Friday, December 14, 2018

December 14 -- Friday five


Time for Friday five again!  I'm just for the most part using photos from previous years in this post, as I haven't yet finished my Christmas decorating (or shopping, or wrapping, or card writing, or cookie baking).  I seem to have been spending my time on higher priority pursuits this season, and that's okay.  On with the Friday five:

1.  Getting to walk four out of five days this week.  I don't take that lightly because it's by no means a given, this time of year.  Even though some of the days have been really cold -- yesterday was 10º -- we've had dry roads and that is such a blessing.  We don't even need boots!

2.  Being able to attend our granddaughters' winter concert on Monday evening.  (One is in the chorus and the other in the band.)  I was planning to go, but it didn't look likely for Mr. T to be able to get there.  It was neat to see God's hand orchestrating events so that he got home from other responsibilities much earlier than expected and was able to get to the concert and see all of it.  The kids did an amazing job.  Their public high school has a fantastic music department (as does the local elementary school).

3.  Finishing my last "official" handmade gift (there are still a few more small projects I'd like to do) and getting most of my Nevada gifts sent off.  Just one more box to go, I think.

4.  Seeing a Pileated Woodpecker on a roadside tree during our walk on Wednesday.  What a gift!  They tend to stay deeper in the forest.  This is the closest I have ever been to one.  Of course, I didn't have a camera, but the scene looked just about like the one below.  You can't really tell from the photo, but a pileated woodpecker is just about the size of a crow.  They are large birds.
Photo from All About Birds
5. A busy but profitable afternoon yesterday as I combined tree decorating, cookie baking, and several household tasks.  Today promises to be another busy day, so I am trusting God for strength and wisdom for it as well.

And that is my Friday five for this week!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

December 13 -- Sacher Torte Cookies



Here is another of our favorite Christmas cookies. This recipe also has appeared on my blogs numerous times, but for those who are new I really must share it again.  I've made these cookies each Christmas for well over 30 years and it would just not seem like Christmas without them.  One of my daughters likes these so much that I give her some for Christmas each year on a special new holiday plate or in a special holiday tin.

SACHER TORTE COOKIES

1 cup butter, softened
1 (4 1/2 oz.) pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup apricot (or raspberry) jam
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3 tablespoons melted butter

Heat oven to 325°. 


In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and pudding mix; cream together until fluffy. Beat in egg and extract. 

Gradually add flour, beating at low speed with mixer until dough forms. Shape dough into 1” balls. Dip balls in sugar. Place 2” apart on ungreased cookie sheets. With your thumb, make an imprint in center of each ball. 

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until cookies are firm; remove from sheets immediately to wire racks to cool. When cookies are cool, fill each indentation with about 1/2 teaspoon jam. In a small saucepan, or in microwave, blend chips and butter over low heat until chocolate melts, stirring constantly. Drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon chocolate over each cookie.

Yield: About 4 dozen cookies.


(Some people prefer not to use instant pudding mix.  I have found that the Land'O'Lakes recipe for chocolate butter cookies works perfectly for the cookie part of this, with no instant pudding mix needed.  You can find the recipe here: Chocolate Butter Cookies.  I've used this a number of times when I was out of pudding mix, and think I almost like it better!)
 

These cookies look pretty and fancy but are very easy to make. I believe I found the recipe in a Yankee magazine article about the Wellesley Cookie Exchange.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

December 12 -- the Wednesday Medley

 
 Somehow it's Wednesday again, and time for the Wednesday Medley hosted by Terri at Your Friend from Florida!   Terri asks the questions and bloggers come up with their own answers.

 Wouldn't you like to join in also?  Just head over to Terri's blog, get the questions, then copy, paste, and answer them on your own blog.  Then you can go back to Terri's and link up!  Here we go with the questions:

1.  National Ding-a-Ling Day is observed across the United States each year on December 12.  Ding-a-Lings on this day call the people they haven’t heard from in a while.  It may be an old classmate, co-worker or neighbor from years ago.  Or perhaps a call will go out to the child who used to mow the grass during the summer.  How about that couple who carpooled for soccer. There are all sorts of people in our lives who manage to slip out of our lives who would love to hear the ding-a-ling of a call from you or me.  So tell us who you want to call today!
 
Maybe I'll call my friend Paula.   She's a dear friend who moved to a different part of our state last year.  There have been a few notes and e-cards, but I would really like to chat with her and catch up on what's happening in her life.

2.  Each year on the 12th day of December, people across the United States recognize National Poinsettia Day.  I am including this "National Day" too because my neighbor's poinsettia from last year is blooming beside their house!!  Have you ever tried to plant a poinsettia outside?
 
No, I never have.  I have enough trouble keeping poinsettias alive inside.
 
Vintage card from my collection
3.  Do you believe in Bigfoot?  What size shoe do you wear and do you have trouble shoe shopping?

Not sure if I believe in Bigfoot or not.  I wear an 8 1/2 shoe (9 in sneakers) and no, I don't have trouble shoe shopping.  I just find a style I like and keep buying it in different colors.
 
4.  What is one thing you refuse to share?
 
Probably nothing.   I was going to say "my toothbrush", but my hubby has used it by mistake a few times. 

5.  Are you finding that this Christmas is stressful? More or less than last year?  
 
I don't think it is really stressful (not yet, anyway) but  it does seem busier and more rushed than last year.  Although my hubby has baked one batch of Christmas cookies, I've yet to bake a single cookie.  (The photo below is from last year.)
6.  Tell us something random about your week so far!
 
So thankful to have finished all of my handmade gifts! There are a few more things I would like to make, but the important ones are done ... and some are even on their way to Nevada.  Gotta love that USPS carrier pickup!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

December 11 -- How to make a simple ribbon board


  Today's special feature is a simple ribbon board to display vintage Christmas cards  (like the one above and at the end of the post) and other paper treasures.  I've shared this before, but I know that newer readers may not have seen this easy idea.   This isn't a real tutorial, but just a simple explanation of how I put this together.  If any point needs clarification, just ask.

As I've mentioned, I have a nice collection of vintage and antique Christmas cards, all given to me over the years -- oddly enough, by people who knew I used old Christmas cards in art projects with children in school and Sunday School. Many of these cards probably have no real value -- some of them have the backs removed, and many have had the signatures cut out. But they are valuable to me because they are so beautiful. For years I wanted to display them, but couldn't think how -- I didn't want to damage them further with tape or tacks or staples. I inherited a nice glass-topped desk, and displayed some of the cards under the glass. But I still wished I could display more of them -- because, to me, no matter how lovely a collection may be, if its beauty can't be shared with others, it's really not worth having. I know people who have treasures like this squirreled away in shoeboxes, and it's absolutely ridiculous because no one -- including the owner of the collection -- can enjoy them there.

So I came up with the idea of using a large ribbon board to display my vintage card collection. I made a very, very simple one, and it has worked well for quite a few holiday seasons now. I took a full sheet of foam core board and covered it with fabric. (You could use a holiday fabric, but I felt that a solid color would be the best background for the colorful variety of my cards, so I chose a plain dark green fabric.)  Very simply, I cut the fabric a couple of inches larger than the board all around, placed the board face down on the fabric, neatly wrapped the excess fabric to the back of the board, and hot-glued it in place.  To hang the board, I made a loop of festive red/green holiday cord, and hot-glued that to the back as well.
Next, I took lengths of red satin ribbon and tacked them diagonally across the board one way and then the other, gluing the ends of the ribbon to the back of the board. You should be able to see quite easily from the photo above what I did here.  At the places on the front where the ribbons intersected, I used shiny brass tacks to hold the ribbons in place. All those ribbons made nice secure spaces in which to tuck my cards. 
I hung the board in my front entryway and it holds a great many of the cards in my collection -- the vintage cards are much smaller than the cards we send today. This card-filled ribbon board makes me happy every time I walk by it!

In fact, the idea worked so well for me that I made a second ribbon board in neutral colors -- using unbleached muslin for the fabric and ivory ribbon -- to hold the paper treasures I've collected for other seasons as well.
Easter ribbon board
ribbon board for fall
Winter ribbon board
  I know that ribbon boards are not a new idea, but I haven't seen any just like mine. I hope someone else will try this idea for a special collection of treasured paper items.  It would even work beautifully to display this year's Christmas cards as they arrive!

Monday, December 10, 2018

December 10 -- Tips for mailing Christmas packages

(Astute readers will recognize this as a repost from my Christmas blog last year.  I share it again this year without apology, hoping it will be truly helpful to someone.)

  I'm not by any means an expert on this, but I have learned a few things over a dozen years of mailing packages to loved ones in a distant time zone.  When I mentioned doing click and print labels and scheduling carrier pickups of priority mail packages here on my blog last year,  one of my readers told me she had learned something new.  She had been standing in long lines!  That made me aware that there are probably other readers who might benefit from my package-mailing tips.

1.  One of the biggest, and the postal service always tells you this, is mail early.  I will never forget the year we spent over $60 to mail a package to Nevada because a) the box was huge; and b) the hour was late.  And yes, I may be posting this a little late for you to mail really early, but do it as soon as you can!

2.  Flat rate priority mail boxes are the very best deal for mailing to distant states because they will ship for one flat rate regardless of how much they weigh.   The boxes come in small, medium (two different shapes of box), and large.  The rates, of course, vary with the size of the box.  I generally find that I can fit quite a bit into one of the medium boxes of either shape.

Photo from USPS.com
3.  Of course, if you are mailing local and your items are relatively light, flat rate will not be a good deal for you.  You will want to have your packages weighed so you don't pay more postage than necessary.  When packing gifts, do pay attention to the size of the box.  A huge box is going to cost more to send than two smaller boxes (which might hold the same amount), as a general rule.

4.  Click'n'Ship means you can pay for and print postage right online.  This is very easy indeed if you are using the flat rate boxes.  Below you see a printed-out label affixed to a box.
Photo from USPS.com
5.  If you have printed your label and affixed it to your box, you can schedule a carrier pickup.  This is great and I have used this service countless times.  If you schedule the pickup to take place during your regular mail delivery, there is no charge for this service.  There are a number of options as to where you will leave the package for pickup -- at or in the mailbox, at the front door, on the porch, and so on. You can schedule a pickup the night before for the next day.  No muss, no fuss -- and most importantly, no standing in line!

6.  If your gifts for your faraway loved ones tend to include books, you can send those via media mail  for a pittance.  You will have to go to a post office for this option, but it is really helpful, as books are heavy.  You will definitely want to mail early if you go this route.  It's been my experience that media mail gets there almost as quickly as parcel post, but it doesn't always work out that way, so plan ahead if you choose to do this.

7.  Finally, if you find that you do need to do your mailing of packages at a post office, consider using a different post office to do so.  My local post office is downtown, less than 5 minutes away, but there are parking issues and nearly always a lengthy line at this time of year.  Rather than waste time and energy, I use the post office in the next town.  It's only 10 minutes away, parking is ample and easy, and I have never waited in a line there regardless of the time of year.

Just a few simple tips.  I am sure there is much more that could be said on this subject, but I trust that these hints are helpful to someone!

Sunday, December 09, 2018

December 9 -- Whipped Shortbread cookies

 
Photo from Taste of Home

 Although this recipe appears a number of times on both of my blogs, I'm sharing it again for those readers who may have missed it.  This is a cookie not to be missed, believe me!   Whipped Shortbread has been one of our very favorite Christmas cookies for years and years. The cookies require very few ingredients and are super easy to make.  I also like that they take 20-22 minutes to bake, as something meaningful may be accomplished in that amount of time, while they're in the oven.

WHIPPED SHORTBREAD

3 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted if very lumpy
4 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups cornstarch
Colored candy sprinkles and/or halved candied cherries and/or red and green colored sugar

Using a heavy-duty mixer, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add dry ingredients, beating constantly until well blended. 


Roll dough into 1-inch balls (dust hands with additional cornstarch if necessary); dip balls in either colored candy sprinkles or colored sugar. Place balls, decorated side up, on ungreased cookie sheets. Press each ball lightly with a fork. 

(If you wish to decorate cookies with cherries, do this: Do not dip balls in colored sprinkles or sugar. Instead, place plain balls on cookie sheet and press lightly with fork. Then top each cookie with a cherry half.) 

You may wish to do an assortment and trim some cookies with candy sprinkles, some with colored sugar, and some with cherries. Bake cookies at 300º for 20 to 22 minutes, or until cookies are set but not browned.

Yield: 16 dozen cookies

This is a very big recipe, but it is very easily divided in half (or even in thirds) if you wish to make a smaller batch. It is so easy, but produces many beautiful cookies quite quickly.  The photo below shows them as I most often bake them, with red and green sugar.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

December 8 -- Velvet ribbon window garlands



Here's an easy idea to trim that hard-to-decorate area -- make these ribbon garlands to drape across your window tops.

Years ago, I wanted to make something special to help decorate our living room for Christmas. The problem was that the colors in that room -- gold, green, rust, etc. didn't look all that great with what I could find for trims.

However, I had been given some spools of stiff velvety craft ribbon about 3/4-inch wide. Among the usual reds and Christmas greens there were also some spools of gold and moss green ribbon. I cut pieces of ribbon in those two colors, perhaps 4 inches long,  then formed one into a loop and stapled the ends together. Then I slipped the next piece of ribbon through the loop and stapled its ends... and so on, and so on, exactly as one would do to make a paper chain. I alternated the gold and moss green colors in the chains, and made each chain long enough to drape across the top of a window, with part of the chain hanging down straight at each end. I simply pinned them in place with straight pins. They really dressed up the room while not clashing with its colors.

Of course you can use any type of craft ribbon you like. I would not recommend using ribbon any wider than one inch, however, and I wouldn't use any sort of ribbon that frays easily. But use your imagination when it comes to colors and ribbons. I can picture a garland of red plaid or green plaid ribbon looking very nice indeed, for example.



Or certainly you could use gift wrap or any sort of paper, cut into 3/4-inch by 4-inch strips, to make these chains.

These garlands may be used anywhere you'd like, of course -- mantels, hutches, corner cupboards -- even on the Christmas tree.

Have fun with this idea!

Friday, December 07, 2018

December 7 -- Friday five


How did it get to be Friday again?  This week has passed so quickly!  Although I did get a slightly different perspective on this yesterday, when one of my granddaughters (a high school sophomore) commented that the week seemed so long.  It has been so long -- between snow days and holidays -- since they had an actual five-day week, that it seemed really out of the ordinary! 

On with my Friday five!

1.  The chance to go out for breakfast, Christmas shopping and ice cream with three of our grands.  These kids are such a delight to be with!  Their parents are doing an amazing job.

2.  The opportunity to informally disciple a couple of new-ish believers while regularly sharing a meal together.  Such a blessing.
Gorgeous, meaningful graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
3.  The chance to get out and walk three days this week.  Monday was warm and sunny; yesterday and Wednesday were a bit breezier and colder but we still got in an hour or so of walking.
4.  Being able to go out for breakfast with my husband on Tuesday when he had an unexpected day off from work.  So relaxing.  I may have mentioned once or twice that I pray daily for times of relaxation for us.  His job is high stress and he has heavy responsibilities at church.  I've got a pretty full plate myself, so when God provides a few moments or hours of relaxation it just helps so much!
5.  Strength and wisdom for a very full day yesterday.  If I had looked at December 6 on the calendar last week, it would have been an empty square.  An unexpected dentist appointment then was factored in, and then a hair appointment was rescheduled to that day.  A walk and a trip to Walmart also figured in there, not to mention scanning and listing items for my Etsy shop, preparing an Etsy order, making a menu plan for the week, and more.  But God gave strength and it was a good day.

That's this week's Friday five!

Thursday, December 06, 2018

December 6 -- a small but thoughtful Christmas care package

 
Do you have faraway friends you'd like to remember with a little something at Christmas time? The first year that I did this, the friends I sent this little package to were so surprised and pleased. I wanted to send them just a taste of Christmas in our home, and they said they really felt a part of our Christmas.  Here is what I did:

I lined a small (recycled) box with red and green tissue paper, then filled the box with a few things that would give them a taste of our Christmas. Things like:

* A small foil package of holiday fudge

* A small tin of some favorite Christmas cookies

* A homemade packet of spices for hot cider

* Some handmade sparkly heart ornaments -- the ones with bells sewed on, so our friends would hear a festive jingle as they opened the package

* Shreds of red & green paper (the type sold as filler for gift baskets)

* A few little hemlock cones from our woods  (I bake these first for about a half hour at 325º to kill any insects)

* A sprinkle of metallic Christmas confetti

You could include many different things, keeping the emphasis on "small" and "lightweight". Be imaginative and send your friends something that will really help them to feel they are sharing in your Christmas joy. (I buy things like the confetti and the red & green paper shreds when they are on sale at season's end and just store them until the next Christmas.)

A package like this doesn't cost much at all to send, but it is such a nice surprise for your friends to receive!

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

December 5 -- the Wednesday Medley


Wednesday again, and time for the Wednesday Medley hosted by Terri at Your Friend from Florida!   Terri asks the questions and bloggers come up with their own answers.

 Wouldn't you like to join in also?  Just head over to Terri's blog, get the questions, then copy, paste, and answer them on your own blog.  Then you can go back to Terri's and link up!

I don't seem to have appropriate photos for this post, so I will use mostly images from my vintage Christmas card collection..Here are this week's questions:

 1.     On December 5, 1901, Walt Disney was born.  Have you been to Disneyland or Disney World?  Can you share a favorite Disney memory?
 I have never been to either Disneyland or Disney World.  Although it would be fun, I'm sure, it is not a bucket list activity for me.  For a Disney memory -- I loved the Mickey Mouse Club on TV in the 1950s and seldom missed watching it.
2.     The first roller coaster attraction at Walt Disney World was Space Mountain.  Do you/did you like roller coasters?
 I have never really loved roller coasters,  though I must say I did ride one or more of the old wooden roller coasters in my teenage years and lived to tell about it.
3.     The very first fairy tale that Walt Disney made a cartoon about was Little Red Riding Hood.  Did you enjoy fairy tales when you were a youngster or did they scare you?  Did you have a favorite?
 Hmmm ...  you know, I really can't remember -- but, knowing myself, I imagine they scared me.  Some of them made me sad.  I remember sobbing and sobbing over The Little Match Girl.
4.     In Lady & the Tramp, Tramp’s real name was Butch!  Do you have nicknames for your fur-babies and/or for your children?
 My kids tended to give each other nicknames.  My daughters called their brother Goofy.  He called my one daughter Chefette and my youngest daughter called her Pooky.  The older daughter called her little sister Big Moose for awhile.  (No idea why.)  Of them all, Pooky is the name that has stuck.
 We all, parents and kids alike, called my youngest daughter JoJo -- and that has also stuck, as her nieces and nephews all call her Auntie JoJo.
5.     I can’t let this day go by without respecting George H.W. Bush, as he lays in state in the Rotunda of our Capital today.  He was our 41st President and only the second father to have a son follow him as President of the United States.  President Bush loved his colorful socks.  I bought Joe a pair of George H.W. Bush socks for Christmas one year.  I know Myra has a pair… any other bloggers checking in today who have a pair of the Presidential socks in a drawer at home?  How do you feel about colorful socks?
 Oh, I like colorful socks! I enjoy wearing them and I enjoy seeing others wear them.  (I don't own any presidential socks, however.)  Over the past few years when mismatched socks have been quite acceptable, I've enjoyed seeing the combinations my teenage granddaughters have come up with.



6.     Please tell us something random about your week!
 We've gone out to breakfast twice this week!  Quite unusual!  Once with several of the grandkids to McDonalds' on Saturday, and then this morning when my hubby had the day off unexpectedly.  We went to a favorite cafe, and it was uncrowded and very relaxing.
Notice the little lighted Christmas tree partway down the falls!
And that wraps up the Medley for Wednesday, December 5!

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

December 4 -- Sparkly Heart Ornaments


For today's feature, I thought I would share how to make some very pretty ornaments from simple supplies most crafters might have on hand. Even children who can safely handle a needle and thread could make these!  The photo really doesn't do them justice, but I'm sure you can get the idea.
I have made many of these for gifts and for decorating my own home. I often like to use them on my front-door wreath, but they are also nice for hanging on the tree or anywhere else you like. Some folks I have given them to like to hang these sparkly hearts from the kitchen cupboard doorknobs, to spiff up the kitchen with a holiday air.   (In fact, I thought that was such a good idea that I have sometimes done the same.)
 These pretty, jingly hearts would make nice package tie-ons, too. Years ago, I saw some similar ornaments for sale in a catalog and figured out an easy way to make them. Here's how:
SPARKLY HEART ORNAMENTS

You will need:

Red felt
Polyester fiberfill
Needle and red sewing thread
Gold star sequins
Gold glass seed beads
Red rocaille beads
Small shiny brass jingle bells, optional

For each ornament you wish to make, cut 2 heart shapes -- I trace around a a heart cookie cutter to make them uniform -- out of red felt. Add beads to one heart from each pair as follows: Thread a needle with red thread, then bring the needle up through the back side of the heart to the right side. Thread on a gold star sequin, then either a gold seed bead or a red rocaille bead. Insert the needle back into the star sequin and through to the back side again, so that the thread holds the bead tightly in place. Repeat this process to add as many sequins/beads as desired. (I used about 7 beads/stars on most of my ornaments.)

Now, using small neat stitches, sew the 2 heart shapes together about 1/4 inch from the edges, leaving an opening for stuffing the ornament. Stuff the heart ornament tightly with fiberfill (it won't take very much) and sew up the opening. If desired, sew a jingle bell to the bottom point of each heart. Now use the needle to pull a length of thread through the center top of each heart; knot to form a hanger.

The sparkly beads and sequins on these ornaments catch the light beautifully, and if you use the jingle bells, they add the sound of Christmas as well. Another really nice thing about these ornaments is that you can leave them up right through Valentine's Day!

Monday, December 03, 2018

December 3 -- Pepparkakor Cookies


Pepparkakor are Swedish spice cookies. I will never forget the first time I tasted them.  I was working at an inn and the manager's wife offered me one of her freshly baked Christmas cookies, apparently a tradition with their family.  So delicious!  I didn't think about Pepparkakor again for  years after that, until I came upon the recipe in a Country Woman magazine.  Then I had to try it!

These crisp spicy cookies will add such a Christmasy aroma to your house! Don't be scared off by the fact that you have to roll and cut them. This is a very easy dough to work with. Here's the recipe:

 
PEPPARKAKOR
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar

1 Tblsp. dark molasses
1 egg 3 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tblsp. cinnamon
1 Tblsp. ginger
1 Tblsp. cloves
Juice and grated rind of 1 orange  
 
Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy; add molasses and egg. Mix until blended. Sift flour, soda and spices into creamed mixture. Add orange juice and rind; mix until well blended. Roll dough on lightly floured surface to 1/8” thickness. Cut into heart or reindeer shapes.  Transfer to cookie sheets.

Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes,
until brown. Cool on rack and store in a covered tin. Makes at least 3 to 4 dozen cookies.
 
A dreary day in early December is actually the perfect time to bake these cookies, so why not mix up a batch right now?  The lady who submitted this recipe to the magazine said that these were the first cookies she baked each year,  to make her house really smell like Christmas. It works! 
 
And of course, you need not limit yourself to heart and reindeer shapes; that’s just what I usually do. Sometimes I cut some pine trees and moose as well. These are yummy whatever shape you choose to make them!

Sunday, December 02, 2018

December 2 -- Have you considered an Advent or December Bible study?


It's not too late at all to do so!

One of the easiest ways to do this is to participate in Abby's 25 Days of God-Given Gifts at Little Birdie Blessings.  Abby has beautiful free graphics -- like the one above -- for each day, as well as verses and illustrations for each God-given gift.  These readings are not lengthy but they are most meaningful, so you might wish to go over and look at this series each day, maybe writing out the verses and even journaling them using the SOAP method of meditating on Scripture.  Abby also provides links to follow the series on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram.


Another relatively easy way to do an Advent study  is by doing a Scripture writing challenge.  You can find  a number of Scripture writing and journaling plans at Rachel Wojo, among other places.  For this month, I am doing the plan titled The Light, from Rachel Wojo.  It has already been a blessing!

 
The Road to Christmas, from Love God Greatly is an Advent study I've done in the past and highly recommend.  God With Us is another Advent study I've done from Love God Greatly.  It seems as if the journal and reading plan may be downloaded for free on their site, but if you want to purchase the book it may be found on Amazon.

Another Advent study I have done which I greatly enjoyed in the past was this free download from Good Morning Girls: Keeping Our Hearts Focused on Jesus.

Even though you might be a day or two late in starting these Bible studies, I definitely suggest starting one if you can make the time.  You will gain so much from an Advent study.  It is never too late to begin a good Bible study that may impact your life for eternity!

For one final bit of inspiration, you might visit my Christmas devotionals Pinterest board.  Lots of good reads there, and also a Christmas-themed Scripture writing plan that, again, it wouldn't be too late to start.


I hope you'll decide to try a Bible study or reading plan for December!

Saturday, December 01, 2018

December 1 -- Goals for December


For the past few years, I have tried to make a point of posting every day in December, but have seldom succeeded.  This year I thought that I wouldn't even try, but then I decided there was a way in which I might make it happen.  I typically take part in the Wednesday Medley (though not always) and I try to write a "Friday five" post.  I thought I could continue doing those, plus plug in posts from a past December (in this case 2011) to fill in the rest of the month.  I don't feel badly about recycling posts from the archives, since I have many newer readers who missed those posts.  So that's my plan.

Now -- since I always write a "goals for the month" post on or around the first, here goes with goals for December:

* Do a December Scripture writing challenge
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones.
* Continue study for Sunday School -- A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus
* Get to bed by 9 pm each night  
* Limit red meat.
* Drink enough water each day.
* Walk and/or exercise each day.
* Keep up with Flylady's homemaking zones of the week.
* Do something creative each day
* Bake dozens of Christmas cookies
* Post in this blog daily if possible
* Post in my Christmas blog daily
* Send Christmas cards
* Purchase and wrap Christmas gifts
* Mail gifts to faraway family
* Take 3 of our grandkids on a traditional shopping trip
* Attend ladies' Christmas fellowship at church
* Take part in church gift exchange and community Christmas caroling
* Attend a Christmas party for my hubby's work
* Continue planning for family birthday gifts and crafting any handmade ones
* Continue stocking my Etsy shop and continue selling vintage items
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able
* Make Christmas plans
 * Celebrate Christmas
* Continue to encourage and support my hubby as he works through a pastoral search for our church
* Clean church and set up for fellowship time
* Sort out and declutter my dad's house; work on estate
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating

DECEMBER'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Drink enough water/exercise/eat healthfully/get enough sleep
WORD FOR 2018: Settled

And here is how November went:

* Finish up my Bible study of Colossians -- done!
* Do a November Scripture writing challenge -- done!
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones -- not done, although I am working on a passage and did review some formerly memorized verses
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook -- not done,  as I have done other Bible study projects instead
* Continue study for Sunday School -- A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus -- done!
* Get to bed by 9 pm each night  -- not done consistently
* Limit sugar and red meat -- not done consistently
* Drink enough water each day -- not done consistently
* Walk and/or exercise each day -- doing much better with this so I'm saying -- done!
* Keep up with Flylady's homemaking zones of the week -- not done, but I'm continuing to try
* Do something creative each day -- done!
* Post in this blog at least three times weekly if possible -- done!
* Continue working on several UFO craft projects -- worked a bit on one of these
* Continue planning for family birthday gifts and crafting any handmade ones -- done!
* Make six handmade Christmas gifts -- done!
* Continue stocking my Etsy shop and continue selling vintage items -- done!
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family -- done!
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able -- not as much as I'd  have liked
* Make Thanksgiving plans -- done!
 * Celebrate Thanksgiving -- done!
* Continue to encourage and support my hubby as he works through a pastoral search for our church -- done!
* Clean church and set up for fellowship time -- done!
* Sort out and declutter my dad's house; work on estate -- ongoing
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating-- done!

NOVEMBER'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Drink enough water/exercise/eat healthfully/get enough sleep
WORD FOR 2018: Settled

Friday, November 30, 2018

Friday five for November 30


Friday is fast slipping away -- just like November -- but I will persevere and post my Friday five.  This has been one of those days when I feel as if I am literally running in circles around my house trying to accomplish several different, important tasks.  This blog post is one of them, though not the top priority.  So here goes.  The adorable image above, by the way, is from The Graphics Fairy.

1.  Lunch with good friends after church on Sunday.  So good to catch up with them over a meal at our table!  As mentioned and linked in Monday's post, this is what we ate:

2.  Electricity restored on Tuesday after a 13-hour outage.  In light of all the hurricane damage (not to mention normal living conditions in much of the world), I know I sound like a wimp (and I feel like one, too), but there is only so much of what's on my plate right now that can be done without lights, electricity, water, and internet.  Working on my Etsy shop, A New Hampshire Attic, is part of that.  The image below is a recently listed vintage Christmas card in my shop.


3.  Having time to go through my Christmas fabric stash and wash the new fabrics in it, in preparation for sewing, perhaps, a few more simple gifts.  We will see, but it made me happy to see what I had, prepare it for use,  and think about ways in which to use it.
Photo for illustration purposes only -- I don't own these, but I wish I did!
4.  The simple joy I find in creating.  I had sewed several easy projects as gifts for my faraway grandchildren. For the last one, I had my doubts about the fabrics I had chosen.  I was so thrilled, as I sewed this project on Wednesday afternoon, to see it come together beautifully.  Far better than I expected.  I just felt so contented and joyful as I sewed on this simple gift.  I need to find time to sew more often.
These are some handmade gifts from a previous Christmas.
5.  Figuring out a simple way to have December Daily here on my blog this year.  Come on back tomorrow for a visit!  For more fun, click "December Daily" in the label cloud at right to see more December posts from the archives.

Speaking of which, if you have never visited my Christmas blog, Mrs. T’s Christmas Kitchen, do come over and visit tomorrow. 

I love spending time in my Christmas kitchen, and Lord willing, I plan to be there every day in December.  Come on over!