor you enjoy!

Monday, December 25, 2023

Merry Christmas!

 Yes, here in the T's Christmas kitchen, all is merry and bright.  Although we do not eat Christmas breakfast (intermittent fasting) we will have some type of festive meal for lunch and we are preparing some celebratory food for our Christmas dinner later at our daughter's home.

My hubby just tried out a recipe for a gingerbread coffee syrup with I plan to blog about tomorrow.  It's very good!

I have Ranch House Chicken in the crockpot to take along for dinner.  Our daughter is preparing a roast and mashed potatoes.  I'm also bringing this  Merry Berry Salad, so the cranberries are awaiting being blended into a gorgeous cranberry vinaigrette and I will assemble the salad in a few hours. 

 We'll also be bringing a cookie tray and are putting the finishing touches on some last-minute food gifts.  

Hope everyone is having a lovely Christmas so far as we celebrate the very greatest Gift ever given -- our Savior, Jesus Christ!

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Sunday Scripture


As mentioned last Sunday, I'm doing special Christmas related Sunday Scripture posts throughout December again this year.  Back in 2020 I had worked through Peace, Be Still: A 31-Day Christmas prayer journal, from Women Living Well.  Last year, I used some of my simple study from this book as Scripture posts for December.  I have decided to do so again this year, using different posts on each of my blogs to keep it interesting for all of my readers.  I will take two from each week's study to use one each on my blogs, and maybe next December use more of them.

Also -- note that this simple study does not use the SOAP method as my studies usually do.  This one includes a verse for the day, a thought for the day,  a reflection question for the day and space to write a prayer for each day.  I tended to look at the verse a little bit in depth, and I tended to answer the reflection question in the prayer, but of course you can use these any way you want to. I hope perhaps some of you will want to study out these verses in more depth for yourselves.

Here goes with the study for Week 3, Day 17! 

Verses for the day:

"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."  (Revelation 1:8)

I chose to look at several other verses in Revelation as well.

 "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and what thou seest, write." (Revelation 1:10-11)

"And He said unto me, It is done.  I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely."  (Revelation 21:6)

"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, and the first and the last."  (Revelation 22:13)

My study: 

God is the beginning and the ending. 
He is.
He has always been.
He is to come.
He is the Almighty, the Mighty God.
He is in sovereign control.  He has a plan, and His purposes are always for our good and for His glory.

Believer's Bible Commentary tells us:

"The Lord Jesus introduces Himself as the Alpha and the Omega (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet), the Beginning and the End.  He spans time and eternity, and exhausts the vocabulary of excellence.  He is the source and goal of creation, and it is He who began and will end the divine program in the world.  He is and was and is to come, eternal in His being and the Almighty in power."

Reflection question:

Are you facing something difficult today?  How can you trust Him more, knowing that He is in control and He loves you?

My prayer:

"Dear God, I am so thankful that You are the mighty God who has always been and who always will be.  You are in sovereign control over the past, present, and future.  You have a plan and a purpose in all that You allow, and Your purposes are always, only good.  

"It;s very hard to grasp how the situations we are in as a country can possibly turn out for the best, but Your purpose is good and You are working all things after the counsel of Your own will.  We can trust You complete;ly -- and we do!  I pray in Jesus' name, Amen."

That's the Sunday Scripture for the day.  Hope it was a blessing to you!


Saturday, December 23, 2023

Christmas Eve Soup, take two or three


 For decades we have used the same recipe for Christmas Eve Soup.  I've tweaked it a bit over the years so it is never exactly the same.  In 2021 I tried a recipe that I actually like a lot better, that tastes just the same only better.  I'd forgotten that I had posted about this over on my other blog in 2021, so having started this post I am just going to copy and paste here, and hope no one minds.  (That one had no comments on it, so it's possible no one even read it! 😀

"Our Christmas Eve Soup is just a simple creamy potato soup with some carrots and celery included, and with crumbled bacon and shredded Cheddar cheese to sprinkle on top.  We used to always serve it with biscuit, rolls, corn muffins or some other type of bread.  In more recent years we have often served it with pizza.  You can find the recipe here: Christmas Eve Soup.

This year I am going to tweak it just a bit.  A month or so ago, I tried a recipe from a Gooseberry Patch cookbook, Sunday Dinner at Grandma's.  This happens to be a cookbook which I received for free in exchange for having a recipe published in it.   You can also find it here at  Gooseberry Patch.  (Interestingly, it was a soup recipe that I had published in this book -- Cream of Broccoli Soup!)

The recipe I tried recently, though, is Grandma Jo's Potato Soup.  Interestingly, the ingredients are almost exactly the same as our Christmas Eve Soup.  But this soup was much tastier!  What is the difference?  I've scanned the page from the cookbook to show you.

 My usual recipe calls for light cream; this one calls for evaporated milk.  The only other difference is that this calls for "onion and garlic seasoned salt".  I didn't have any of that, but I did have a container of garlic pepper seasoned salt, so I liberally added that to taste.    This added zesty seasoning, plus the creaminess from the evaporated milk, has to make the difference."

So this year, when we celebrated "Christmas Eve" for adult granddaughters last night,  I again served Grandma Jo's Potato Soup instead of my usual.  And I tweaked it even more in that I used a can of carrots instead of cooking fresh carrots along with the potatoes, celery, and onion.  I added the carrots near the end, at the same time as the evaporated milk, so they wouldn't break up too much, being already cooked.  I like this much better than fresh carrots, and it's so easy. 

* The illustration at top is a scan of one of my very favorite Christmas cards, which features the Fred Swan painting Walking to Town.  To me it just says "Christmas Eve".  I actually have a cross-stitch kit of this design.  Maybe this year I will actually get to it! *

Friday, December 22, 2023

Festive Friday five


 Just popping in for a quick post today.  Time surely is flying by as we speed toward December 25!  Just sharing five quick thoughts of things I'm enjoying this month.

* Christmas fellowship with friends.  Way back on December 1 we went out for breakfast with friends at a fun, new-to-all-of-us place.  In the evening there was a lovely fellowship with our LOG (Ladies of Grace) group from church.  Crackling fire, beautifully set table, yummy food, thoughtful gifts, cookies to swap and share ... it was all good.

 On December 2 we enjoyed a nice Christmas party with my hubby's former coworkers on the logging crew.  This is an event the company's owners put together each year in appreciation for their crew, and it's always a good time.

On December 9 we met up with friends for thrift shopping and Mexican food.  These are folks we might not ordinarily see in December, so it was especially nice.  

On December 19 we were invited for supper at the home of friends.  ALL of their Christmas decorations were up (and I thought I decorated a lot.  I don't.) so it was very festive and the meal was restaurant quality.  The company -- our friends and their two adult sons -- was also most pleasant.

 * Special Christmasy times with grandchildren.  On December 8 we got together with four of our local grands for brunch, crafting, and ice cream sundaes.  Tonight, we'll be exchanging gifts and enjoying a "Christmas eve observed" supper with our two oldest granddaughters.



Ice cream sundaes
This player piano played Christmas music and was a huge favorite with the grandkids.  Alas, it no longer works.

 * Mr. T busy in the kitchen.  I can't even count all of the different cookies and candies that have emerged from the kitchen under the watchful eye of my hubby.  Our unheated front porch is the perfect repository for most of the sweets being stored.  Several cookie trays have already been given to friends and family, and others have been taken to various gatherings.  I love to bake, myself, but I don't mind one bit that he is doing most of it.

* Time to make a few handmade gifts.  I've made some Shutterfly gifts and a few other things -- though I never do as much Christmas creating as I would hope to.  I did a little crafting when the grandkids did, and made an ornament I've been wanting to try for a long time, so that was a blessing for me.

* Wallowing in nostalgia.   My Etsy shop is responsible for most of this, as it is filled with vintage goodies I remember from childhood.  I should be busy listing all kinds of vintage Christmas things, but time is at a premium and I get moved to tears often enough as it is.  The old Ideals magazines were such a part of Christmas at my grandmother's, and I have a large stash of them now myself.



Then some years ago I made a Christmas memory book for my adult kids.  I included my childhood memories and also some from their childhoods. I had a copy of this memory book at our camp and have been reading through it lately when we've been there.   Life has become so different in so many ways since then that it just hurts sometimes.  I remind myself often that the important things about Christmas -- the facts of Jesus' birth and why He came -- will never change.

And there's the Friday five! What are some special things you're enjoying this month?

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Super easy meal for a busy day: Egg Roll in a Bowl


 But, you're thinking: egg rolls need to be filled, and wrapped, and deep fried.  How is that an easy meal?

It's easy because this is just the egg roll filling, or something that resembles it anyway, and it is served in a bowl.  If you like, you might also choose to serve a side of some sort -- either vegetables or a salad.   Not rice, because that would defeat the low-carb properties of this meal.  And searching for low-carb recipes is what brought this main dish across my radar in the first place.  

This recipe, if you can even call it that, is incredibly flexible.  The basics needed would be ground or chopped meat (pork, beef, lamb, chicken, turkey or even ham); fresh vegetables like onion, celery, zucchini,  green beans, etc.; and a package of coleslaw mix.  And some seasonings like salt, pepper, soy sauce, garlic powder, ground ginger ...  Ginger paste from the produce aisle works nicely too instead of the ground spice.

If you are starting with ground raw meat, cook it in a large skillet, adding some bacon fat if necessary to keep it from sticking.  Next, add in any fresh vegetables you like, sliced in bite size pieces or, in the case of zucchini or summer squash, in sticks about 3 inches long.  Cook and stir the mixture until these veggies are nearly tender.  You may wish to cover the skillet to hasten this process.  At this point add the coleslaw mix and stir well.  Continue to cook, adding more bacon fat or some butter if it seems necessary.  Cook until the cabbage (and there may be carrots in the mix, too) is tender.  Add in seasonings -- some garlic powder, ground ginger, salt and pepper -- and add soy sauce to taste.  Serve piping hot.

I have made this with chopped leftover turkey, chicken or ham.  When using already cooked meat, I usually begin the preparation with cooking the fresh vegetables in a little bacon fat or butter (I try to avoid seed oils).  When the vegetables are tender, I stir in the meat, the seasonings, and maybe a little chicken broth and heat through before adding in and cooking the cole slaw mix.  

This recipe comes together in less than a half hour and is really delicious.  It has become one of my husband's favorite meals!

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

From the December archives, part 2


Here's a second December archive post!  Because I have so many years worth of archives (I started this blog in 2007) I plan to do three archive posts this December, and will do three different ones for my Kitchen Table blog.  Today is the second installment here in my Christmas kitchen.

From December 2013 I selected a couple of fun posts: Oh, those Christmas magazines! and a Mini Pinterest Party that we had that December.

Lord, Bless the Cards We've Written is a lovely little poem from 2014.  Very inspiring.

From 2015, you might enjoy Five Favorite Festive Cookies, especially if you are looking for some last-minute cookie inspiration.


An Egg Casserole for Christmas Breakfast is the post I selected from the 2016 archives.  It's delicious and worth trying if you don't already have a traditional favorite.

From 2017, I chose two posts: Mulled Cranberry Orange Juice is a festive warm beverage we love.  And Does your Christmas season look a little different this year?  might be helpful reading for you or a friend for whom this is true.

And from 2018, here is a craft idea to make Glittery Little Trees which would look lovely with a display of glittery little putz houses.  While the grandkids were doing some crafting here, they came upon the stash of cut-open paper tubes I had saved to make these.  I quickly looked up the directions and Ari made one.  Sam took the basic instructions and made a tree, which he then wrapped with green yarn and decorated with gold cord.  He even made a stump for the tree out of another tube and wrapped it vertically with brown yarn.

Hope these ideas from the archives are helpful to you!


Tuesday, December 19, 2023

A festive flavor: Peppermint Mocha


Image by Terri Cnudde from Pixabay

 Mr. T and I so enjoy this festive flavor, but we hadn't had the opportunity to have it this season.  We usually buy a bag of the peppermint bark flavored coffee rather than using a flavored creamer -- it seems healthier -- and just enjoy this coffee with regular half and half.  But this December we haven't been able to find the flavored coffee in our local supermarkets.  

Back in November I had made a homemade pumpkin spice latte mixture that we really liked.  So considering that, I decided to do a search and see if I could find a recipe for Peppermint Mocha syrup.  And after a little bit of looking -- Yes!  And it has really simple ingredients like coconut milk (I substituted evaporated milk, as the recipe said could be done), baking cocoa, brown sugar, peppermint extract, and salt.

My hubby made up a batch on Saturday night and we tried it out in coffee on Sunday morning.  Excellent!  We found that just an iced-tea spoon full of the syrup (it really looks more like a thick sauce) is enough for a large mug of coffee.  We then add half-and-half to taste, but it doesn't take much since there is already milk in the syrup.

I recommend this recipe if, like us, you are a fan of peppermint mocha flavor in coffee.  (I realize many people are not!)  It can also be made into a latte, but we are just using it as I described.  Hope you enjoy this if you try it!

Monday, December 18, 2023

From the December archives, Part 1


 Sometimes it's fun to go back and do an archives post.  And I have never done December archive posts. ot seems, although I've done them for other months.  Because I have so many years worth of archives (I started this blog in 2007) I plan to do three archive posts this December, and will do three different ones for my Kitchen Table blog.  Today is the first installment here in my Christmas kitchen.

From December 2007-- Embellished work socks -- these were repurposed from my hubby's work socks and make beautiful decorative stockings to hang.  I also learned that I apparently had tried that Chocolate-Dipped Maple Logs recipe before, since I said in 2007 that I had some in the freezer.  The things we learn from the archives!

In December 2008, I apparently had the goal to post every day, but managed it only ten times.  This was the best and most informative post of the lot: How to make rag garlands.

Just for fun was a simple post from 2009 featuring a very whimsical vintage Christmas card. 

From December 2010 come Recipes to simplify the season -- soups and stews and one bread machine recipe.

Christmas Star dishcloths to crochet is a favorite pattern I posted about in 2011.  I've made loads of these over the years.

Lastly, from 2012, these Glittery paper ornaments were a fun project for me.   I did stars, snowflakes, crescent moons, bells, trees -- and they have held up amazingly well stored in fluctuating attic temperatures over the years.

So there you have it ... part 1 of my Christmas Kitchen archive posts for December!  Hope you find something here you'll enjoy!

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Sunday Scripture


As mentioned, I'm doing special Christmas related Sunday Scripture posts throughout December again this year.  Back in 2020 I had worked through Peace, Be Still: A 31-Day Christmas prayer journal, from Women Living Well.  Last year, I used some of my simple study from this book as Scripture posts for December.  I have decided to do so again this year, using different posts on each of my blogs to keep it interesting for all of my readers.  I will take two from each week's study to use one each on my blogs, and maybe next December use more of them.

Also -- note that this simple study does not use the SOAP method as my studies usually do.  This one includes a verse for the day, a thought for the day,  a reflection question for the day and space to write a prayer for each day.  I tended to look at the verse a little bit in depth, and I tended to answer the reflection question in the prayer, but of course you can use these any way you want to. I hope perhaps some of you will want to study out these verses in more depth for yourselves.

Here goes with the study for Week 2, Day 11! 

Verses for the day:

"Then said Jesus unto His disciples, Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall with difficulty enter into the kingdom of God.

"When His disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who, then, can be saved?

"But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible."  (Matthew 19:23-26)

My study:  

Here are some cross-references: 

"I prayed unto the LORD, saying, Ah, Lord GOD!   Behold, Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and outstretched arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee."  (Jeremiah 32:17)

"Is anything too hard for the LORD?"  (Genesis 18:14)

"And the LORD said unto Moses, Is the LORD's hand become short?  Thou shalt see now whether My word shall come to pass unto thee, or not."  Numbers 11:23)

"Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear."  (Isaiah 59:1)

"Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is there any thing too hard for Me?"  (Jeremiah 32:27)

Reflection question:

In what area do you need to trust God more?

I wrote:

We're at a difficult point in history.  It's an exciting (yet occasionally terrifying) time to be alive. We are asking God for divine intervention in our country's difficult situation and to save us from totalitarianism.  We're also asking Him to intervene in the drastic measures that are threatening our way of life.  He is the only One who can turn this situation around.  I trust God completely to do what's best.  That said, I'm far from perfect and I'm sure there are a number of areas in which I could trust Him more.

My prayer:

"Dear God, I am so incredibly thankful that with You, all things are possible.  I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that there is nothing -- NOTHING -- too hard for You.  There is no doubt in my mind that You could change our situation in a moment with just a word.  The poor handling of many issues is destroying the fabric of our society, of all that is good about our land.  Lord, You know we are facing even harder times if You don't intervene.  I pray that You will.  Nevertheless, not our will but Yours be done, I pray in Jesus' name, Amen."

And that's the Sunday Scripture for the day.  Hope it was a blessing to you!

Saturday, December 16, 2023

A new to us cookie recipe


 I saw these amazing-looking cookies on Instagram and had to try them: Gingerbread Coffee Cake Cookies.  Back when we made up the tentative cookie list, these were not even on my radar.  But Mr. T (who now does almost all of the Christmas cookie baking) had expressed the thought that he would like to add one or two new recipes to his repertoire this year.  So I added on my old favorite Pepparkakor, but I will be baking those since they are cut-out cookies, which he has never tackled.  

I thought he could handle the Double-Drizzled Pecan Cookies, the Peppermint Snowballs, the Gingerbread Brownies (all recipes made by me in the past) and the Chocolate-Dipped Maple Logs which had been on my want-to-try list for years.  Only I ended up making those myself for a cookie swap.  And were they good!

But back to the Gingerbread Coffee Cake Cookies from The Palatable Life.  Mr. T hasn't gotten to my other suggested cookies yet, but he wanted to try these.  They do look delicious and different -- round gingerbread cookies with a streusel topping and vanilla glaze.

Photo from The Palatable Life
He tweaked the recipe a bit.  Added a tad more flour to make the dough less sticky.  He also wanted to make them much smaller than the recipe said and he ended up with about 4 dozen from a batch.  He found that the best way to make an indentation in the cookie top (to hold the streusel topping) was to use a large round plastic measuring tablespoon.  

And because he ended up with so many more cookies, he did have to make about twice the amount of glaze in order to have enough to drizzle on all of them.

This is a very delectable cookie.  Mr. T proclaims it "a new favorite"!

Friday, December 15, 2023

Some fun images for your Christmas papercrafting


Have you folks visited The Graphics Fairy?  Karen has a collection of 761 Free Merry Christmas images for your crafting pleasure.

Many of the images are older -- Victorian, even -- but there are some, like the one at the top of the post, that are from the 1950s.  I love the mid-century graphic, likely because that's when I grew up and my childhood Christmases are all tied up with images like these.  Karen said that she scanned the poodles and wreaths from a wrapping paper sample book.  What a fun find that book must have been!  

Here are examples of a few more images:


A sweet retro village
Adorable vintage bunnies and a chickadee
A pretty red and green house
A gorgeous vintage postcard with roses, church, and even a Bible verse

There are many, many more wonderful images to check out at The Graphics Fairy.  I hope you'll enjoy using this fantastic resource.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Book review: A Very Merry Christmas


 This is a newer book from Gooseberry Patch.  It's one of those books that I "earned" after having a recipe, craft, or memory published.  It was a fun surprise when my Festive Cheese Log recipe was chosen for publication this past year.  The subtitle is "Tried and true recipes to make your holiday special!" and this cheese log has been making our family's holidays special for decades now.  Friends at church always look forward to it, too.

The first chapter in A Very Merry Christmas cookbook is Making Memories Together.  There are some fun and heartwarming memories shared by readers from all over.  Some are reminiscent of my own memories, while others would be fun traditions to begin with a family.

Fun and Festive Breakfasts is the next chapter, filled with great ideas for quiche and egg bakes, breakfast sides, pancakes and waffles, cinnamon rolls, coffee cakes,  scones, muffins, and other wonderful-sounding breakfast dishes.  Nearly every recipe sounds like one that I would love to try -- especially the Gingerbread Muffins and Grandpa Frank's Breakfast Pizza.  There are also quotes, recipes, and other fun ideas sprinkled on the pages of this section.

The third chapter is Cozy Soups & More.  We just love soup in winter, fall and spring, which are all cool seasons here in NewHampshire.    This chapter features homemade breads and crackers too.  The Cheesy Ham & Potato Corn Chowder, Cauliflower & Cheese Soup, and Anita's Italian Zuppa are among the many soups I'd enjoy trying.

The fourth chapter is Scrumptious Sides & Salads. Sweet Baked Squash & Apples is one I've made many times (under a different name and using a different squash) and it's always a hit.   Tricolor Rotini Pasta Salad is different from my usual in that it includes salami and asparagus.  I might try this, but not for my grandkids, who have their own favorite pasta salad they always want me to make.  Joyce's Stuffing Cakes sound different and very good.  I think the Best Baked Beans would be a hit with my family.

Home for the Holidays is the next chapter, filled with main courses that would help me achieve my aim in December -- having cozy meals for those super busy days and evenings.  There are several more elegant recipes, suitable for Christmas dinner, but those don't take my eye like the cozy everyday ones.  I'd love to try Cheesy Tortilla Bake, Chicken Divan (very different from my usual recipe -- it includes stuffing!), Cowboy Chow, and Cheesy Pierogie Bake.  

Next is Party-Perfect Appetizers.  This one has loads of great appetizer and beverage recipes.  I'd love to try the French Quarter Cheese Spread, the Wonton Appetizer Cups and The Christmas Pineapple.  That last one is a whole pineapple trimmed with pickles, mini sausages, cubes of cheese, olives etc.  attached to it with toothpicks. 

And lastly, Ho-Ho Holiday Treats contains all sorts of sweet treats from cookies to pies to candies to snacks, especially for the sweet tooth members of the family.  (I have such great memories of my dad, asking after supper if there might be "a little something for the sweet tooth".)   
  I've made the Peppermint Bark -- makes such a good and easy kitchen gift!  I'd love to try the Salted Caramel Toffee Cookies, Cherry Almond Bundt Cake, and Toffee Coffee Crunch, with a layer of crushed roasted coffee beans underneath the toffee. 

This Christmas cookbook will be fun to use this season.  It's always a neat experience when Gooseberry Patch chooses one of my recipes, memories, or craft ideas for publication!                                                                                                                                         

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

A fun little project: transforming purchased ornaments


 So I was in Walmart to purchase a few components for a gift I put together for a gift exchange.  I had a lovely Advent devotional and some holiday teas but wanted to make it into more of a gift basket.  I wish I had gotten a photo, but I failed to.  I got some Christmasy napkins, added in some nice mugs found in Walmart, a bag of  the recipient's favorite Christmas cookies and I can't even recall what else.  To use as a container for the gift, I found in the regular housewares section a bright red bowl with a white colander (both plastic) nestled inside it.  It looked pretty and festive and yet was highly practical and could be used in the kitchen later.  I lined it with a Christmasy dish towel (also Walmart) and made a set of four coasters sort of like this one 

 to go with it.  

On a whim, I also ventured into the mini ornament area to find something small and simple for a package tie-on.  I chose these because they had a fun country look with those wood beads.

And I ended up using one of the "Merry Christmas" ones.  I might have used the "Holly Jolly" one too, but ... 

Can you guess why I didn't?  Look close now!  Or maybe you won't have to look that closely.

Yes, they say "Holy Jolly".  What a stupid mistake!  

Still, I felt they were salvageable, so when the grandkids were over for their crafting spree, I asked Josiah to have a go at transforming them.  I felt that all it would really take was to cut a small, suitable size scene from a Christmas card and glue it over the top of what was there.  

And he did that for two ornaments, the one at the top of the post and the one just below:


But then he really outdid himself and made one more! You see it at lower left below:

See what he did here?  He cut a piece of green foil gift wrap to cover the saying.  Then he took a piece of gold metallic cord, curved it into a Christmas tree and added a star sequin at the top.  Next he glued a mini grapevine wreath ato it and added a bit of greenery and berries.  Stunning!

I love watching the creativity of kids and teens!  Josiah and all three of his siblings have creativity in abundance.  I'm almost glad the out-of-country craftsman messed up "Holly Jolly".  Now I have a one-of-a-kind handcrafted ornament to add to my tree.