BLOGMAS 2019 – DAY 5 – FAVORITE STORIES

I hope to run across new stories throughout the year, but didn’t see any new ones this year to add to my list.  But, this story originally came across my email several years ago and I’m always reminded that it is a beautiful way to celebrate Christmas Holiday spirit so I thought I’d share it again.

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.

There are so many other Christmas stories. What is your favorite? I ALSO love this Helen Steiner Rice poem and try very hard to adopt the Christmas spirit as an everyday way of life.

BOURBON EGGNOG SUGAR COOKIES

EGGNOG SUGAR COOKIES yields 2 dozen 1 ½ inch cookies
COOKIES
1 1⁄8 cups all purpose flour
¹⁄³ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon FRESHLY grated nutmeg
½ cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line baking sheet with silicone mat.
  • Using your mixer on low speed combine flour, powdered sugar, salt and nutmeg until well blended.
  • Increase speed to medium and add butter 1 piece at a time until dough starts to form into a ball.
  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a disc.
  • Wrap in plastic and chill 30 minutes minimum.
  • On a lightly floured surface roll out dough to a 1/8 inch thickness.
  • Cut out cookies with a 2 inch cutter and use a metal spatula to place cookies on silicone sheet.
  • Return any dough scraps to plastic wrap in the refrigerator .
  • Bake 15-18 minutes when edges begin to brown.
  • Completely cool in pans before icing.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining dough.

ICING
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons prepared eggnog
scant 1 tablespoon Bourbon
LEMON and/or ORANGE zest, for garnish

  • Whisk together the sugar, Bourbon and 1 tablespoon of the eggnog at a time, until you have a thin glaze consistency.
  • Spread glaze on cookies.
  • Garnish with zest.
  • Allow icing on cookies to set 30 minutes or until completely set.
  • Store in airtight container.

BLOGMAS 2019 – DAY 4 – FAVORITE 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 hand bell 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

BLOGMAS 2019 – DAY 3 – FAVORITE MOVIES

Today’s category is an easy one for me. It’s also one that really doesn’t change much from year to year.  I start taping Christmas movies on Lifetime, Hallmark and INSP as soon as they air so I can watch them 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, as is Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase but, they never fail to make me laugh!

HAPPY HOMEMAKER & MENU PLAN MONDAY week 49 of 2019

Be sure to join us and link up with
Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Happy Homemaker Monday

GOOD MORNING I hope everyone had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving full of your favorite 3 F’s – Family, Friends and food!   We had to cancel our Thanksgiving trek on Tuesday when we encountered the BIG west coast Bombogenesis storm not very long after leaving home for California.  We were going to be stopped going over the pass anyway, so we read the writing on the virtual wall and turned ourselves around and came home.  We are so glad we made that decision!  We did stop on the way home at a favorite Tavern that a friend was working at and had lunch with her.

I’m a BIG believer in things happening for a reason and I just know this was God’s way of preventing Thanksgiving from turning into WWIII among hubby and his sister over their parent’s Celebration of Life that she had scheduled to coincide with Thanksgiving Day without even consulting her other 4 siblings, but was convenient for her.  I still pray for a resolution that doesn’t divide the family any further than it already has. 

We spent Thanksgiving with friends, the same friends we had to cancel on when hubby’s sister first announced the Celebration of Life for Thanksgiving and had a great day full of some fun, our favorite people, great food and a little football too.

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW & THE WEATHER OUTSIDE & WHAT I’M WEARING It has been one COLD week up to now.  This week is a bit warmer and will be turning rainy by week’s end.  The historic west coast storm of Thanksgiving week changed our plans around BIG time so I am just taking everything one day at a time and not getting disappointed when things change.

ON THE BREAKFAST PLATE After an unconventional food weekend with the munchkins I’m feeling it and having a baby food and hot water morning.

AS I LOOK AROUND THE HOUSE, WEEKLY TO DO LIST, HOUSE & CRAFT PROJECTS, APPOINTMENTS

  • LAUNDRY, LIVING AREAS & KITCHEN… laundry is done and house is pretty tidy
  • YARD… hummingbird article that will post later
  • APPOINTMENTS & TO DO… finish Christmas card insides and get them mailed this week, a couple of medical appointments, gift wrapping, helping mom get ready for her trip to the desert
  • BLOG… BLOGMAS, recipes…, get caught up on my weekly link-ups that I fell behind on over the Thanksgiving week.
  • CRAFTS/PROJECTS… I need to finish the bowling pin snowmen, decorate for Christmas.  We are using our artificial tree this year, but did support our local (AND FAVORITE) tree farm on Saturday by finding a nice wreath for the front door.

ON MY MIND / THINGS THAT ARE MAKING ME HAPPY

BLOGAMAS began yesterday 😀 I hope you’ll have some fun and join in as you can.  Just remember BLOGMAS for me is a NO pressure event JUST for fun! 😀

WHAT IS ON THE DVR, I LIKE OR ON THE LIST TO WATCH/SOMETHING INTERESTING I WATCHED

We are still only about halfway through Dolly Parton’s Heart Strings on Netflix – a series of heart warming stories.  We did watch Klaus and Christmas Chronicles with the munchkins on Saturday.  We had watched Christmas Chronicles last year with them when it first aired – so I guess that’s our new tradition.  We also saw the Knight before Christmas which was a cute movie.

The DVR is finally getting cleaned out with ALL the fall finales taking place.  Some of the shows we’re watching for this year are (though a couple are quickly becoming non-essential and a few others are in their final seasons):

  • CRIME, POLICE & MEDICAL  – Chicago Series (Medical, FIRE and Police), Law & Order SVU, Blue Bloods, Hawaii 5-0, Magnum PI, FBI, NCIS, NCIS LA, NCIS NOLA, All Rise, Bluff City Law, The Resident, New Amsterdam, The Good Doctor, StumpTown, The Rookie, Bull, 911, Emergence, Seal Team
  • COMEDIES & FAMILY – Young Sheldon, The Good Place, The Unicorn, American Housewife, GOD Friended me
  • REALITY – Dancing with the Stars

I’M READING I’m about to finish Charming Hannah by Kristen Proby, book #1  from her BIG Sky series but am almost finished and loaded a few fun Christmas stories for the rest of the year.

FAVORITE PHOTO FROM THE CAMERA I had the munchkins for the day on Saturday so their folks could go to the Oregon “Civil War” (Ducks and Beavers – ducks won) game with friends.  We had a “PACKED” day of fun; baking, games, , movies (Klaus and Christmas Chronicles) horsing around… but one of my favorite moments was getting to take them to see the Oakland Christmas Tree.  I was super surprised to learn they had never seen it before!  The tree is set up every year literally in the middle of the intersection in a neighboring small town.

INSPIRATION & A FUNNY

HEALTH & BEAUTY TIPS

HOMEMAKING/COOKING TIP

MENU PLANS FOR THE WEEK
MONDAY – Chili Hominy Bake and Salad
TUESDAY – Tomato Barley Sausage Soup with Cornmeal Pan Rolls
WEDNESDAY – Chicken Positano & Salad
THURSDAY – C.O.R.N.
FRIDAY – Lemon Chicken Paillard & Salad
SATURDAY – Homestyle S.O.S. & Salad
SUNDAY – C.O.R.N.

SUCCESSFUL RECIPE LINKS FROM LAST WEEK

FEATURED PARTY LINKS FOR THIS WEEK

RECIPES TO LOOK FOR THIS NEXT WEEK

  • Bourbon EggNog Cookies
  • Monkey Muffins
  • Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
  • Tex Mex Chicken Stew
  • Ginger Orange Glazed Chicken

BLOGMAS 2019 – DAY 1 – SCHEDULE

The very first thing I’d like to stress is that BLOGMAS is supposed to be FUN and stress free!  By doing this “schedule” prompt list ahead of time it allows ALL of us to write posts as we have the time to do it.  I often sit and do many of these posts ahead of time while watching TV with hubby in the evenings.

Participating in BLOGMAS helps get me in and keeps me in the Christmas spirit.  I’m not even doing a linky this year.  We’ll just know to visit from the link left in a comment.  It’s a lot of fun to read about each other’s traditions and family recipes and pictures.

These days our holiday schedule is much more lax than in years past and revolve around the USPS final day to ship or mail schedule.  My shopping is done on weekdays in the middle of the day and well before the actual day.  This requires quite a bit of thought process to make my lists and not forget any items, but I’ve found over the years that I REALLY enjoy the holiday so much more when I stick to this type of schedule and avoid crowds all together. 

Being in a small town helps quite a bit to maintain this type schedule.  I even went out on BLACK Friday, but not until after 10AM purely by “accident and necessity” after having to cancel our Thanksgiving trip.  BUT, I was pleasantly surprised by how kind and orderly people were as well how much shopping I accomplished with the sales.  I also did my part on Saturday by shopping at my local gift shop run by the sweetest little old ladies for SHOP SMALL SHOP LOCAL SATURDAY. 😀

RASPBERRY or STRAWBERRY PRETZEL DESSERT

RASPBERRY or STRAWBERRY PRETZEL DESSERT
CRUST
2 cups crushed pretzels
3/4 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Combine the pretzels, butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.
  • Press into a 13×9 baking dish.
  • Bake 10 minutes.
  • Cool on wire rack.

FILLING
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla.
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar

  • Beat the heavy cream until you have soft peaks.
  • Add vanilla, cream cheese and sugar beating until smooth.
  • Spread over the pretzel crust.
  • Refrigerate 1 hour until chilled.

TOPPING
6 ounces strawberry Jell-O
2 cups boiling water
32 ounces frozen raspberries or sliced strawberries, thawed

  • Dissolve gelatin in the hot water in a large bowl.
  • Stir in fruit along with water syrup has accumulated during their thawing.
  • Chill until partially set.
  • Spoon over filling and gently spread even.
  • Refrigerate and chill 4-6 hours.
  • Cut into squares.

RULE OF THUMB for CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTS

THIS is the question we ask ourselves EVERY year, How many lights do we need for the tree?  This year we decided to investigate this weary question and buy ALL new LED lights.

  • Incandescent lights have been the household standard for years. They’re inexpensive and come in a variety of styles and colors.
  • LED (light-emitting diode) lights give off brilliant white light and feature bulb covers in various shapes and colors. LED string lights cost more than incandescent string lights, but they’re 85% more energy-efficient and can last up to 40 holiday seasons. Plus, they don’t produce heat like incandescent bulbs, so they remain cool to the touch.
  • White lights draw attention to the ornaments on your tree and provide a classic, elegant look to your tree.
  • Colored lights create a festive look and conjure memories of childhood. Try colored lights for a throwback look.

How many strands of lights do I need?  We found some great ones that offer the ability to switch between white, colored, solid and flashing lights.  We will see after the tree is up, but I have HIGH hopes in these new lights.

A good rule of thumb is to use 100 lights for every foot-and-a-half of tree. BUT, if you love lights, you may want to double or even triple that amount. Use the chart below for the recommended number of lights for fresh-cut trees.

Tree Height Number of Lights
6 to 7 Feet 400 to 700
7.5 to 8.5 Feet 700 to 1,000
9 to 10 Feet 1,000 to 1,300
12 Feet 1,500 to 2,000

SWEET & SOUR CUCUMBERS & ONIONS – 2 versions – AMERICAN & JAPANESE

SWEET & SOUR CUCUMBERS
3 medium cucumbers, peeled and sliced thin
1 small red onion, quartered and sliced
FRESH sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3-4 tablespoons avocado oil
1/2 cup COLD water

  • Whisk together water, vinegar, sugar and oil until well blended.
  • Season with FRESH ground sea salt and pepper.
  • Toss cucumbers and onions in a bowl.
  • Pour vinegar mixture over and gently toss.
  • Chill.

NOTE:  If I have them I often add thinly sliced radishes also.

The Japanese version is similar, but just enough different for a nice flavor change.
JAPANESE CUCUMBER SALAD
3 medium cucumbers, peeled and sliced thin
1 small onion, quartered and sliced
2 tablespoons sea salt
FRESH ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Bragg’s liquid aminos

  • Sprinkle cucumber slices with sea salt and let stand 30 minutes.
  • Wash salt off cucumber slices, gently squeezing the water out of the cucumbers.
  • Place cucumbers and onion pieces in a bowl.
  • Whisk together the vinegar, sugar and liquid aminos.
  • Pour over cucumbers and toss gently.
  • Chill.

CREAMY GARLIC & HERB BONELESS PORK CHOPS

I adapted the delicious boneless Pork Chops in a Creamy Garlic & Herb Wine Sauce from Olga at What’s In The Pan.  This a superb One pan dish is so easy to prepare and actually ready in less than 30 minutes! It is made with a dry white wine, the juice of a fresh lemon, FRESH minced garlic and FRESH thyme making these pork chops are packed with flavor and so juicy!

CREAMY GARLIC & HERB BONELESS PORK CHOPS
4 boneless pork chops
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup WONDRA flour
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  • Whisk together flour, garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning.
  • Generously season pork chops with salt and pepper.
  • Dredge pork chops thoroughly in flour mixture.
  • Reserve dredge for next stop.
  • Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • 
Add pork chops and sear them by cooking for 3-4 minutes per side, reducing heat to medium on second side.
  • Remove from heat and transfer to a plate.
  • Cover to keep warm.

CREAMY HERB & WINE SAUCE
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of the dredging mixture
½ cup dry white wine
Juice of 1 LARGE lemon
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
4 sprigs FRESH thyme, leaves only, minced
2 tablespoons FRESH chopped Italian Parsley

  • Return skillet to heat and melt 2 tablespoons butter.
  • Add minced garlic and cooking for 1-2 minutes on medium heat.
  • Whisk in flour and blend well.
  • Add in wine while constantly whisking for 1 minute.
  • Add chicken stock and heavy cream, whisking to blend well.
  • Add lemon juice, fresh thyme and Italian seasoning.
  • Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

TO SERVE

  • Reduce heat to low and return pork chops to pan.
  • Turn to coat well simmering JUST until heated through.
  • Serve with mashed potatoes, prepared pasta or rice pilaf.