DAY 10 – BLOGMAS 2017 – HANDMADE GIFTS

HANDMADE CHRISTMAS FAVORITES

Over the years I have made everything, and I do mean everything at one time or another to create a handmade Christmas. I’ve made rolls and rolls of butcher paper into wrapping paper, cut grocery bags into handmade tags, made enough fudge, candies and cookies to feed a small country, as well as jams, jellies, soup mixes and Snowman soup!

My award winning jams were requested one year at the Church Christmas Boutique and I ended up selling them every year for another 10 years before we moved.  Now I make just enough for gifts for neighbors and family.  I started making Snowman Soup about 20 years ago for the girl scouts and it was a HUGE seller at our gift wrap days and later for the Church Boutique.

For the things I didn’t make myself, I at least bought from local crafters.
As for receiving, I love ANYTHING handmade.  I’m a BIG believer that it’s the thought that counts and that caring action ALWAYS touches my heart though I’m partial to cotton crocheted dishcloths, my brothers photographs, my mom’s quilted totes and ANYTHING food.

DAY 9 ~ BLOGMAS 2017 ~ WINTER WONDERLAND MEMORY PICTURES

I can’t actually get to the disks with pictures from some of our more favorite Christmases so will share these 2013 ones with you.  This was a great year as we actually had lots of snow in Oregon. We loved living so close to the Christmas tree farm also.  Beautiful trees for reasonable costs unlike here.

The year had been VERY wet which is the normal, but an arctic storm blew in and all of a sudden everything turned white. This was our first snowstorm of the season, just before Christmas.
Hubby made this heart for me to wake up to in the back yard before the snow got too bad.

The house across the street usually looks REALLY horrible, but NOT when it’s under a blanket of snow.

Unfortunately, being in a cul-de-sac, delivery tracks leave MANY tire tracks at this time of year to mar the beautiful snow cover.
Even Rudolph was shivering!
Even Rudolph was shivering!
The first day after he storm was absolutely gorgeous though! This is one of my favorite pictures. The duck pond behind the neighborhood was truly a work of art.
Obviously we hadn’t gone anywhere – no tire tracks!
The fish ladder was like glass with the cold and ice.

DAY 8 – BLOGMAS 2017 – FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY

WOW there are so many! My very first personal is when I was 9, my aunt coming to visit from Texas around that same time and sitting on the floor in a leather dress playing Barrel of Monkeys with the younger kids or maybe the year I got my first bike, whoops wait maybe that was the birthday before Christmas.

My grandfather worked for General Electric as an X-ray technician of sorts (he oversaw the installation and calibration of X-ray equipment) and one year he brought home a GE Snow tree and ornaments (I still don’t know the correlation between between being an X-ray technician and Christmas trees). Anyway this tree had a HUGE decorated cardboard base and once the tree was up and decorated you filled this base with thousands of tiny Styrofoam balls and when you turned the switch on the tree would make it’s own snow.  As a kid I thought it was pretty cool, but as an adult I look back and realize what a MESS it made!! Especially when the wind was blowing and static electricity was high – those damn balls stuck to EVERYTHING!

But wait, that is not my favorite memory.  It turns out that my favorite memory is of trying to stump my dad each year with his gift – it became a mission of sorts to be the first to stump him.  I swear the man was Carnac when it came to knowing what was inside a box. We tried EVERY year to stump him and I don’t remember ever being able to do it.  We tried adding bricks, taping a silver dollar with duct tape to the bottom so it would flip back and forth to make noise when you shook it, adding a pair of shoes… but he ALWAYS guessed!  I don’t know how he did it.

DAY 7 ~ BLOGMAS 2017 ~ FAVORITE STORIES

This story originally came across my email and I was reminded that it is a beautiful way to celebrate Christmas Holiday spirit so I thought I’d share. This is such a beautiful story that makes you understand that things truly do happen for a reason. Don’t forget to grab the tissue box.

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.

They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc… and on December 18th they were ahead of schedule and just about finished.

On December 19th a terrible tempest – a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days.

On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.

The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.

By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc… to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area.

Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet.. ‘Pastor,’ she asked, ‘where did you get that tablecloth?’ The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria.

The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the Tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. He was captured, sent to prison and she never saw her husband or her home again.

The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth, but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a house cleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving.

The man asked him where he got the Tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike.

He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between.

The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier.

He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

This true Story was submitted by Pastor Rob Reid.

 TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

DAY 6 ~ BLOGMAS 2017 ~ WISH LIST

Participating in BLOGMAS helps get me in and keep me in the Christmas spirit. There is a new prompt for each day.  It is a lot of fun to read about each other’s traditions and family recipes and pictures.

This year we are forgoing BIG gifts again and doing stockings only since this house has eaten up all our disposable cash so fast!  We are planning trips after the first of the year to decide 100% where we are going though and calling it our Christmas present to each other.

DAY 5 ~ BLOGMAS 2017 ~ MUST HAVES

What I CANNOT live without in winter is many many things, but these are my top items! The one thing I am absolutely sure of is that if I have a sore throat, dry skin, cold feet or hands, cold food or catch a cold I am NOT happy.

I drink a cup of green tea every night and try to make very balanced comfort food meals to warm up my family from the inside out.  Here are a few of our favorite soups and stews links for you.

Split Pea Soup  

Red Chicken Chili

Black Eyed Pea Chili

Tomato Spinach Soup  

Navy Bean & Ham Soup

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo  

DAY 4 ~ BLOGMAS 2017 ~ FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MOVIES

Today’s category is an easy one for me.  I start taping Christmas movies on Lifetime, Hallmark and INSP as soon as they air so I can watch all year long.  I’m a sucker for a happy ending and let’s face it, Christmas movies have happy endings.

So this list could be reallllllllllly long, but I will just keep it to the top 5 MUST watch each and every year movies.

It’s a toss up for me about whether White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Vera Ellen and Danny Kaye or It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart, Lionel Barrymore and Donna Reed is my absolute favorite, but I think I’m leaning towards It’s a Wonderful life!
Which Miracle on 34th street version (the original with Natalie Wood or the remake with Richard Attenborough) is the best?  BOTH versions of course!
The Santa Clause with Tim Allen quickly became a favorite – who could resist visiting the North Pole every year?
 Now Home Alone is just silly, but it never fails to make me laugh!

DAY 3 ~ BLOGMAS 2017 ~ FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MUSIC

I’m all over the place with Christmas music – depends on the day, the occasion, my mood, what food we’re eating – just sooooooooo many factors! BUT, I do like it to wait until at least the day after Thanksgiving!
I love the old standards, but I also love country Christmas and Mannheim Steamroller.  I love Christmas carolers, not that you see many these days.  I was even part of the handbell choir at church for Christmas programs.
As for favorite songs I have a few that top the list:
  • Silent Night
  • White Christmas
  • Jingle Bell Rock
  • Winter Wonderland
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • Little Drummer Boy
  • The twelve days of Christmas
  • Deck the Halls
  • Come All Ye Faithful
  • It Came upon a Midnight Clear
  • We three Kings of Orient
  • Joy to the World
  • Rudolph the Reindeer
  • Do You Hear What I Hear
  • The Most Wonderful Time of Year
  • It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas
  • Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

DAY 2 ~ BLOGMAS 2017 – CHRISTMAS MEANING

Christmas is the most important holiday to me and not because Santa comes, though that is pretty important to the kiddos, but more importantly, it’s a caring spirit, a sharing feeling, an attitude that I try to practice all year long.  I truly feel good about giving – whether it’s the Angel trees I select gifts for or the smile from the Salvation Army bell ringer as you put your money in their red bucket and wish them Merry Christmas.

For 10 years I chaired an Angel Tree Program for FISH and I loved doing it! I prepared for it every year and I truly believe each year got better and better.  The night before we distributed the gifts I would go shopping for the teenage girls.  We were ALWAYS lacking in gifts for the teen girls no matter what we tried to boost things up for them.  So now when I choose the angels from the trees in the community I seek out the teenage girls specifically.

Christmas means lots and lots of memories of family, some no longer with us, but always in my heart when I hang an ornament they made especially for me like my cousin Beth who we lost in October or a recipe that they always prepared like my dad’s Oatnut Sourdough Herb Dressing or Gram’s Christmas box full of goodies picked out just for each one of us or…

One of the things I try to practice is to make at least one homemade gift each year – nothing extravagant, but just something that says “I MADE THIS with LOVE JUST FOR YOU“.

The years that I host Christmas include a lot of family recipes.  But,  most importantly, Christmas is the spirit of Love and Giving and it must be felt and shared. Christmas is a gift from above and each year as I grow older I realize more and more that Christmas is about Love, Peace, Sharing, Caring and just being together.


May we ALL carry the spirit of Christmas in our hearts all throughout the year by remembering the REAL reason for the season.
I found this story years ago over at Heather’s blog Family Forever , now a closed blog, but I kept it to remind me to remember this for the future.
I think next year that many of my gifts will be given in the same manner as my family really doesn’t ‘need’ anything, but so many others do. Don’t forget your tissue box as you read this story.
The Simple White Envelope
It’s just a small white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas –oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it — the overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma — the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties, and so forth.. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended.

Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, ‘I wish just one of them could have won,’ he said. ‘They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.’ Mike loved kids — all kids — and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball, and lacrosse.

That’s when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition –one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknown to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope. Mike’s giving spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

May we all remember Christ, who is the reason for the season, and the true Christmas spirit this year and always.

DAY 1 ~ BLOGMAS 2017 ~COUNTDOWN SCHEDULE

For the last several years I have done “BLOGMAS” over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom.  This year I decided to do BLOGMAS, but with my own list.

Unfortunately the surgery I should have had months ago is now scheduled 5 days from now. So, a few categories will be a little off this year, but I’m going to do them anyway. Christmas will be quiet for us this year, but one the best days of the year for us.

These are things that I begin right after Thanksgiving, but I thought it was the best prompt for today. I almost feel guilty that almost ALL of them are accomplished.  With the surgery though I HAVE to be ready way ahead of time! As for this year’s prompt I do both homemade and store bought depending on what someone wants and/or needs.

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CORN FLAKE HOLLY WREATHS

Christmas is right around the corner so I thought I’d share one of my favorite holiday recipes. My great aunt who I only got to see a couple times a year used to make these every year special for me and I would wait out on the front steps for her arrive just to see them and know they were there. She always made them soooooooooo pretty and perfect!  They are delicious and they are a quick, easy, no bake treat and they’re so pretty to add to the cookie & candy tray selections.

CORN FLAKE HOLLY WREATHS
(these are better when they are made a few days ahead)

30 large marshmallows (or 3 cups mini marshmallows or 1 jar marshmallow cream)
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon green food color
3 1/2-4 cups cornflakes
Red Hots or sprinkles for decorating
  • Combine marshmallows, butter, vanilla and food color in top of double boiler.
  • Heat and stir frequently until well blended.
  • Gradually stir in cornflakes until well blended.
  • Drop onto wax paper and arrange into wreath shapes. I plop them onto the wax paper and then push out from the center to form the wreaths.
  • Decorate with red hots.
  • Let cool.
  • If your house is warm – chill in refrigerator until set.

Linking up to FULL Plate Thursday.

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