HAPPY HOMEMAKER & MENU PLAN MONDAY ~ WEEK 1 of 2017

I hope everyone had a WONDERFUL Christmas and a safe and HAPPY NEW YEAR
We had a quiet New Year, at least as far as the 2 of us were concerned. We went to a neighbor’s house early for a little get together, but were home for the actual event which was good as the neighborhood was alive with fireworks and gun fire.  When will people realize the dangers of both?  I wasn’t too worried about the fireworks as it was raining, but the gun shots made me cringe.  What goes up will come down.
Did you know about the NEVER ON SUNDAY rule for the Tournament of Roses Parade and bowl game? This will be the 15th time this rule has come into play since its inception.  Originally the rule was made to prevent horses “parked” outside of churches from being spooked along the parade route as people attended church.
I also brought the BEFORE & AFTER of this house up to date in a post this past weekend. I should have done it room by room instead of all at once.  I can’t wait to be able to do an AFTER & DONE post!
Now it’s on to the business of 2017.

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW & THE WEATHER OUTSIDE
The weather is gray, cloudy, windy and super thunderstormy, but at least it is a bit cooler than it has been.

ON THE BREAKFAST PLATE
An English muffin and peanut butter with COFFEE of course.

AS I LOOK AROUND THE HOUSE
I am VERY pleased.  Everyone is gone now and Carlie has settled in well.  The tree is down which is unusual for us since we usually wait until King’s Day or so, but this year it was practical. All the Christmas decorations have been packed away and those that are being donated are in the car ready to drop off.

WEEKLY TO DO LIST & HOUSE PROJECTS

  • GET NEW PHONE!! Mine is OLD, won’t hold a charge, changes the settings on its own…, but I wasn’t going near a phone store until the holidays were over!
  • Start on studio organization. You may see this EVERY week for a while.  That room has become the catch all of the house and will takes WEEKS if not MONTHS to get handled.
  • Work on new Website.
  • Start leveling backyard.

CURRENTLY READING & TELEVISION / DVR
I’m between books again and the old standards will begin again this week as well as the final season of GRIMM.

We finally dealt with the wire mess around the TV and hooked up the WiiU as well as Amazon Prime.  So far have found Goliath with Billy Bob Thorton and The Man in the High Castle (I LOVE anything WWII) that are catching our interest.

CRAFTS & PROJECTS
Soon, really soon.

MENU PLANS FOR THE WEEK

 
MONDAY
TUESDAY
WEDNESDAY
THURSDAY
FRIDAY
SATURDAY
SUNDAY
BREAKFAST
YOGURT & FRUIT
SCRAMBLED EGGS & CHEESE
FRUIT SMOOTHIE
YOGURT & FRUIT
MAPLE OATMEAL & RAISINS
BREAKFAST CASSEROLE old family recipe – link to follow soon
BACON & EGGS
LUNCH
FRUIT & CHEESE
SOUP & CRACKERS
SANDWICH
OUT
MEAT & CHEESE
LEFTOVERS
SANDWICHES
DINNER


CHICKEN FRIED CHICKEN, MASHED POTAOES, PEPPERED GRAVY & GREEN BEANS
C.O.R.N.
BLACK EYED PEA CHILI & GRILLED CHEESE
WHITE CHICKEN LASAGNA new recipe link to follow soon & SALAD
C.O.R.N.
DESSERT
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

HEALTH & BEAUTY TIPS

HOMEMAKING/COOKING TIP

ON MY MIND
I’m praying for a good start to the new year and getting this house finished before the hot weather sets in.  I’m also concerned for my uncle who appears to be exhibiting all the classic tell tell signs of dementia and Alzheimers, but is also stubborn as a mule and won’t recognize the need for medical help.

THINGS THAT ARE MAKING ME HAPPY

  • Every morning when I get up and feel the wonderfully plush carpet under my toes I realize the house is almost done.
  • I’m loving the research into a new place to call home and a new house.

FAVORITE PHOTO FROM THE CAMERA
Hubby took this beautiful dramatic shot of the clouds out back.

INSPIRATION

Be sure to link up with Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Happy homemaker Monday and with Laura at I’m an Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

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BEFORE AND AFTER UPDATE ~ AKA WHAT DID WE GET OURSELVES INTO?????

Our original thought as we walked through the door (after braving the jungle of a backyard) 431 days ago was WTF did we get ourselves into here.  We were weary and tired, the dogs and cat were miserable after 6 days on the road.  We honestly considered turning around and going straight back to Oregon for about 10 minutes, but that made us even more tired when we thought about it. ALSO, we had moving trucks from where we had things stored in two different states already on the way and had already spent a fortune to get here.  PLUS this was to help family so we stayed to see it through and have been working REALLY hard ever since.  I know grams is no longer turning in her grave at what her house became and is resting peacefully seeing it restored.

Coming here was supposed to accomplish three things.  The first being a place for us to settle and re-group our life after the Cancer, multiple surgeries, years of care giving for multiple people and have time to deal with the VA claim from hell.  Well, that has YET to happen as we have spent every waking hour just making this place livable. The second was to be near family – the same family that now that we’re here can’t seem to take time to spend together unless there’s an emergency. The third was to help out my aunt and uncle after my cousin’s death.  My uncle had his hands FULL since my aunt’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.  We were glad we could be here to help him especially after the fall that shattered her knee, the surgery for that along with the hospitalization and skilled nursing for the infection that ultimately took her life.  We did NOT expect him to decide two weeks later he was getting re-married and moving 5 states away.

You know how people say you’ll never use algebra after you get out of school? Well, I’m here to prove them wrong.  I loved word problems and algebraic equations and find I really do use them all the time.  This house is a perfect example.

X (minimum cash outlay) + Y (reasonable sweat labor done at a reasonable pace) + Z (fair price) = (PLACE TO SETTLE at a reasonable cost while helping family)

Seems like a simple equation right? That was before when my uncle said all the fixtures, appliances and flooring were good.  He did say the garage and backyard needed some cleanup as well as the house needing cleaned up and painted. He did NOT say that the garage leaked like a sieve and would also need major work.

So now factor in the ALL the things he DIDN’T tell us about “correctly” – like ALL fixtures, appliances, flooring, windows and doors, electrical and plumbing needing to be replaced, city and county code infractions, major drywall repair, bug and rodent infestation, as well as the fact that my cousin was a pack rat/hoarder who didn’t clean and that it would take 2 1/2 months of 12+ hour days, 7 days a week JUST to clear out ALL her trash and potential donations, not to mention the $900 or so of beer and soda to keep the trash guys happy so they would take everything each trash day (which is twice a week fortunately) and that she was a chain smoker that left everything covered in a layer of tar and nicotine. So now the equation looks something like:

5X+ (maximum cash outlay) + 20Y+ (maximum sweat labor done at a breakneck pace just to make it livable) + 5Z+ (no longer a fair or reasonable price because uncle wants same amount he did originally = (PLACE TO FLIP because it has become a money pit) AND (leaving us completely upside down in time and financial means, but at least we helped family whether they appreciate it or not)

So on to the before and after pictures. Hubby is upset that the before pictures don’t truly show how HORRIBLY DISGUSTING this place really was. I just hope the after pictures show how truly GREAT it is now – it really is turn key now!

MASTER BEDROOM & BATHROOM BEFORE

There was “STUFF” everywhere!  The walls where all stained from who knows what and the carpeting was full of melted wax and cigarette burns even in the closet.  I have to say that my cousin was evidently suffering from some form of mental illness because this is NOT how she was raised!

The picture above is what I got out of the bedroom carpet on the first pass of available floor with my Rainbow Water Vacuum. Disgusting does not begin to describe how it looked or felt.  Below was just one of the cracks to be repaired that was caused by the foundation issues.

The master bathroom didn’t look too bad until you looked close or opened a door and saw all the mold in the wood. So, it ended up getting gutted too. It took me 2 weeks, but I did get the tile clean in the shower, but we still need to find someone to professionally refinish the tile.


MASTER BEDROOM & BATHROOM NOW 

Finally a new window and completed bedroom. We used wainscotting floor to ceiling for the new bathroom walls.

SPARE BEDROOM BEFORE

The spare bedroom was stacked to the ceiling with junk!  It also housed much of her “business” food products.  What was the city thinking when they gave her a food license to operate out of this house? Not to mention it is completely against the H.O.A. rules and regulations for this neighborhood. In the photo below the bottom left hand corner was mouse droppings. YUCK!!

SPARE BEDROOM NOW

KITCHEN/DINING/LAUNDRY AREA BEFORE
THERE WAS “STUFF” EVERYWHERE.  NOT ONE CABINET WAS CLEAN OR ORGANIZED .
THE CABINET HANDLES THAT WHERE THERE WERE GREASE AND DUST COATED. THE CABINET DOORS WERE HANGING BY A THREAD.

THE REFRIGERATOR WAS FULL OF SPOILED AND SPILLED FOOD, MILDEW AND MOLD – A SERIOUS SCIENCE PROJECT IN THE MAKING AND ONE THAT THIS IMMUNITY CHALLENGED GIRL WAS HAVING NO PART OF.  THE SEAL ON THE REFRIGERATOR DID NOT WORK AND HAD BEEN LEAKING OUT FOR SOME TIME. THE FREEZER WAS ANOTHER ISSUE TRYING TO GET THINGS OUT SINCE THEY HAD FROZEN INTO ONE BIG GLOB BECAUSE OF THE LEAKING SEAL.
This is the pantry floor as clean as it would get!  We scraped off all the linoleum and sanitized the foundation before re-flooring.
BEHIND THESE DOORS (which are off their hinges and just propped there) IS THE LAUNDRY AREA AND ONE OF THE SCARIEST LOOKING AREAS.  THERE WAS A RATS NEST UNDER THE COLLAPSING, NOT TO CODE WATER HEATER base.  THE DRYER WAS NOT VENTED TO THE OUTSIDE AND HAD NOT BEEN FOR SOME TIME AS THE LINT WAS EVERYWHERE AND THE WASHER LEAKED LIKE A SIEVE!

This 10 pound bag of sugar was spilled ALL over a pantry shelf and was one of the biggest sources for the ants, cockroaches and mice.

KITCHEN/DINING/LAUNDRY NOW
STUDIO BEFORE
STUDIO NOW
ATRIUM BEFORE
ATRIUM NOW

 

FOYER BEFORE

The door would no longer open due to the foundation issues and she used this 24 square feet (8×3) as a “CAT BOX” area.  I hate to admit that this was the MOST disgusting of ALL the house and required several bottles of hydrogen peroxide etcher after we removed the toxic 2 layers of tiles.

FOYER AFTER

New floor, new door and new paint are done and looking good. I LOVE how much light the new door lets in.

LIVING ROOM BEFORE

These are cracks, tears and stains in the atrium/living room carpeting.

It took weeks/months to get the living room to this organized point LOL.  Notice the crack near the vent?  It went all the way to the floor and was 3 inches wide.  It is also why we waited over 3 months for the highly recommended dry wall guy that turned out to be a HUGE joke. The picture below is the living room after we finally got it emptied and ready to start painting.

This is one of 3 sections of the living room carpet that had melted candle wax all over it.  She had just arranged the furniture over it.

 

LIVING ROOM NOW
We made built in cabinets in the living room to hold things like the DVD player, WiiU, movies and games, etc…

I could not get Whiskey to move so she’s in the picture! There are still many Christmas things sitting around as I get them pack up to put away, but all in all it’s looking good.

SPARE BATH  BEFORE

There was a funky built in area above the tub for linens that needed to be removed and the walls had to be re-done after the 2 layers of wall paper were removed and the wall board was peeling away. 

SPARE BATH NOW
GARAGE  BEFORE

This was after hubby spent 4 weeks cleaning and and making a path for donation and trash.

GARAGE NOW

Hubby has done wonders at creating a neat and organized garage!

It took months to get to this freezer and then weeks to get into it.  The key wouldn’t work!  Turns out the seal had failed and there was a HUGE layer of ice sealing it shut.  It then took hubby days to chip away ALL the ice and bag the food that was there. 

We are SO thankful for our trash guys.  For a case of beer and soda twice a week they took ALL we gave them.  Way more than they were supposed to or should have.  We thank them for going ABOVE and BEYOND!

ATTIC
From this point in the attic you can turn 3 directions, but they all look about the same.  We got as much stuff out of the attic as the house it seemed. It is now ALMOST empty except for some insulation that needs bagged and the storage boxes I added just around the opening for when we move.
I tried to salvage these globes covered in nicotine and dirt, but in the end it was a lost cause.
JUST A TYPICAL TRASH DAY.  It looked like this, sometimes double this EVERY! trash day (2 times a week) for 9 months!
The wiring had to be all re-done as gramps and possibly Beth’s boyfriend, Tom had done some really scary Mickey Mouse jobs that left us thankful the place hadn’t been burnt to the ground.  We found an awesome Electrician and while Tommy was expensive, he is a Master Electrician and left us with a safe feeling allowing us to sleep at night.

This was the path hubby created through to the back gate. We are anxious to get this area done next month.  Right now it is empty, but very uneven so we will begin with 100 bags of leveling sand and see where it goes from there.

Did I ever mention that the neighbor next door in a 2 story tried to buy this place because he loved the floor plan, but my uncle wouldn’t sell until the foundation work was done? In ALL honestly this house would still be sitting here in the same condition we found it if we hadn’t come long when we did.  Unfortunately for us it appears my uncle does NOT appreciate any of this. He still wants more money than it was worth and said if he’d realized it’s condition, he would have just dumped it.  If that is the case I have to wonder why he didn’t sell to the next door neighbor to begin with and honestly if he’s going to “DUMP” it why not do so to the people who spent the money for the parts and labor AND did the back breaking work for a year?

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HAPPY HOMEMAKER and MENU PLAN MONDAY

I HOPE EVERYONE HAD A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS. It always seems so much better to me when Christmas falls on the weekend. We had a quiet weekend with just the 2 of us, football, church and a Christmas party on Saturday.  Christmas day was just us so I made a small Tropical pork roast with Potatoes AuGratin and maple glazed Brussels sprouts with cherry pie galette for dessert. We also watched my obligatory seasonal favorites It’s A Wonderful Life (1946), White Christmas (1954) and the original Home Alone (1990). Our family will be here to celebrate tomorrow.

Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel played a YULE LOG with puppies, kittens, and Christmas music for 24 hours which made good background.

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW & THE WEATHER OUTSIDE
Unfortunately it’s gray and warm with thunderstorms. I spent the entire Christmas season missing snow and cold.  I am really looking forward to next year being back in the Pacific Northwest or the North woods or somewhere cooler than here. I hope.

ON THE BREAKFAST PLATE
Some spam and scrambled eggs.

AS I LOOK AROUND THE HOUSE
I’m pretty happy.  Just a couple loads of laundry, vacuuming and general cleaning before family gets here for “Christmas”.

WEEKLY TO DO LIST & HOUSE PROJECTS
Nothing but enjoy family and help Carlie get settled in.

CURRENTLY READING & TELEVISION / DVR
I will finish up the Christmas movies on the DVR and hope to start a new book now that the holidays are quieter.

CRAFTS & PROJECTS
I’m going to start working on the studio in earnest after the first and hope to be “CRAFT READY” by the time we get back from our spring trip in April. This will be our first trip seeking out our final project house so we can leave this HOUSE FROM HELL behind us and settle for a long while.

KITCHEN WISHES
My Kitchen Aid Mixer is starting to give up the ghost.  As sad as that is, I have used it A LOT and for 23 years next month.  I purchased a professional model after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake demolished my kitchen and EVERYTHING in it as well as the rest of the house.  So, I guess I got my money’s worth, I’ve even painted it twice, but I will be sorry to see it go. I’m thinking about this pretty silver one. It’s not the professional model, but I do love the glass bowl! Glass bowls are so much easier to see that things are mixed well on the bottom.

MENU PLANS FOR THE WEEK

MONDAY
TUESDAY
WEDNESDAY
THURSDAY
FRIDAY
SATURDAY
SUNDAY
BREAKFAST
YOGURT & FRUIT
SCRAMBLED EGGS & CHEESE
BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
PUMPKIN BREAD FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE
C.O.R.N.
C.O.R.N.
PANCAKES, BACON & EGGS
LUNCH
FRUIT & CHEESE
SOUP & CRACKERS
??
??
MEAT & CHEESE
LEFTOVERS
SANDWICHES
DINNER
C.O.R.N.
ALOHA BBQ RIBS, WAGON WHEEL BEANS and CROCK POT LOADED POTATOES BACON & EGGS 
??
OUT
FREEZER SURPRISE
GRILLED STEAKS, BAKED POTATOES and CORN ON THE COB (hubby’s request for New Year’s Eve  at home)
BLACK EYED-PEA CHILI
DESSERT

SUCCESSFUL RECIPES and their links FROM LAST WEEK

HEALTH & BEAUTY TIPS

HOMEMAKING/COOKING TIP

THINGS THAT ARE MAKING ME HAPPY
January will be “GET A BACKYARD MONTH” and that is making me very happy!  There are only a few months of the year you can use a patio here, at least in my opinion, and February through April are it.  The backyard was just like the house and garage – completely overrun with a hoarders dream – STUFF.  It also had some structural issues that will need to be addressed first which will require a pallet of sand bags to be delivered to begin leveling it out.  We found this past week that the fence is riddled with termites so hubby has already started changing out the fence board by board.  All in ALL this will be a simpler project in concept, but harder in back breaking effort.  I also found a shade cloth that fits perfectly so we will be installing that too.  I will be thrilled if we can get the shade cloth, sand and fence done in January so we can lay pavers and sod in February.  That leaves March for sealing the garage floor.

FAVORITE PHOTO FROM THE CAMERA

I always have a lot of fun doing a long distance version of elf on the shelf for my favorite munchkins.  This year was twin elves, Ralph and Walter (names were borrowed from the show Scorpion). They made their way to Oregon in time for a Christmas surprise visit with their cousin Sam who spent last year with us before making his way to Oregon in time for Christmas 2015.

We had fun opening our gifts and stockings.  I especially love Sammy the owl and my new picture book from my favorite munchkins.

I LOVE my new glass art ornament from my brother and SIL – so cute.
INSPIRATION

Be sure to link up with Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Happy homemaker Monday and with Laura at I’m an Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

APPLE PIE SNICKERDOODLES and my new FAVORITE ornament

One of my favorite ALL time cookies is the Snickerdoodle.  One of the most versatile cookies, in my opinion, is the Snickerdoodle. You can change up the flavor for whatever holiday – pumpkin pie spice for fall, apple pie spice for for Christmas or Easter…, decorate or not, but according to hubby plain is BEST. I LOVE this time of year with ALL the baking and fun treats!

I also love that Victoria and Dave send a new unique snowflake in their Christmas card and I just ADORE my new FAVORITE ornament that my friend brought over for me.  She saw it at a boutique and said it reminded her of me – such a sweet thought and absolutely beautiful ornament.

APPLE PIE SNICKERDOODLES
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs, beating well after each addition.
  • Gradually add in flour mixture until well blended.

3-4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon apple pie spice

  • Combine sugar and apple pie spice until well blended.
  • Form cookie dough into small balls about walnut sized.
  • Roll each cookie ball in the sugar spice mixture and place on un-greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden.
  • Cool 2 minutes before placing on wire rack to cool completely.
  • Decorations are melted candy bark and sprinkle.

GINGERBREAD BARS

GINGERBREAD BARS
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons molasses
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
4 ounces crystallized ginger, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped candied lemon

OPTIONAL frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter. room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and ground ginger. 
  • Toss flour mixture with lemon and ginger pieces. Set Aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine butter, sugar, molasses and egg, beating until creamy.
  • Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture until well blended.
  • Press dough into an un-greased jelly roll pan. (15x10x10).
  • Bake 16-24 minutes or until evenly golden brown.
  • Top with powdered sugar or cream cheese frosting.

MOONSHINE FRUITCAKE

I KNOW, I know not everyone likes fruitcake and fruitcake has gotten a bad name over the years.  BUT, if you are willing to try it, this fruitcake will put all that to rest.  This is my new go to recipe.  I took all the parts from all my other fruitcake recipes and concocted this one. I have since tossed ALL the other recipes.

This fruitcake CANNOT be used as a doorstop because it is so moist, light and fluffy too. Nor will this fruitcake will last long enough to be passed around and down through the years because it is so flavorful.  This picture doesn’t do it any justice, but trust me it is SOOOOOO GOOD!

1/2 cup finely chopped candied red cherries
1/2 cup finely chopped candied green cherries
1/2 cup finely chopped candied lemon
1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup finely chopped candied ginger
1 cup golden raisins
2+ tablespoons coconut rum*
2+ tablespoons brandy*
2+ tablespoons spiced apple moonshine*

  • Toss fruit pieces together with the alcohol and soak for 24 hours. The fruit will soak up the alcohol and make an ooey gooey yummy mess.

1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup flour

  • Toss nut pieces with the flour.
  • Toss nut mixture with the ooey gooey fruit mess mixture.
  • Set aside.

1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons HIGH QUALITY cinnamon
1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice

  • Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.
  • Set aside.

1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups finely granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 cups applesauce
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 325°.
  • Grease and flour a 10 tube pan.**
  • Cream the butter.
  • Add the sugar and blend until uniform in color.
  • Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  • Add the applesauce and vanilla until well blended.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until well blended.
  • Fold in fruit and nut mixture until uniform in consistency.
  • Bake 60-65 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
  • Cool for 15 minutes on wire rack BEFORE inverting or removing from pan!

NOTES
*Or flavor choice of your liking
** I like to use many little loaf pans to use for neighbor gifts.

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BLOGMAS 2016 ~ DAY 23 ~ FAVORITE STORY & ANECDOTES

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

If you need a good Christmas laugh, check out this Jimmy Kimmel Christmas Prank video.

BLOGMAS 2016 ~ DAY 22 ~ PREPARING FOR CHRISTMAS

WOW seems like we just started this journey through BLOGMAS and here we are 3 days until Christmas.  Today and tomorrow are my BIG days preparing for Christmas.  These are the days that I’m mostly in the kitchen or cleaning the house, wrapping last minute packages or running last minutes errands for ingredients for the BIG DAY.  The only thing on my list that I didn’t accomplish was the cleaning so will spend all day tomorrow doing laundry, vacuuming and cleaning the bathrooms.

Remember when I told you I was a list girl?  Well, these help – A LOT!  I couldn’t get very good pictures, but those little presents are battery operated lights that change colors (red, blue and green) that I’m going to include on the plate when I deliver the goodies to the neighbors.  The purple list is accomplished and half the green list is done and will be finished up tomorrow and Wednesday.

This is Cinnamon Roll day too – YUMMY! One of my favorite days of the year.  The recipe originally came from one of my favorite aunts who taught me a lot about art, cooking and just plain being creative.  I have made a few minor updates to suit our tastes, but this recipe was ALL her and a secret that my cousin and I kept until the day she died.

ROLLS OF SHARON aka CINNAMON RAISIN BUNS
ROLLS
2 packages Fleischman’s Rapid Rise Yeast
1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup WARM water
1 cup scalded milk (2 minutes in the microwave)
1/2 cup Crisco stick
5 cups flour, divided
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon salt

  • In a small bowl combine the warm water, 2 teaspoons of sugar and both packages of yeast until well blended. Set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the scalded milk, Crisco stick, 1/2 cup sugar and salt. Blend well.
  • Add yeast mixture and blend well.
  • Add the well beaten eggs and half the flour. Mix until well blended.
  • Add the remaining flour (a little more if too sticky) and mix well until dough leaves the sides of the bowl and is elastic.
  • With vegetable oil, wipe the inside of another bowl.
  • Place dough in bowl and turn once.
  • Cover with wax paper and a towel.
  • Let rest in a warm place until double in size.
  • Punch down and divide into 2 balls.
  • Put one on the pastry board and one back in the bowl.
  • Let rest 10 minutes.
  • While resting prepare the filling ingredients.
  • Roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness in a rectangle about 18×24 inches.
  • Spread half the melted butter over the dough and sprinkle with half the cinnamon sugar.
  • Spread half the raisins over that.
  • Roll tightly jelly roll style and cut into 18 rolls.
  • Place rolls in greased pans 1/4 to 1/2 inches apart.
  • Cover with wax paper and a towel.
  • Let rise again until double in size.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • While baking prepare the icing.
  • When rolls come out the oven, put globs of icing on each one. Return to the oven for a minute or two to melt icing all over the rolls.

FILLING
1 stick melted butter
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon Pumpkin pie spice
1 cup golden raisins

  • Whisk together the sugar and cinnamon until well blended.

ICING
1 stick butter, softened
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon powdered vanilla
4-6 tablespoons milk

  • Mix all together until smooth.

When re-heating rolls, put a pad of butter on top of roll before microwaving.
These freeze really well.

As we get to the end of our countdown I have remembered a few more fun anecdotes.

  • Every year we received a box of See’s candy and I was ALWAYS on the search for the sprinkle coated ones a.k.a. Milk Bordeauxs YUMMY!
  • One year my dad got my mom diamond earrings.  He wrapped them in their original box and then with my brother’s and my help we proceeded to nest these in other boxes (wrapping each box as we went) culminating with a Dishwasher box full of bricks in the bottom – Boy was she surprised and it made for chaotic family fun on Christmas Eve.
  • Another year we built an elaborate scavenger hunt all through the house to lead my dad to his ultimate gift in the garage.

BLOGMAS 2016 ~ DAY 21

Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom ran a meme BLOGMAS 2014.  I did it in 2015 and this year I’m doing it all again to remind me that life is ALWAYS worth the effort.

DAY 1 – YOUR FAVORITE CHRISTMAS TRADITION
This is a really hard category for me.  I LOVE Christmas!  There is nothing about this season I don’t like short of maybe crowds of rude people and Black Friday.  Being a military family on a tight budget I’ve always started shopping early to work everything we want to do into our tight budget.

If I had to pick just one though, it would be putting up the tree as a family while eating leftover turkey (from Thanksgiving) sandwiches.  We usually put our tree up just after Thanksgiving and leave it until Kings Day, the Epiphany on January 6th.  For that reason we like to go cut our own tree so it’s fresh and last the entire time.  I use an apple cider/sugar mix that keeps the sap from forming on the cut area and keep the water cool and full.

When I was a kid we did a BIG family get together with a buffet of food and opening our family presents on Christmas Eve.  I just saw a few of my cousins and we were reminiscing about some of those holidays and LOL how horrible our wardrobes were back then. The first picture here is especially special because it is those grandparent’s house that we are rehabbing now.

Thankfully, I’m not in the bottom picture because I remember what I was wearing! But I love my brother’s plaid pants and Monica’s floral blouse. If you don’t hear from me for a few days I’m Sure it’s because one them found me LOL. 

Then on Christmas Day we did Christmas morning and “Santa” with just the immediate family and then we would do a BIG turkey with all the trimmings including my dad’s stuffing and giblet gravy with all the family as well as extended family, which included crazy Aunt Louise and Uncle Herb, but I’ll tell you more about them on the 10th. I replicated dad’s stuffing recipe a few years ago (Oatnut Sourdough Herb Dressing) and that is now a MUST for the Christmas meal whatever the meat is and I’ll tell you more about that on the 10th as well.

BLOGMAS 2016 ~ DAY 20 ~ DECORATIONS

With ALL that has been going on this past year I feel just plain lucky to be able to decorate.  So, when it came right down to it I decorated simply and am really happy about it.

Beautiful flowers that my mom sent. 
Our tree with some of our favorite ornaments.  We’ve always used colored lights and I really like how they blend with our ornaments.
I’ve been doing ELF ON A SHELF on instagram for some very special munchkins and this was one of my more favorite days when they made snow angels in powdered sugar.  Actually I silled powdered sugar and the rest fell into place.

BLOGMAS 2016 ~ DAY 19 ~ pictures from PREVIOUS years

I thought about this category a lot and decided that since we were still in transition in the HOUSE FROM HELL our pictures from last year were less than stellar. So I decided to share the pictures from 2014 with you.

These pictures from the  Festival of Lights we used to do each year is now over 20 years old and a great way to kick off the holiday season. It’s ALL Volunteer and NON-Profit.  It began as a fundraiser sponsored by the Rotary Club to help get the city out of debt and then took on a life of its own and now helps with scholarships and special projects. The festival runs every night from Thanksgiving to New Years.  You can drive your own car or take a horse drawn carriage ride through the displays.  They have also coordinated a local radio station to listen to as you view the displays.  The night we went through the fog was moving in early so a few of the pictures look a bit “smoky”.

As of 2014 they had the world’s tallest (41 feet, 16,000 pounds with  working jaw) nutcracker built by a local company, 500,00 lights, 90 animated displays, 3D displays, horse drawn carriage rides through the displays and a Holiday Village with Santa, hot cider with a bake sale and a synchronized light show in the courtyard.  The displays depict fairy tales, the military, patriotism, the local logging industry, local vineyards, local fishing and the traditional Christmas songs and scenes.  People come from all over to see it. Unfortunately for locals, it doesn’t change much, but is still fun every few years.

Three of my favorite munchkins from next door were coincidentally there the same night we were so had to snap a few pictures of the discussions with Santa.

Even the lights with errors turned out cute.  It was difficult to get great pictures or continuous pictures of the animated scenes since there were so many cars behind us.

This snowman is on a corner in our neighborhood hugging a light standard.