Thursday, December 18, 2014

My World this Week

The big red mixer is back where she used to be all the time!
How is your Christmas season going?  Have you taken the time to do what makes your heart sing?  I must admit that this past week has been one of more busy-ness than heart singing.  But by baking ahead for the freezer, it opens the way for Christmas week to be stress free as food baskets are assembled for friends and neighbors.

And it is not a bad thing to be in one's cozy kitchen with the oven making it warm, Christmas music on the CD player, and vanilla dabbed behind the ears as our grandmother's once did.

I took a morning away from the kitchen for a lovely "breakfast out" with my friend, Linda.  That was my Christmas gift to her and when we left the restaurant, we stopped by a favorite store that sells primitive country items to take in the atmosphere there (trying not to covet everything!) and then made a trip to Barnes & Noble to peruse British decorating magazines.  A really nice Christmas celebration that didn't cost much and will provide good memories in the coming year.

So... here is what has been going on in my work this past week when I remembered to take photos!

Reading

I purchased Elizabeth Goudge's A Christmas Book* for just a few dollars last year (or was it the year before?).  I have a few hard-to-find and expensive titles on my Wish List.  When I have credit available, I go through them to see if there are any cheap additions available.  This one is a library discard so it was inexpensive but just fine for one who collects on a budget!

The other two books I am reading through... Come Thou Long Expected Jesus* which is my favorite Advent devotional and Winter Song* by Madeleine L'Engle and Luci Shaw.  Beautiful all year but especially during the Christmas Season.

Tea Time

You may remember last year's thrifting find, the beautiful Old Country Roses Christmas teapot for $2.99 at Goodwill!  That was amazing.  The stoneware cup... part of a Christmas set of dishes I bought cheap at Meijers long ago.  I use the set all year because it makes me smile.

I took this photo while waiting for the tea to steep inside that lovely teapot.  I was using the last of the whole leaf green tea blend Stephanie bought me for my birthday.  It was delicious.  The "sweet" was half of the tiny chocolate bar from Aldi's.

The vintage hankie was brought out to make it all look pretty.  I don't do it everyday but a few times a week I like a proper pot of tea instead of just a teabag in a pretty cup.  Emphasis on pretty.  Life is too short for drab.

Thrifting

I found this Christmas artwork (an original painting) for $1.99 at the Salvation Army store this year!  It adds so much color to that part of the Living Room.


The Christmas tree in the stoneware stays out all year, usually residing on the floor next to the TV stand.  I love primitives.
Pretty

I had just finished washing a stack of Christmas trays when I thought putting these three together in one place might be cute.  It is...

Decorating

Her Fluffiness

I didn't take any photos of Victoria last week so I thought I'd share this one again.  A favorite from the past!  Linda asked for permission to get prints made from this photo to use for cards.  Love those tippy toe paws!

*Amazon Associate Link, I receive a tiny portion of what is purchased and it cost you nothing more than clicking on the link.  ;)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Nature Girl: a guide to caring for God's creation, a review


I was intrigued by this little book as I have a granddaughter who shares my love of nature and it is very difficult to find good books about nature, organic food, conservation, recycling, and ecology from a Christian perspective.

The authors, Karen Whiting and Rebecca White, have assembled a wonderful book full of information and ideas for young girls (and I may add, entire families) who want to study nature in its' many forms.

Within the book are science experiments, games, and crafts, along with information for the reader in each section.  It would be an excellent book for homeschoolers to draw activities from for their nature studies.

The chapter headings are:
  • Be You and Be Beautiful
  • You Are What You Eat
  • Be an Earth BFF
  • Caring for God's Critters
  • Wet and Wonderful Water
  • Let's Clear the Air
  • Power Up!
  • Real Girls Reuse and Recycle
  • Party at the Park
  • Sprouting a Green 'Tude
This is not a big book and it contains no photos.  But it is packed with a lot of information and activities.  I highly recommend it!  It would make an inexpensive addition to your family library.  It is available in paperback and for the Kindle.

For further information about the book at Amazon, click here.*

This book was given to me by the publisher for the purpose of review but the opinion is my own.

*Amazon Associate link

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Take Heaven, Take Peace, Take Joy


I salute You!  There is nothing I can give you which you have not;
but there is much, that, while I cannot give, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.
Take Heaven.
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant.
Take Peace.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. 
Take Joy.
And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you,
now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.
Fra Giovanni
A.D. 1513

I was asked a question by my husband this past week.  He was wondering why certain circumstances in our life were not bothering me as they did him.  I thought for a moment and told him, "It's because I have put boundaries on my disappointments".

He looked startled, it was not what he expected to hear.  And to be honest, as the poster child for the melancholic temperament... he most likely wonders why someone would do such a thing.

Perhaps that is why this Advent Season has been more joyful than those in the past few years.  Either I have become comfortable with the new normal or by placing boundaries on those disappointments of life, it has enabled God to fill my heart with joy.  Most likely a combination of both.

I have long enjoyed the above quote by Fra Giovanni*.  It appeared in my Advent reading again this week as well as in Tasha Tudor's beautiful DVD Take Peace, which I watched a couple of times again this Season.  It inspires that part of my soul that loves all things lovely.  But back to the quote.

For me, the advice given so beautifully reflects what God has been teaching me in that still small Voice. Long ago He showed me how... should I have nothing else to give Him... I can lay my attitude at His altar.  That choice between bitterness and defeat or choosing to thank Him for what good things He has given.  The trust that God will work all things together for my good and His glory.

But Fra Giovanni's message takes all a step further as we are reminded it is up to us what we do with the given circumstances, how we choose to accept them that can make all the difference.  And as for me... I take Heaven, I take Peace, I take Joy.

There is something about God's design on the human soul which I find quite remarkable.  That is quite often... not always but often... we can change our emotions by choices we make.  

For instance, I can be quite gloomy but if I choose to put some lovely Christmas music in the CD player, I may feel better.  Music alone cannot by any means change circumstances but it has a power within to encourage my soul's thoughts from dark to light.  It helps us to take Joy.

Last year I was having conflict with people I love.  They had quite unintentionally hurt me deeply.  When talking to my daughter about the situation, she reminded me that I could choose to remain hurt or offer them forgiveness.  The way that situation would turn out was up to me.  I chose forgiveness and it changed everything.  I took Peace.

Many years ago I was a teenager crushed by life's circumstances.  An acquaintance I went to school with invited me to a revival meeting at her church.  I learned later that they were told to ask the least likely person they thought would say yes.  She chose me.  I said yes.  And at that church, I found Jesus.  I took Heaven.

The world becomes darker each year it seems.  More of the ways of the enemy and less the ways of the Lord.  A couple TV stations have been playing the Christmas episodes of shows from the 50s and 60s.  It is with nostalgia that I have watched a few, for the episodes... even the comedies... show the Christmas seasons of old as much more Christ glorifying.

But that is where your choices come in, and my choices, and what we do with each December.  

Do we go with the flow of the Culture and ignore Him?

Do we give into our circumstances when they are less than perfect and stomp our feet and cry into our pillow and tell Him if that is the what you are allowing in my life... forget Christmas this year!

Or...  do we accept the knowledge that we are not living in Heaven, yet.  Neither are we living in the New Earth in all its' Glory.  No... we are but pilgrims and sojourners walking on this most fallen of planets.

But we can be a reflection of Heaven and its' Glory to all around us.  While our faces may not shine as did Moses when he returned from the mountain, we can reflect at least a little of His Joy, His Love, His Compassion, His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness... His willingness to be obedient to the Father.

The battle may rage in this world.  But He really does win.  Whatever is going on in your life at the moment, He is at work in your situation.  You have not been forgotten.  Hold on.  Christmas is here but Easter is coming. 

My prayer this Season is that you, too, my friends will Take Heaven, Take Peace, and Take Joy.  And then lay them at His feet as an offering of thankfulness for what He has done in the past, the mercies He is showing in the present, and the hope that remains in the years to come.

*The entire letter from which this quote is excerpted can be read here.

Image:  Winter Scene

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Some favorite Christmas recipes

Photo from Country Woman magazine
This next week, I will be doing most of my Christmas baking and candy making. I like to put together a basket or cute gift bag of a variety of goodies when I give them as a gift.

Instead of combining baked goods with "gifts in a jar" this year, I am giving a few items that require baking or preparing somewhat in the last few days before the gift giving.  But most can be made ahead.  I can bake the mini loaves of cranberry orange and pumpkin chocolate chip bread ahead of time and pull out of the freezer shortly before assembling the basket (the mini loaves of cranberry orange bread are already in the freezer).

However, beginning this weekend, I'm making the shortbread dough for the freezer to save time during Christmas week.  It needs to be prepared one batch at a time since it will be baked in a mold but that is very easy.  Each batch goes together quickly and can be made one after the other in the Kitchen Aid mixer.  I will freeze each batch separately and then a day or two before assembling the basket, I will bake them (defrosting the dough in the frig overnight).

Last year I baked a few of the batches in the Christmas mold but a couple batches were simply rolled out and cut with a round cookie cutter.  I sprinkled them with course sugar before baking and they were a big it.  This is a way to stretch the shortbread to feed more people since they are thinner cookies and make more.  The cookies baked in the mold are much thicker.

The two "maybes" on the list include the Christmas Jam recipe (photo from Country Woman as I have forgotten to take a photo before) and madeleines.  I've collected madeleine pans through the years (I think I have one for regular size cookies and two for miniatures... or is it the other way around?).  We'll see if there is enough time for those to be added, although it would be lovely.

Below are links to some of my favorite Christmas recipes and then my favorite shortbread recipe (with a variation) is included here.  It needs to be added to the recipe blog.  ;)

Christmas Jam... here.
Candied Cranberries... here.
Cranberry Bread and Pumpkin Bread... here.
Rachel Ray's Fudge... here.
Beverly Nye's Candy... here.

Cookies made from my mold last year.

Lemon Shortbread
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar (unsifted)
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 cup flour (unsifted)

Cream the butter until it is light.  Mix in the powdered sugar and the grated lemon peel.  Slowly work in the flour.  Knead the dough on unfloured board until nice and smooth.

If baking in a mold, spray the mold lightly with a veggie oil spray.  Press the dough into the shortbread pan firmly.  Prick the entire surface with a fork, and bake the shortbread right in the pan at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until just lightly browned.

Let the shortbread cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before loosening the edges with a knife and flip the pan over carefully.  Cut the shortbread into serving pieces while it is still warm (or as I plan to do this year, leave it intact for the design and let the recipients just break off pieces of the cookie later).

Shortbread cookies can also be made by rolling out the dough, cutting with a small cookie cutter, and baking at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

Another version of shortbread can be made with the following ingredients, baking as per instructions above:

Classic Shortbread
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar (unsifted)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour (unsifted)

Both versions of shortbread are recipes from Brown Bag Cookie Art and came with the shortbread mold.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Novel Interiors: Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired by Literature, a review


The idea for this book is truly inspired.  Choosing rooms that are similar to those described by works of great literature.  I must admit, it intrigued me to see what the author would come up with.

I found this book a delightful read.  An excellent coffee table book that would create conversation if left out for guests to peruse.  But also containing enough decorating advice that one would enjoy picking it up on a snowy evening while sipping hot chocolate and losing oneself in the photos.

Imagine rooms inspire by L. M. Montgomery, or Elizabeth Gaskell, or Jane Austen, or F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Willa Cather... to name only a few authors of novels who inspired the rooms showcased in this book.

The title of the Introduction explains the contents a little bit more, "We Don't Just Read a Great Story, We Inhabit It".  The various section headings are as follows:
  • Shall I Put the Kettle On?  (British books, of course)
  • Remembrance of Things Past
  • Living au Naturel
  • Oh, the Glamour of It All
  • Anything Goes
  • Sometimes a Fantasy
I doubt few would use this book as a pure decorating source, rather it provides a look at what rooms describe in favorite novels would look like as shown in real life homes today.  Although it would also provide inspiration that one can pick and choose from the pages to try at home.

Now I do have one caveat about this book.  You most likely will look at some of the rooms representing a favorite novel and think it in no way is what you thought the home would look like.  For one of the joys of reading is to create our own backdrop mentally of what we think people, rooms, towns, etc. appear in our visualization. 

But the author creates rooms from the descriptions within the pages of the book, how she sees them represented.  Which may not completely agree with your ideas but are still authentic to the period.  I found it amusing that some of the rooms I definitely did not find attractive are associated with novels I didn't care for either.  Hmmm...

If you are looking for a unique Christmas gift this year for the Bibliophile in your life, this would be it.  I came away with not only an appreciation of the beautiful photography but a desire to read books listed within the pages I hadn't thought of adding to my list.

Further information about Novel Interiors at Amazon can be found... here.* 

This book was provided by the publisher for the purpose of review but the opinion is my own.

*Amazon Associate Link

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

My World this Week


After the past ten days whirlwind of activities, it is good to share another My World this Week blog post. I need long stretches of time to ponder and I must admit, re-entering the world of the fast lane made my head spin.  I must shake my head and wonder that I used to live that way each and every day of the year.  Amazing...

I decorated a lot this year, even the front porch is spruced up with lots of red and green.  It just felt right this Season to fully embrace all it has to offer.  Now, when all of it must be repacked to return to its' home on the shelves in the garage come January, I may think just the tree would have sufficed.

This is what has been happening in my world for ummm... more than a week... as seen through the lens of my camera.

Reading

I was so busy, I needed to reread something encouraging and this book is a favorite, I think this was my third re-read.  I kept it up on the Kindle to read off and on when I had an opportunity.

More info on Amazon... here.*  I noticed the Kindle version is discounted!  Since I reread it, one of my prayers has been for pixie dust each day.  ;)

Thrifting
Purchased last summer for a couple dollars, came out for the Thanksgiving table.  It is a small-ish vintage platter, perfect for the presentation of carved turkey.

The Study
The stand with the plant had to temporarily come in here... it may be permanent!

Decorating
You should see this at night with the reflection of the tree against the hurricane lamps.


Old Friends
Cross stitched when Stephanie was a baby.

Starbucks Christmas cup, need I say more?

He makes me quite happy.

From my very small vintage collection.

Made when Christopher was a baby.

Her Fluffiness
 
She is such the little helper! 

*Amazon Associate link

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Sunday Afternooon Tea - Why I Celebrate Christmas

This is a repeat of a Christmas post from a couple of years ago but it is dear to my heart... so I share it once again.

Someone had mentioned in a comment about a person who does not celebrate during the Holidays due to the pagan beginnings of the DAY chosen to celebrate the birth of Christ.  I have known people with whom I agreed on most areas of theology but in this area, we had to agree to disagree.

I celebrated wholeheartedly... they did not.

Now, I admit to finding Church history fascinating so I hope I don't bore you with some details.  We know the most probable reason for choosing the time of year we celebrate the birth of Christ was for it to coincide with the Winter Solstice celebrations already in place.

No one knew exactly the date of Christ's birth but most historians believe it was in the Spring since the shepherds were watching over their sheep.   There are some who think it may have been in the fall.

The date was not chosen for it to be part of a pagan celebration, it was really chosen as a matter of convenience... and even then the date was intermingled with other Church feasts and celebrations such as Epiphany.

The point is, the original season and date has nothing to do about honoring the birth of Christ.  It's much like my calling Easter, well... Easter.  I have friends who will only call it Resurrection Day because the name Easter was associated with something more pagan.  I respect them and thus, their theology.

But Easter was never pagan in my little part of the world!  The most pagan my celebration of Easter becomes is when I color some eggs (the sign of new life among pagans... and farmers) and pretend the Easter bunny brought candy (believe me, my children knew it was Mother).

I know as Christians we have a range of ideas about the elephant in the room called Santa.  I just tend to love a little fantasy here and there, a little pretend, a lot of sparkle.  We never did the Santa thing but Mother was known to tell kids Santa just may stop by to fill stockings (wink, wink).  I mean, really... with a wink and a nod to "let's have a little fun here and use our imagination".

In no way was Santa ever given credit for buying and wrapping gifts.  I was too selfish cheap frugal to give anyone else the credit for that other than parents, grandparents, friends, etc.!  I was even careful when my children were small not to decorate so Santa would be the center of attention.

Although come to think of it, they may have thought I worshiped snowmen in the bleak midwinter... but that is another source of pondering.  ;)

By the way, do you know the true story of Saint Nicholas?  I know it can be difficult to cut through what is truth and legend but still his story is wonderful and well worth reading this time of year.

Okay, then we get to the whole Christmas tree has pagan roots, etc.  If you are a Druid then... yes... when you put up that Christmas tree each year you definitely are worshiping your Druid god.

But the closest I ever get to becoming a Druid is singing along with the John Denver on the itty bitty iPod while walking through the forest.  I can definitely understand how one who does not know the One True God would try to create one in such Beauty.

However, did you know St. Bonifice used the evergreen tree to teach about the trinity (triangle... tree... get it?).    Did you know that Martin Luther brought a tree in his house and lit candles on it at Christmas to represent how the stars lit up the dark night?

I love how a person described it on a show about Christmas traditions and using trees (and other greenery) in decorating our homes for the Season.  He said pagans may have used these items to worship the sun but in our homes, we worship the Son.

If you read the New Testament, especially the writings of St. Paul, he is brought up with these same situations many times.  Not with Christmas, of course, but in the conflicts between what is under the Law and what is under the new Grace brought about by Christ.

His answer is often this, do what you believe you are free to do while not causing a brother (who does not have such freedom) to stumble.  For me in the 21st Century, this means celebrating Christmas and Easter and any other Holiday my way but giving you the grace to celebrate (or in this case, not celebrate) in your way.

The only times there would be real concern is when the one who does or does not celebrate thinks they are "holier than thou" and the peace of the Season is destroyed by one who feels their way is the only way.  (How many times have Christians won an argument only to lose another for the Kingdom of Christ, it has to make God weep.)

To be honest, I don't know how any Holiday in which one is pointed toward the Savior for weeks and weeks can be a bad thing.  How can a Season when one turns on the car radio and hears Silent Night or Oh, Come All Ye Faithful be against our Lord? That is why those who hate the Christian religion hate Christmas and have tried for years to legislate it out of existence in the Public Square.

My friend, Linda, has heard me wax poetic about legalism most likely more than she cares.  But I saw what it did to my mother and thus to my siblings from her first marriage.  Legalism rarely (if ever) draws one to the Cross.  Instead it acts as the opposite side of the magnet and pushes them away from Truth... leading one toward the darkness and away from the true Light.

Our God is a source of all joy!  "Every good and perfect gift is from above... (James 1:17).  When everything around us is pointing to the Savior... it is a perfect gift.

So, why would God allow the church to celebrate in the bleak Midwinter?  I don't know, perhaps He knew this world... in its' darkness... would "need a little Christmas, right this very minute" throughout the centuries.

Think of all the celebrations, the Feasts, the Days of Remembrance among the Jewish people.   If anything, God certainly understands Holidays that are meant for remembering.  They were His idea... the very God who was delighted when King David danced.


If Christ's birth was in the Spring, He has given us another celebration during that time, you know.  It is a celebration of an event that happened during Passover two centuries ago, and whether you call it Easter or Resurrection Day, we are to...
Celebrate!!!

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Pantry Lifestyle - When You Have Nothing to Give

This post is from a few years ago but I had a lot of comments and e-mails from readers who said it sparked their imagination for gift giving on a very limited budget.  Mine is even more limited now since we have to pay insurance premiums.

In our materialistic society, we most often think we have to make a purchase to give or the gift is will not be appreciated. Actually, I have found that not to be true in most cases. Yes, there are those around who may not appreciate fresh baked cookies but let's be honest... do you want those people as friends? So they are family and you are stuck with them... pray for their materialism and offer them a cookie, anyway. They may learn someday.

Here are some ways I've learned to be a giver, even with a very limited income...

When I do have "extra" cash, I stock the pantry (shelves, frig, deep freeze) with simple items which... when mixed together... create magic (Narnia magic). Isn't it absolutely remarkable the number of recipes which can be made from: eggs, butter, milk or cream, various sugars, flour, flavor extracts, nuts, dried fruit, yeast, etc.?

Throughout the year I'm always looking for inexpensive containers, suitable for giving gifts of baked goods. For instance, last year I hit a clearance sale at Wal Mart and purchased a couple dozen pretty red trays for a dime each. I gave many of them to Stephanie as a gift since she often takes baked goods to people.

When I can get a good deal on fresh fruits, I like to "can" jellies and jams. People love these.

A blog friend sent me honey and homemade soap from her farm... LOVED it!

Other gifts I give with little or no money:

Books from the book sales or purchased with Amazon credit.
Items purchased at garage sales and while thrifting that I know people would love.
A pretty mug or teacup from my own collection with a box of favorite tea or hot chocolate.
A basket filled with a favorite snack (like puppy chow... yum) made "from scratch".

I used to make teddy bears, angels, small quilts, and other sewn items.
My first gift to my husband (before he was my husband) was a crocheted scarf... which he still has. :)
I've given a gift of recipe cards written with favorite family recipes.
My daughter received a "cookbook" from our good friend for a wedding gift that she had written with their favorite recipes... all printed from her computer.

Stuff to do as gifts

Offer to babysit the kiddies.
Sit with an elderly or ill person so their caregiver can get relief.
Read to someone who can't read for themselves... young or old.
Offer to scrub a floor or paint a room.
Trim bushes and trees for someone who can no longer get around easily.

Put up a Christmas tree for a friend who is not handy about such things.
Share extra decorations with a friend who has none.
Hang the Christmas lights for the elderly neighbor who can no longer hang them.

Write letters to people who would love to hear from you.
Send a pretty card to an elderly relative or friend.
Give forgiveness to someone who needs to hear those words.

Listen to a teenager, really listen.
Ask an elderly relative to share family history and write it down.
Collect family recipes and type them into the computer... give copies to loved ones.

Encourage your children to draw pictures for Grandma and Grandpa... and send them.

If you have a green thumb, take starts from your flowers (in season) and start them in your home, give to a neighbor or family member when they are ready.

Yes, it takes creative thinking but you can give... even if it a prayer.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Storm: Hearing Jesus for The Times We Live In by Jim Cymbala, a review


There is no doubt the Church in America is in free-fall today with numbers declining and our youth bailing out at a rapid rate.  In his book, Storm, Pastor Jim Cymbala of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church shares his take on why the Church is no longer the salt and light in society it once was. 

Using the back story of going through Hurricane Sandy in New York, Pastor Cymbala views the current state of the church from the viewpoint of an approaching storm with chapter headings such as:
  • Storm Approaching
  • Storming Heaven
  • A Light in the Storm
  • Into the Darkest Night
  • Watches and Warnings
  • A Fog of Confusion
  • Coming on the Clouds
  • ... and many more.
The book is not only a conversation about what is wrong with the church today and what perhaps can fix it but it also contains many stories of lives changed through the ministry at Brooklyn Tabernacle.  They were all fascinating and a real witness to the power of God.

Which basically is why he says the Church is failing.  We have turned to programs and growing church numbers and left behind prayer meetings and the preaching of the pure Gospel.  And if you doubt this... you will find the statistics he gives alarming.

He does not leave us without hope that with prayer and preaching, the American Church will experience once again a Great Awakening and return to its' position as salt and light.  Not to take over politics or Hollywood or even local government.  But to change lives with the purity of the work of Jesus in the lives of people.

I don't read many books about the Church these days but I am very glad I read this one! 

For further information, follow this link to Amazon... here*

This book was provided by the publisher for the purpose of review but the opinion is my own.

*All links to Amazon are Associate Links.  Which means I receive a tiny percentage of the sale but it costs you nothing.  For which I thank you muchly.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

I'm Here! Really. Honest.

My Christmas tree back when it was on the porch.
It is only the 4th of December and it already seems like a tidal wave of activities have overtaken my time.  This has been one of those weeks when I was out and about more than usual.  With a couple more errands to do today.

And then there was the decorating of the house... at one time it looked like the North Pole had exploded and landed in every room but our bedroom and the tiny office.  I did that on purpose, knowing if I got every Christmas box out and put them in the middle of the family room, I would slowly get the decorating accomplished.  Decorate a little... rest... decorate a little... rest, etc.

So over the period of three days, I unpacked the look and feel of Christmas.  The tree lights this year didn't work (fortunately I found out before putting the ornaments on the tree, next year I will test them immediately).  I was finally able to make a quick run to Meijers to purchase a couple of boxes yesterday.  The tree will be decorated today and I can hardly wait.

When I assembled the tree this year, my husband remarked at how pathetic it looks.  It is the epitome of a Charlie Brown tree.  I reminded him this is the same tree we used to put out on the porch each year (photo above).  I started using it inside a few years ago and you know, once it is decorated it really looks fine.  Just like Charlie Brown's tree.

This is a year I wanted glitter and glowing and all things that sparkle.  This is a year to decorate.  Some years?  Bleh... no thanks.  There have been a few Christmas seasons I forced myself to put the tree up and get it decorated.  Last year was one of those.

A few dear blog friends noticed a different sound to my posts this year and you are right.  I'm a little more ho-ho-ho this year and less Bah Humbug. 

While I do love Advent readings and calendars and such, my Inner Calendar for the Christmas Holidays begins with Christopher's birthday (sometimes on Thanksgiving), then Thanksgiving, then Stephanie's birthday, then my mother's birthday (even though she has been in Heaven for many years), and now my daughter-in-law's birthday, then Christmas.

In the midst of busyness, I did want to pop in and send out a hello.  I still need to finish the last few chapters of my next review book.  It will get posted tomorrow (Friday).  See you then!