Monday, December 11, 2017

Sweet vintage card


Readers of my Christmas blog know that I love Christmas card scenes depicting mailboxes.  I've said many times that the reason I love these scenes so much may just be that they picture a more innocent, trusting time.  One could leave packages in and around the mailbox and they would be perfectly safe. 

Whatever the reason, I appreciate these simple country scenes so much.  And as I've been sorting through reams of old paper, I've found so many lovely cards, and probably a half-dozen depict mailbox scenes that are new to me.  This particular card is a tiny size, probably 3 by 5 inches, and I like the more muted colors.  The chickadee and bunny add a sweet touch.  Adding sentimental value to this card is the fact that it was sent by my favorite great-aunt, Bessie. 

If you love vintage, and I know many of you do, I'm sure this card will be of as much interest to you as it is to me!

Friday, December 08, 2017

December 8


Photo from Taste of Home
Well, a few Christmasy things have gotten done since my last progress post.  On Tuesday, I baked some Eggnog Log Cookies -- one of our favorite Christmas cookies.  They are one of the most time-consuming, so I made a double batch and sternly advised my husband not to eat too many of them. 

Wednesday I didn't manage to do a lot toward Christmas .. had a dental procedure late morning.  I did, however, bring my own CD (I listen to music during procedures involving the dentist's drill) and so John McDermott's soothing tenor kept me relaxed as I listened to The Holly and the Ivy.   (The Piano Guys would not have been as relaxing, but they sure would have drowned out the sound of the drill!)
Thursday I bought loads of ingredients for kitchen gifts as I did my regular grocery shopping.  I will definitely be making a couple of batches of chocolate-dipped orange slices, so got 4 bags of the candy and a large bag of dark chocolate chips.  Those who are interested may find that recipe here.  It's a real favorite!
Then Thursday afternoon I baked a batch of Secret Spice Cookies, dipping the tops in red or green sugar as I usually do with this type of cookie at Christmas.  They turned out really well and I wished I had made a double batch.  My hubby couldn't determine what the secret spice was, but he thought the cookies tasted great!
And then I tackled making a batch of Kitty’s Christmas Jam.  I had found the recipe last year and really wanted to try making some, but ran out of time.  I was fairly determined to make some jam this year and am glad that I made the effort.
The jam came out very well.  Now to decorate the jars for gift-giving, which should be lots of fun.

Today I've done very little toward Christmas preparations, other than to make a list for our little annual Christmas shopping excursion with three of our grandkids, planned for tomorrow.  Right now, though, I hope to wrap a few gifts.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

My simple Christmas curtains

A few days ago I mentioned my dining room curtains and a simple change I made for Christmas, and Vee asked to see my Christmas curtains.

As I mentioned in that post, years ago I made some curtains to cover the bottom half of the dining room windows that look onto the porch.  The view is not all that pretty , and these simple curtains from vintage fabric

worked very well to camouflage it and still let light in.  Later on, I made some fall curtains with fabric I had on hand. 

For years, I've been wanting to make curtains specifically for Christmas or winter.  I've seen some lovely ideas, but there just hasn't been time to make the curtains.   So I usually just use the geranium curtains shown at top.   They are green and red, after all.

But this year I tried something different.  I used wooden clothespins to clip red-and-white checked dishtowels to the tension rods.  
 The photo above shows both windows.  Since the dishtowels are not wide enough to cover the entire window, I opted to keep them to one side of each window.
This is a better photo as far as showing the color of the walls and so on.  The hooked rug picture, if anyone was wondering, was made by my great-aunt Marjorie with the traditional hand hooking method.

These "curtains" would look nicer if I had enough dishtowels to use two per window, but I only have enough for one each so am going with that for now.  It has occurred to me that I could probably find some Christmas dishtowels, maybe even in the dollar store,  to serve the same purpose, so I may eventually do that.  And I'd still love to make some Christmas curtains, one of these years.  For now, though, my simple and cost-free solution is working fine.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

December 6 Hodgepodge

 I'd say the general store above was filled with a hodgepodge of Christmasy things, wouldn't you agree?  This is a scan of a Christmas card our family sent one year when I was growing up.  I know, because the card was signed by me with the names of my parents and siblings.  My mother often had me sign and address the Christmas cards to help out, and that was a chore I enjoyed taking on.  This one, along with several others, apparently did not get sent.  My guess as to why?  I'm supposing that my perfectionist mother didn't think the cards I'd chosen were right for those particular recipients and re-did them, tucking the unsent ones away so I wouldn't know.  No matter -- I'm happy this card with its fun scene was there for me to find, as I'd forgotten all about it!

I'm not sure how this happened so fast, but it's Wednesday again -- not to mention that it's also December!   So it's time for the Hodgepodge with Joyce and friends at From This Side of the Pond.  Head on over to get the questions.  Then answer them on your own blog and go back over to Joyce's to link up!   Here are the [very challenging] questions for this week:

1. What title would you give this current chapter of your life?

What an interesting question!  Let's see.  Maybe "a tale of two houses" for I am spending time at two.  Maybe "never enough time."  Maybe "the endless season" as it seems I am never going to be finished with this task.

2. December 6 is National Microwave Oven Day. Who knew? Besides popcorn and coffee reheats, what's the most common thing you microwave? Could you get along without a microwave?

I microwave leftovers quite frequently.  I also use the microwave to soften butter or margarine for baking cookies, to heat a mug of water for tea, to melt chocolate or butter for various recipes, to make oatmeal, to cook frozen vegetables.  If I am making a baked potato just for myself, I'll bake it in the microwave.  Some types of candy, such as almond brittle or peanut brittle, are easily made in a microwave.  Although there was that one time ... when making almond brittle, a kitchen disaster did occur.

Could I get along without a microwave?  Absolutely, but it really does simplify my time in the kitchen and saves a lot of dishes.

3. If you could insert yourself into any Christmas carol and experience the lyrics in real life, which Christmas carol lyric would you choose and why?

Another fascinating question that really makes one stop and think.  Of course any of the biblical ones like "Joy to the World" or "O Little Town of Bethlehem" or "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks" would be neat to be part of, but you know, I really am happy to be living in modern times.  "Silver Bells" has always been one of my favorites.  How about this one: "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"?  I would like to take a look at the five and ten, glistening once again, and the tree in the Grand Hotel, and one in the park as well.  I suppose that is not strictly a Christmas carol, but it sure is a Christmas song.

4. Describe the most beautiful drive you've ever taken.

 Oh, that would really be difficult.  I would say almost any drive on Prince Edward Island.  Potato fields -- gorgeous green plants against red earth -- and fields of lupines, sloping down to the sea.  I have taken other scenic drives, up mountains and so on, but those invariably involve hairpin turns and switchbacks.  If I am truly to enjoy the scenery, it's better that the drive be straightforward and uncomplicated.
Partway up Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park
5. What's something on your Christmas list this year? (an actual list or figuratively speaking, either one)
 
On my actual list: Several winter getaways with my husband.
On my figurative list: The finished task of a cleaned-out house.  Also a new pastor for our church. 

6. Insert your own random thought here.

 I seem to be enjoying Christmas music more than ever this year.  It's making a great backdrop for cleaning, baking cookies, whatever I'm doing.  My sorting and clearing out at my dad's home is being made much more enjoyable by having Christmas music playing while I'm working.  I just purchased John McDermott's The Holly and the Ivy and am loving it.
Music filled the house when my girls were home from college on Christmas break, back in the day
And so ends another Hodgepodge!  Happy Wednesday, everyone!  And Happy December, too.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

A pretty outdoor decorating idea


Last year I spied this beautiful idea for outdoor decorations at the nursing home where my dad was living.
 They had one of these arrangements on either side of the pillars at the front entrance.
 I took the photos with my Kindle and they aren't all that great.  But you get the idea.  The elements to the arrangements are mostly natural.   Large bunches of fresh evergreen branches were placed in sap buckets.  So appropriate to New Hampshire!  Pine cones and winterberries were tucked in among the greenery.  I'm not sure what the silvery dried materials are.  Dusty miller perhaps?  Possibly even goldenrod.  I can't remember for sure but I think there may have been some white twigs in the arrangement.  Then a red bow was added and each bucket was placed atop a chunk of birch with the pretty birch bark still intact. 
Hope this lovely idea is an inspiration to someone!  I would love to make one of these to display outside at our own home.

Monday, December 04, 2017

December 4

 Just a little update on Christmasy preparations ... today I finally got the Christmas card banners in place over the dining room windows.  But there's more!

Years ago I made some curtains to cover the bottom half of the dining room windows that look onto the porch.  The view is not all that pretty and these simple curtains
worked very well to camouflage it and still let light in.  Later on, I made some fall curtains with fabric I had on hand.  For years, I've been wanting to make curtains specifically for Christmas or winter, but there just hasn't been time and I usually just use the geranium curtains above. 

But this year I tried something different.  I used wooden clothespins to clip red-and-white checked dishtowels to the tension rods.  It would look nicer if I had enough dishtowels to use two per window, but I only have enough for one each so am going with that for now.  It occurred to me that I could probably find some Christmas dishtowels, maybe even in the dollar store,  to serve the same purpose, so I may eventually do that.  For now, though, my simple and cost-free solution is working fine.  Maybe I can take a picture later, but not today.

Let's see -- last evening I wrapped about half of our gifts for the Nevada contingent and did the click and print at USPS.com, then scheduled a carrier pickup.  Light-years ahead of my usual speed in accomplishing this task. 

I hope to get the rest wrapped in the next few days and get them on their way as well.   While I'm at it, I'll also wrap the gifts I have for our local family members and stick them in large gift bags to await the Christmas tree.

There are just a few gifts left to purchase and even though I'm feeling very stretched in other ways, this part of my Christmas preparation seems in good order.

Between Saturday and today, I also prepared Christmas cards for a swap I'm taking part in and got those on their way.

Today I made some fudge and prepared care packages for a couple of college students to get them through the last days of the semester.  Just now did click and print and scheduled a carrier pickup for tomorrow.  I love being able to do this online ... it saves me so much time and trouble!

I'm also trying to take part in a Christmas photo challenge over at Instagram.  So far, so good!  I'm having fun with it.

That's all for now.  Hope everyone else is having a productive December!

Sunday, December 03, 2017

A Christmas poem ~ "Christmas Splendor"


Some of my recent finds include vintage Ideals magazines in a smaller size for sending to friends.    Envelopes like the one shown above were included with these.  So pretty!  The envelopes are ever so faintly dusted with glitter, although you can't really tell by looking at this scan.

The poem I'm sharing came from the 1956 Ideals "Christmas Greetings".  It's by Lida Shivers Leech.

Christmas Splendor
Lida Shivers Leech

The dawn breaks o'er a beauteous scene,
Quiet, dazzling, and serene;
A wealth of diamonds in the snow
Set hill and vale aglow.

A panorama unsurpassed,
Traced by the Master-hand;
And etched in jewels crystal clear
By nature's magic wand.

A bright-eyed snowbird pecks around
For crumbs or berries red;
With cheery chirp he greets his mate
On icy branch o'erhead.

Christmas splendor-- a spotless robe
On roof, on shrub and tree;
We stand amazed and gaze in awe
On this, God's mystery.

This actually reminds me quite a bit of the type of poems my husband's dad would write.  It does set a beautiful scene.  God is indeed the Master Artist!

Saturday, December 02, 2017

December 2


Oh, don't you love the vintage card above?  It's one that I found in my cleaning and sorting spree.  I love how it gives a window into a Christmas kitchen!

I really have no idea at all if I'll be able to post here daily, but I will give it a try.  Today I'll just share what I did yesterday for Christmas preparations:

* Began a December Scripture-writing plan
* Took down all the fall items in the dining room
* Took the fall trims off the grapevine wreath on the front door
* Replaced them with winterberries, at least for now
* Replaced "Autumn Blessings" with "December blessings" on the chalkboard
* Redid the table with a more Christmasy look
* Redid the hutch with a more Christmasy look
(Both of these are likely to change as Christmas gets closer.   Both are pretty simple right now.  The table just has a pretty Christmas dish towel (from my friend Arlene's Cracker Barrel giveaway) for a runner, with a Christmasy bowl of cookie cutters atop it.    The hutch will definitely be changed as more of my Christmas things are brought down from the attic.)

The boxes containing Christmas gifts are starting to arrive quickly now, so I will need to get busy wrapping and I do still have a few last gifts to attend to. 

One important thing I've done toward my Christmas cookie baking is to order a new hand mixer from a Black Friday sale at Kohl's.  My hand mixer barely works.  It doesn't owe me anything, as I have worked it nearly to death.  The new one should arrive any day and I am anxious to try it out!

Friday, December 01, 2017

December goals


How on earth did it get to be December?  The year has simply flown by, the time seeming to pass much more quickly than usual.  Be that as it may, the calendar tells me December is a reality.  So, time to set some goals!

Here are my goals for December:
* Work on Colossians Bible study in my quiet time †
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones.
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook
* Continue new study for Sunday School -- A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus
* Exercise or walk at least 20 times.
* Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night. 
* Limit sugar and red meat.
* Drink enough water each day.
* Drink kombucha each day.
* Keep up with cleaning and decluttering missions in homemaking zones of the week.
* Post in this blog every day in December if possible
* Post daily in my Christmas blog through December
* Continue working on several UFO craft projects
* Continue planning for family birthday gifts and work on crafting any handmade ones
* Declutter filing cabinets and bookshelves
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able
* Clean church and set up for potluck meal
* Sort out and declutter my dad's house; work on estate
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating
* Decorate for Christmas
* Finish purchasing Christmas gifts; wrap; mail distant ones
* Take three of our local grandchildren for our traditional Christmas outing
* Send out cards for a Christmas card swap I'm participating in
* Make and carry out plans for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
* Focus on Advent each day this month
* Continue upholding my husband as he continues on with our church's pastoral search

 † I'll resume my informal study of Come Before Winter, by Charles Swindoll, sometime in the new year, depending on how my study of Colossians goes.

DECEMBER'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Drink enough water/exercise/eat healthfully/drink kombucha

WORD for 2017: Stewardship

And here's how November went:
* Work on Colossians Bible study in my quiet time † -- Not done.  I ended up participating in the Gratitude Challenge from Revive our Hearts, and after just a few days I knew I would have to set Colossians aside.
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones -- done!
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook -- not done.  The
Gratitude Challenge kept me busy every day!
* Continue new study for Sunday School -- A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus-- done!
* Exercise or walk at least 20 times -- done!
* Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night -- not done consistently.
* Limit sugar and red meat -- did great with meat, not so much with sugar.
* Drink enough water each day -- not done.
* Drink kombucha each day -- not done
* Keep up with cleaning and decluttering missions in homemaking zones of the week -- not done, although I have tried.
* Post in this blog most weekdays if possible -- done!
* Post regularly in my Christmas blog -- not done
* Continue working on several UFO craft projects -- not done, though I've worked on them a bit
* Continue planning for family birthday gifts and work on crafting any handmade ones -- not done
* Declutter filing cabinets and bookshelves -- not done
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family -- done!
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able -- done!
* Clean church and set up for potluck meal -- done!
* Sort out and declutter my dad's house; work on estate -- not finished, but I've worked on it nearly every day.
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating -- done!
* Make and carry out plans for Thanksgiving -- done!
* Focus on gratitude each day this month -- done!
* Continue upholding my husband as he continues on with our church's pastoral search -- done!

 † I'll resume my informal study of Come Before Winter, by Charles Swindoll, probably in December or the new year, depending on how my study of Colossians goes.

NOVEMBER'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Drink enough water/exercise/eat healthfully/drink kombucha

WORD for 2017: Stewardship

Thursday, November 30, 2017

From the November archives, part 3


Okay, here is the last and relatively brief post of links from the November archives.

In the mood for some comfort food that's hearty and yet a bit unusual?  Try this delicious autumn supper  which would be good all winter long.  It's a flavorful chicken stew which I served with pumpkin biscuits.  Both recipes are included.

And then finally, this post: Preparing to prepare for Christmas describes some steps I took to get ready for Christmas preparations like crafting and baking in 2015.  Although your own details and preparations will likely be different, I think you'll find some inspiration in this post.

And so ends my browse through the November archives.  Tomorrow will be December, and I'm hoping to post daily in my Christmas blog -- and possibly do "December Daily" posts here as well.  We will see!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

End of November Hodgepodge


Nevada, October 2010
 Wednesday again, and time for the Hodgepodge with Joyce and friends at From This Side of the Pond.  Head on over to get the questions.  Then answer them on your own blog and go back over to Joyce's to link up!   Here are the questions for this week:

1.  What's something blogging has taught you about yourself?

Blogging has reminded me of how much I love to write.  It has taught me many things about disciplined use of time and fine-tuning my writing to phrase the information I want to share in the most effective way.  It has taught me that I can be organized and plan ahead to schedule posts.  It may also have showed me that I never seem to run out of things to say (just time to say it in).  Not sure if that first part is good or bad.

(Next 2 photos also from Nevada, October 2010)

2.  Leftovers...are you in the 'reheat and eat' camp or the 'put them in the fridge until they spoil and then toss them' camp? What's your favorite thing to have leftover? What can you not abide as a leftover?

We love leftovers at our house.  We love it when we have enough leftovers for an entire meal.  My least favorite thing to have as a leftover is salad with dressing already on it.  My most favorite thing ... hmmm.  Just about any soup is better reheated.  Thanksgiving leftovers may be my very favorite.  (And this year we don't have any!)

3. 'Me time'...your thoughts?

This is a hard one to answer, but I'm glad you brought it up.  I think it's healthy for anyone to have some time they can sort of call their own.  Otherwise we can burn out very easily.  On the other hand, I think we often tend to think we "need" more time than we really do, and some people are downright selfish with it.  I have learned that if I need time, the Lord will provide it.  In looking through the archives at this blog, I re-read this post: A moment to catch my breath and was blessed all over again as I was reminded what God had done for me in that busy season.

The most important "me time" that we can possibly take is a quiet time with Him every day.  It grounds us and settles us and prepares us for whatever the day may bring.

I also feel that I need some creative minutes every day, but I don't always get them as such.  I've learned that doing something creative doesn't have to mean dedicated time to work on a needlework project or a blog post.  I can find creativity in preparing a meal or figuring out a better way to do a task.
4. When people come to you for help, what do they usually want help with?

Hmmm.... usually a recipe!  My daughters have nicknamed my phone number "Mom's cooking hotline" and even friends call occasionally for recipes or cooking advice.  I once had a missionary friend email me from Panama to ask for a recipe of mine she'd misplaced!

5. If your childhood had a smell what would it be? Tell us why.

I'm going to say wood smoke.  We had a Franklin stove when I was really young, and then later a fireplace, where we often roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.

We also had a really nifty outdoor fireplace, which we kids absolutely loved, but it got destroyed the year we tried boiling maple sap on it.  After that, my dad built a sugarhouse for boiling sap, with all of the right equipment in a smaller size.  But the outdoor fireplace was never rebuilt.

My grandmother's summer cottage where we all loved to spend time was redolent of wood smoke from the fireplace there.  To this day the place has its own unique scent -- decades of wood smoke have permeated the pine paneling.
The cottage is behind the children.  See the white steps?
6. Insert your own random thought here.

The closeness of Christmas.  I cannot get over how quickly it is coming.   I'm never ready, but this year I'm far less ready than usual.  I have, however, purchased a number of gifts already, so that's something, at least.  (The plate below was a gift from my daughter, last year.  Love it!)
So another Hodgepodge post comes to a close.  Happy Wednesday, all!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

From the November archives, part 2


Taken in Nevada, October 2010
As promised, I'm back with a second post from the November archives.  Two recipes and a more thoughtful post concerning time. 

Fiesta Sweet Potato Soup is a big favorite at our house.  Black beans, spicy sausage, tomatoes with chilies -- it's a great combination of flavors.  It's a very warming soup just perfect for winter evenings.

Best Gluten Free Pizza Crust  may not be everyone's idea of the very best, but we like it a lot.  A good gluten free pizza crust isn't easy to find.  We often make a veggie pizza with pesto sauce and it's great with this crust.  It's an adaptation of a gluten free focaccia bread recipe.

Lastly,  this post is a good reminder for me in this busy season.  I hope it encourages you, too.  A moment to catch my breath is an account of how God gave me just that, in a very unlikely place.  For tomorrow's Hodgepodge, one of the questions Joyce has posed concerns "me time."  This post sort of fits with my answer to that.
One more post from the November archives on Thursday.  Then, can you believe it, we're headed into December!  Yikes.

Monday, November 27, 2017

From the November archives, part 1


 (The gorgeous photo at top is from my 2001 Autumn in the Air booklet, a freebie from Cracker Barrel.)

November has been a busy month and I hadn't found time until today to look around in the archives for posts to share with you all.  This is the first of three posts concerning links from the archives that you might enjoy.  The posts I chose seem to be mostly recipes, so enjoy!

Green and white dishes, a post from 2008, shows some of my favorite dishes to use for Thanksgiving table settings, but they would look nice during the Christmas season, too.  If you enjoy seeing old dishes, you will like this post.


This Soup and bread post, from 2010, is billed as fall comfort food, but it would be an enjoyable menu during December or any of the winter months.  The soup is an unusual creamy lentil soup and the bread is an herbed oatmeal pan bread.  Mouth-watering!
 Lastly, Pumpkin Snickerdoodles are an interesting and different variation on traditional snickerdoodles, and are very tasty.

More from the archives tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful Heart

Lovely image from Gooseberry Patch
This past spring, while cleaning out an old roll-top desk at my parents' home, I found a folded, yellowed page from the November 24, 1963 This Week magazine.  Some may remember when this magazine came as a supplement with the Sunday newspaper.

The entire page was taken up by a poem titled Thankful Heart, by William Fitzpatrick, a Pulitzer Prize winner for distinguished editorial writing.  He was evidently a poet, too.

Thankful Heart

We thank Thee, Lord,
This hallowed day
For these Thy gifts.
Thanks for the way

The falling leaves
Renew the earth --
Symbol and promise
of Man's rebirth.

Thanks for the fruits
Of field and plow
We planted then
And harvest now.

Thanks for the sea
And summer shade ...
Beauty of sky
And silent glade ...

Thy watchful eye,
As children played.
Thanks for Thy trials
That somehow made

Us more like men.
O Lord, for these
We thank Thee, then
On grateful knees.

By William Fitzpatrick.  Pulitzer Prize winner for distinguished editorial writing.

A beautiful, meaningful poem, I thought.  I see why my mother saved that page from This Week.

Wishing you all a blessed and meaningful Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving hodgepodge


This gorgeous graphic is from the amazingly talented and generous Abby at Little Birdie Blessings.
Wednesday again, so that means it's time for the Hodgepodge with Joyce and friends at From This Side of the Pond.  Take a break from your Thanksgiving preparations and head on over to get the questions.  Answer them on your own blog and then go back over to Joyce's to link up!   Here are the questions for this week:

 1. Tradition...how tightly do you cling to tradition when it comes to holiday gatherings and celebrations? For instance do you always do the cooking, never eat at home, always go to grandma's, never miss the parade, always watch football, never change the menu, always eat at 2 PM, etc.? Have you ever celebrated Christmas or Thanksgiving away from hearth, home, and family? How did that feel?

We do not cling tightly to tradition AT ALL. We have had Thanksgiving dinner here, for up to 30 people or so; sometimes with only three or four people.  We have gone elsewhere.  We don't cling to a specific time or menu.  The only thing we have never done is to eat out on Thanksgiving, but we are pretty much planning to do that this year.

We did spend Christmas away from home one year, traveling to a distant state with friends to visit at the wife's parents' home.  It was enjoyable in many ways but it felt downright odd.

2. Help...is it easy for you to ask for help or are you a do-it-yourselfer? How is that a good/bad thing?

I can -- and do -- ask for help if I need it. It's good to acknowledge that my way is not necessarily the only right way.  It's good to allow others to help, if it's a blessing for them to do so.  I think probably the best thing about being willing to ask for help is that it reminds us how insufficient we are in ourselves.  If we think we can do everything ourselves, we aren't as likely to acknowledge our need for God -- not only for salvation, but also in the needs of our everyday lives.

3. Abundance...what is there an abundance of in your kitchen?

Baking ingredients.  I've had to bake for so many funeral luncheons lately that I really stocked up.  And that's good because I can also begin my Christmas baking.
I'm going to add in a recipe here.  I baked a caramel pecan pie yesterday and mentioned it on Instagram last night.  I've already had one request for the recipe, so ... here you go.

CARAMEL PECAN PIE

36 caramels, unwrapped*
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup pecan halves
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust

Combine the caramels, butter and milk in a heavy saucepan; heat until the mixture is creamy and caramels are melted, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt with an electric mixer; gradually blend in the caramel mixture. Fold in the pecans and pour the mixture into the pie crust. Bake at 350ΒΊ for 45 to 50 minutes or until set. Cool pie until firm before cutting or serving. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

* This recipe (which is from Gooseberry Patch Christmas Book 7) predates the wonderful caramel baking nuggets, which are easier to use.    If you use those you will need about 1 1/2 cups.

4. Name...the smallest thing you're thankful for? the biggest?

Hmm ... certainly the biggest thing I'm thankful for is my salvation.   To have been delivered from the power of darkness, and having been translated into the kingdom of His dear Son (as Colossians 1:13 so eloquently puts it)  -- well, I can't think of anything bigger than that.  The smallest thing I'm thankful for -- I try to be thankful for everything.  There are no small blessings, in my book.  Big or small, they are all straight from God and all undeserved.

5. Key...What do you think is the key to living a more grateful life?

Recognizing that all we have comes from God.  I can't find the quote I'm looking for, but someone has written something like this: "To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us ... and He has given us everything."

 
6. State your own random thought here.

I simply cannot believe how quickly this year has passed.   It's not just that I am getting older; I have actually heard my youngest daughter say the same thing -- it feels as if we had only recently started into  January.  The year has flown by and I feel as if I have very little to show for it.
Photo from Photos Public Domain

Monday, November 20, 2017

Two pies for Thanksgiving


... one new, one tried and true!

Yesterday at church we had a harvest dinner theme to our potluck.  One lady cooked a turkey and  others brought fantastic side dishes, salads, and pies.  For my pie contributions, I used one old favorite recipe and one that was brand new to me.

The old favorite was this
CRUMB TOP APPLE PIE

1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Unbaked 9” pie shell
6 apples, peeled, cored, sliced
Lemon juice

Crumb topping:
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of salt
1/2 cup butter (may try using less; I think I've used as little as 1/3 cup before)

Begin by mixing together the brown sugar and spices in a small bowl. In the pie shell, alternate layers of apples with the spice mixture. Sprinkle each layer with lemon juice before adding another layer. When all apples and spices are in pie shell, make the topping by mixing the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and dash of salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until crumbs form. Top the pie with the crumb topping.

Bake the pie at 450ΒΊ for 15 minutes; then reduce the heat to 350ΒΊ and bake 30 minutes more. Serve warm if desired with cheddar cheese or ice cream on the side.  (For the potluck, I served it at room temperature and did not serve with either ice cream or cheese.  Every scrap of this pie was eaten!)

This excellent pie comes from Jane & Michael Stern’s wonderful cookbook, Square Meals. I have made this pie so many times that its page in my handwritten cookbook is freckled with apple juice and spices!

Now don't look at the several steps and decide this is too complicated.  It's actually very easy.  The hardest part is peeling, coring, and slicing the apples.  Once you get that solved (which I sometimes do by using one of those hand-cranked peeling/slicing/coring gadgets) it is literally as easy as pie.   My only quarrel with those gadgets is that they slice the apples a bit too thin, which can make for a mushy pie.
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The new recipe is Cape Cod Cranberry Pie, which I found in the Gooseberry Patch book Christmas Pantry.   This is made in a pie pan and slices fairly easily into wedges; still, I suppose it is not technically a pie for one makes no actual crust.  Still, it was delicious and I will definitely make this again for it was so easy.  I made this pie gluten-free simply by substituting the Bob's Red Mill 1-for-1 flour.    Here's the recipe:

CAPE COD CRANBERRY PIE

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 - 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour (regular, or gluten free)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Spray a 9-inch deep dish pie pan with non-stick baking spray.  Place cranberries in prepared pie pan.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar and the walnuts; stir to combine.  In a bowl, mix remaining 1 cup sugar, melted butter, flour, eggs, and vanilla with a whisk (I used a hand mixer).  Pour this batter over the cranberry mixture in the pie plate.  Bake at 325ΒΊ for 45 minutes or until brown.

Another time, I may cut down on the sugar in the batter part of the recipe.  I think 3/4 cup would be plenty.  The recipe also called for 1/4 cup of oil, but I didn't use it.  I felt that oil was unnecessary since there is quite a bit of butter in the recipe already.  It turned out very well and I will make this again, likely at Christmas time.

If  you needed some fresh inspiration for Thanksgiving pies, I hope you have found some here today!