Monday, November 29, 2021

The Ordinary Days of Small Things Winter Day Keeper 2021/22


 THE WINTER DAY KEEPER is now available! 
Click on the links below to download your **FREE COPY**



Also, just added THE ORDINARY DAYS OF SMALL THINGS CHRISTMAS PLAYLIST, available on Spotify!

Sixty personal selections of favorite, classic Christmas songs from my childhood that my family still enjoys today!

You'll find familiar songs you love and perhaps a few old gems that are not as well known, but equally as lovely!

I posted a link in the left side bar for easy access.

~ Enjoy!




Friday, November 26, 2021

Waiting in Wonder -
Ideas for Observing and Celebrating Advent 2021 - Fourth Sunday


FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Sunday, December 19, 2021

INTRODUCTORY HYMN
Missa Rorate Coeli. Listen, here.

Introit: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.

- Philippians 4:4-5 (Roman Missal)

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete: modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione petitiones vestrae innotescant apud Deum.

Ps. Benedixisti, Domine, terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Iacob.(Graduale Romanum)

THE READING OF THE WORD AND THE LIGHTING OF THE CANDLE
Micah 5:2-5
John 3:16-19

THE CANDLE OF LOVE
Light the Advent candle four
Think of joy forever more
Christ child in a stable born
Gift of love that Christmas morn.

Candle, candle burning bright
Shining in the cold winter night
Candle, candle burning bright
Fill our hearts with Christmas light.


HYMN
O Little Town of Bethlehem
This is the version I grew up listening to.
HAND CRAFTS 
WINTER SIMMERING POTPOURRI
2-3 cinnamon Sticks
1 cup dried cranberries or fresh
1 cup cried Orange Slices or you can use the rind or even fresh slices
1 tbsp clove
1 tbsp allspice
3-4 sprigs rosemary
1 tbsp cinnamon chips (optional)

Place water in a pot until about 1/2 of the way full and then add the ingredients.
Bring water to a slight boil and then turn the stove down to low heat.
Continue to simmer for an hour or two, replenishing water as needed.

CHRISTMAS SCENTED SALT DOUGH ORNAMENTS
2 cups plain flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground clove
2 tsp nutmeg
10 drops orange essential oil (optional but it adds to the amazing smell)

1. Mix the flour, salt, spices and the orange essential oil if you are using it.
2. Then, slowly add the water until you have a workable piece of dough. You don’t want it to be gooey and sticky, so I always
start with a little bit less water and add if I need more. The dough should be close to the consistency of play-dough.
3. Roll out the dough and cut out the desired shape that you want for your ornaments. If you are hanging the ornaments, you will need to use a skewer, straw or something to create the hole for your string.

1. Place the ornaments on a baking sheet and put in the oven at the lowest temperature possible. My oven was set to 170 degrees.
2. Bake the scented salt dough ornaments for 1 hour, then, flip them over and bake another hour.
3. Lastly, remove them from the oven and allow to cool. Then, be creative because you can leave them plain, paint them, create a garland, tie them on packages or simply use as ornaments.

RECIPES
ORANGE BIRTHDAY CAKE FOR JESUS
2 1/2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup oil (extra-virgin olive oil, canola, vegetable, coconut, or blood orange evoo)
1 cup fresh orange juice
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 - 2 teaspoons orange zest

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup butter softened
1 - 8- ounce pkg. cream cheese softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, stir flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In another mixing bowl, cream oil, orange juice, eggs, sour cream, and orange zest until completely mixed.

Fold in dry ingredients, mixing only until combined.

Pour into greased (3) 8-inch or (2) 9-inch cake pans.

Bake for 19-21 minutes, depending on the size of pan used. To test if the cakes are done, insert a toothpick in the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cakes are done. Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from pans.

To make frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese for 4 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of the bowl halfway through mixing. Stir in powdered sugar, orange zest, and orange juice.

Once cakes are cooled, frost with orange cream cheese frosting

OLD FASHIONED EGG NOG
12 medium egg yolk
1.5 cups or 320 g white granulated sugar
4 cups or 1 liter of 4% or full fat milk
2 cups or 500 ml heavy cream (31% fat or higher)
one teaspoon ground nutmeg, or adjust to taste,
one teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
Equipment Needed
blender
large bowl
whisk

Place the egg yolks and white sugar into the blender. Blend for about 2 minutes or until the mix thickens up. Pour the yolk-sugar mix into a large bowl, whisk in milk and cream. Continue mixing until the sugar has completely dissolved. Sprinkle in the nutmeg and pour in the vanilla, mix until well incorporated. Taste and adjust nutmeg if desired.
Chill until ready to serve. Sprinkle ground cinnamon over each cup before serving.

NOTES
1. The recipe calls for raw eggs. Consume at your own risk.
2. Whole fat milk and heavy cream yield thicker and better tasting eggnog.
3. For alcoholic version add a cup of good quality brandy or rum after nutmeg and vanilla has been added. Whisk again until
brandy/rum is well incorporated into the eggnog.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Wishing You And Yours A Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving

I wanted to take a few moments to thank each of you for your faithful support of my blog and for meeting with me here. I so enjoy nurturing my creative spirit in this space, and having someone to share it with makes it all the more worthwhile!

I'm going to take the next couple of days off to focus on finishing up our the preparation for our meal tomorrow and to be with my family, but I'll be back on Friday with the fourth Advent installment and the WINTER DAY KEEPER will be available on Monday, November 29, so be on the look out for it!

I pray that you and yours will have a 
BLESSED AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Until then . . .

Kim

Monday, November 22, 2021

Music for Your Thanksgiving Family Gatherings

I've shared these playlists on other occasions, but today I wanted to be sure remind you of these wonderful Autumn and Thanksgiving editions.  It was exactly a year ago that I first discovered these delightful seasonal collections and I listen to them frequently.  I am linking to You Tube, but you can find them on Spotify, as well.

This first selection, "Homeward Bound", is one I just discovered. It you're traveling at some point over the next week or month, it might add to the fun and excitement!


This playlist is specifically for Thanksgiving. We listened to it last year during our Thanksgiving meal and it added such a nice element.


These last three offerings have an Autumn theme, but if you just want to have some nice music playing in the background throughout the day, these are all nice additions.





Saturday, November 20, 2021

Small Things - The Thanksgiving Edition - November 20, 2021

 "Life is not, for most of us, a pageant of splendor, but is made up of many small things, rather like an old fashioned piecework quilt. No two people have the same, but we all have our own, whether it be listening to Beethoven's fifth with a beloved friend, or seeing a neighbor at the back door with a basket of white dahlias. Or after a long, hard day, having the family say, "That was a good supper."

GLADYS TABER

In no particular order, here are six small things that inspired me this week;

1. Light A Candle, from gratefulness.org, is a beautiful online activity that encourages thoughtfulness and thankfulness. 

2. Printable Thankful Dice - roll the dice and share what you're thankful for!

3. Gratitude Stones - I love this idea! You could set them out in a pretty basket along with a few chalk pens and allow people to reflect and add to the basket of gratefulness throughout the day!

4. Gratitude ABC's Printable - This would be great for the littles in your life, and for the not so littles, too!

5. Gratitude Scavenger Hunt - This would be a fun family activity after everyone has enjoyed the big meal.

6. And when you have the time, I encourage you to listen to this speechJack Canfield - How Gratitude Changed This Multi-Millionaires Life

Friday, November 19, 2021

From Grandma's Kitchen - Cranberry Jalapeño Jam

In the childhood memories of every good cook, there's a small kitchen, 
a warm stove, a simmering pot, and a Grandma!

Today I'm sharing a recipe that I made this week and quickly decided will become a regular staple in our pantry! I made four 1/2 pint jars, but I love this recipe so much that I'm planning to make several more over the next few weeks.  For me personally, the only thing I will be doing differently is not de-seeding all of the jalapeños, and adding more. This jam is sweet with a just a hint of jalapeño, so probably perfect for most people, but this Texas girl wants just a little more kick!  

This would make a wonderful appetizer for your holiday gatherings. Served over cream cheese with crackers (Whole Wheat Wheat Thins are my personal favorite), it makes a lovely presentation and is so good! I love this recipe so much I had it for lunch yesterday! I'm including the original recipe as well as my proposed modifications if you would like a bit more heat! Once I make my second batch, I'll let you know how it turned out!

CRANBERRY JALAPEÑO JAM
3 cups whole fresh cranberries (12oz. bag)
4 Jalapeños seeded and chopped (or 6 and only de-seed half for more heat)
1 lime, juiced
1 Tablespoon of Lime Zest
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 package powdered pectin*
2 cups sugar

Prepare your jars, 4 (1/2 pint) jelly jars with lids, by placing them in boiling water. Allow to simmer for at least 10 minutes while making jam.

Add cranberries, jalapeños, lime juice apple cider vinegar, and water in a medium saucepan  and bring to a boil, continuing to boil until the cranberries pop. Once they begin to pop, crush them with a potato masher.

Add pectin and bring to rolling boil*

Add sugar and bring back to a full rolling boil, and boil for 2 minutes then remove from heat.

Ladle into prepared jars jars

Wipe jar rims and cover with two-piece lids. 

Process jars in a hot water bath in canner pot for 10 minutes. 

Remove jars and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, check seals.
 
To serve, spoon jelly over an 8oz block of cream cheese and serve with your choice of crackers.

*I came across a recipe for jam, handed down to me from my paternal grandmother, and discovered that she never used pectin in her in her jam and jelly recipes. In her instructions she noted, "Never use pectin, take your time and wait until it looks "jammy". After a bit of research I discovered that she was not alone, and pectin, which acts as a thickener, isn't necessary. As my grandmother noted, the key to not using pectin, is time. The fruit and sugar need plenty of time to cook and thicken. Fruit varies in water content, so some recipes will take longer than others, but they do, indeed, start looking "jammy".  For now, I'm following Grandma's lead. If it worked for her, it should work for me, and so far it appears to be working fine. :)


Please note, all recipes previously labeled, Come To The Table, are now identified
under the heading, From Grandma's Kitchen.  Direct links to the four most recent recipes 
can be found in the right side bar where you will also find a link to take you to 
the previously posted recipes.  After the first of the year I'll be working on a recipe database
for ease of access in the future

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Life As Liturgy
- The Spiritual Awakening of A Protestant Girl


Some of you who have followed me here for awhile or at my previous blog, Life in the Little Nest, may be aware that I was not raised in a liturgical church. In fact, even as an adult the church bodies I was a part of were as far removed from liturgy and tradition as one could get. And yet, as a family, in the privacy of our "domestic church", we celebrate and observe the liturgy, and it has become an integral part of my personal faith, so much a part of my life now I can't imagine living without it.

My introduction to the liturgy came unexpectedly. It was right about the time we had begun homeschooling our youngest daughter, and the world of the internet provided a treasure trove of inspiration and resources to aide me. It was then that I first came to know several Catholic and Orthodox bloggers, such as Dawn from By Sun and Candlelight, Jennifer Mackintosh from Wildflowers and Marbles, Jessica Gordon from A Shower of Roses, and Emily Parsells from Charming The Birds From The Trees. In perusing their blogs for homeschooling inspiration, I began to realize that they lived out their faith very differently from the way I had been taught and I was instantly intrigued.

It was mid-winter, in the days prior to Lent that I first came to the knowledge of the liturgy. I read through each of these blogs voraciously, pen in hand and taking notes like a mad woman. That led me to other websites, and to purchasing my own copy of The Book of Common Prayer, I simply could not get enough!  When I think back on that time it is profound to me. I know of no other way to explain it other than from the moment I discovered it, it changed everything. I even briefly considered converting to Catholicism, but in spite of my love for the liturgy, there were other things that I found did not align with my personal beliefs, and so for the past sixteen years I suppose you could say I've teetered in limbo. Too protestant to be Catholic, and too Catholic to be protestant, and all the while growing increasingly frustrated with the modern day church as a whole. With its bent to appeal to "seekers", what was once reverent worship today resembles more of a rock concert. People come to church, not to be changed, but entertained. And in their efforts to heal those who were hurt by the "traditional church", I fear they have committed a greater offense, but I'm getting off track here. That's a post for another day and probably not even one I will expand upon in this space. A. W. Tozer said it best, and put words to my longing with this;

“I want the presence of God Himself, or I don't want anything at all to do with religion... 
I want all that God has or I don't want any.” 

- A. W. TOZER

That being said, the most important thing I learned from the liturgy is that my personal life and my spiritual life are, or should be, equally woven. Growing up, my family went to church on Sunday, and while my parents were good people, I seldom recall hearing about God at any other time. I'm not implying that it never happened, but it was so seldom I have difficulty conjuring a single memory. We said a prayer before every meal and at bed time, attended services every time the doors were open, but sadly I don't once recall seeing my parents reading their bible or praying. This left me with the belief that God was someone you visited on Sunday, and while I always recall being aware of His presence beyond the church doors, I just assumed that He had no interest in my day to day life. That only marginally changed when I "accepted Christ as my personal Savior", which in all honesty I did the first time to insure that I would not go to hell, which I later learned, isn't the reason at all. But after accepting Christ and being baptized I was admonished to establish " a slot and a spot" to read the word and pray, which OCD little me attended to immediately. And yet, over time even this began to feel rote. Without further direction or example, I wasn't connecting and I sensed that there had to be more.  It is perhaps truly by the grace of God, that I have always been a person with a deep need to understand not only how to do something, but the reason behind why it is done in the first place. I've always believed that there was so much more to life than what my limited senses could fathom, and discovering the liturgy was that first break of light. It set me on the path of fully integrating my life and into establishing a deep, personal relationship with God and my Savior.

Now, after sixteen years of studying and living the liturgy, what I have come to believe, among other things, is this. That all of life, as our act of service and worship, is liturgy and is not relegated to only specific, formal “spiritual” moments. Whenever, and wherever I am in service to God, I am living out an everyday liturgy of deliberate worship. If we wait until we are at church, or until the time is convenient to commune with God, we’ll miss most of the opportunities before us. The majority of our chances are found in life’s everyday moments –at the grocery store, walking outside to get the mail, feeding our kids breakfast, or driving down the highway. It’s in these moments that we find ourselves reaching out to God.

"Liturgy is our daily, vibrant dance with God Himself... through the reading, memorization, and meditating on Scripture, the singing of hymns, the lighting of a candle, through the signs of the cup and the bread... Liturgy is our pressing into the heart of God and moving with Him. Days, wild and crazy days of  family life, need order, scaffolding, sacred rhythms. If we say God is at the center, so we order the tangle of our days around Him: we commune with Him through the liturgical, sacred everyday rhythms of our public work, our daily service, our vocation. And He untangles us." 

- ANN VOSKAMP

The observation and celebration of the Liturgical Year has brought new meaning and richness into my life. It has sanctified the senseless and turned holidays into holy days filled with deeper meaning. These are not senseless acts or rote rituals. This is not food offered to demi-gods in hopes of securing our place in the heavenly realms. This is, as Ann Voskamp has one again surpassed me in expressing, "our everyday liturgy, a quotidian dance of worship, we may grow stiff, spiritually awkward, lukewarm. As the trees of the field perform their praise in the beauty of daily, quotidian rhythms, we too may enter into the quotidian liturgy of sacred rhythms, hallowed habits ... a sacrificed life which is our spiritual act of worship".

Living the liturgy is the laying down of our lives, our schedules, and all that "must be done", and remembering what He has done for us. Jesus came into the world that we may not only have life, but have it abundantly. By observing the liturgical year, we open ourselves up to experience and live in that abundance. We step into the world of "I am", where we "move and live and have our being". In the liturgy of life, the present moment IS eternity.

"Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering." 

- ROMANS 12:1 - THE MESSAGE

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Waiting in Wonder -
Ideas for Observing and Celebrating Advent 2021 - Third Sunday


THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Sunday, December 12, 2021
INTRODUCTORY HYMN
Missa Gaudete. Listen, here.

Introit: I exult for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God; for he has clothed me in the garment of salvation and robed me in the cloak of justice, like a bride adorned with her jewels. 

- Isaiah 61:10 (Roman Missal)

Gaudens gaudebo in Domino et exsultabit anima mea in Deo meo: quia induit me vestimentis salutis, et indumento iustitiæ circumdedit me, quasi sponsam ornatam monilibus suis

Ps. Exaltabo te, Domine, quoniam suscepisti me: nec delecasti inimicos meos super me.(Graduale Romanum)

THE READING OF THE WORD AND THE LIGHTING OF THE ADVENT WREATH CANDLE
Matthew 2:10-11

“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” (NIV)the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end. 



THE CANDLE OF JOY
Light the Advent candle three 
Think of heavenly harmony 
Angels singing "Peace on Earth" 
At the Blessed Saviour's birth.

Candle, candle burning bright 
Shining in the cold winter night 
Candle, candle burning bright
Fill our hearts with Christmas light.

HYMN
Joy To The World
Here's a pretty standard version for singing along, but I LOVE this one!
HAND CRAFTS
The star is one of the most recognized symbols of Christmas, and what better time to incorporate into your handcrafts and holiday baking than at Christmas.  They would be especially fitting for your Twelfth Night celebrations, as well, but are fitting any time during the Christmas season.

CINNAMON APPLESAUCE STARS
2 cups cinnamon, plus extra for dusting
2 cups applesauce
Mix together equal parts cinnamon and applesauce until well incorporated and dough forms.
If too sticky, add more cinnamon.
Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper to 1/4 inch thickness.
Cut out shapes and place them on a baking sheet.
Bake at 200 degrees F for 2 hours.
Dust with additional cinnamon while still warm.
Allow the shapes to set and dry completely by placing them on a cooling rack for 24 hour

You can use sandpaper to smooth out the edges if they are jagged once the shapes are dry.

Makes about 18 ornaments, depending on size.

And if you would like other ideas for some star shaped seasonal crafts, here are links to a few others.

RECIPES
I've had this recipe on my radar for awhile now

MAPLE CINNAMON STAR COOKIES
2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spoon and leveled)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 and 1/2 teaspoons maple extract*
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
gold sprinkles and/or edible glitter sprinkles
optional: 8 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the egg, maple extract, and vanilla extract then beat on high until fully combined, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

Turn the mixer down to low and add about half of the flour mixture, beating until just barely combined. Add the rest of the flour and continue mixing until just combined. If the dough still seems too soft, you can add 1 Tablespoon more flour until it is a better consistency for rolling.

Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment (or a silicone baking mat, what I prefer!) to about 1/4″ thickness. Stack the pieces, with parchment paper between the two, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours and up to 1 day. Chilling is mandatory. If chilling for more than a couple hours, cover the top dough piece with a single piece of parchment paper.

Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and using a cookie cutter, cut into star shapes. Transfer the cut cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used.

Before baking, top with sprinkles. Use a spoon to press the sprinkles into the cookies so they stay secure on top.

Bake for 10-11 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Make sure you rotate the baking sheet halfway through bake time. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before dipping into chocolate.

If using, melt the chopped white chocolate in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after each until completely melted. Dip the cookies into the white chocolate and allow chocolate to set completely at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE
This is a recipe that I've been making around the holidays for a couple of years now. I usually make it in the crock pot to keep it warm. The combination of the chocolate along with the spices, especially the cayenne is just the best!

4 cups whole milk
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
4 oz bittersweet chocolate , chopped
7 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Optional Toppings:
marshmallows (regular or mini)
whipped cream
pinch of cinnamon
drizzle of chocolate sauce
grated chocolate

To a large saucepan, dutch oven or stockpot, add all ingredients and heat over MED heat. Whisk as it heats, to combine all ingredients until smooth. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes.


Pour into mugs and top with desired toppings. My usual preference is whipped cream, grated chocolate, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Small Things - November 13, 2021

"Life is not, for most of us, a pageant of splendor, but is made up of many small things, rather like an old fashioned piecework quilt. No two people have the same, but we all have our own, whether it be listening to Beethoven's fifth with a beloved friend, or seeing a neighbor at the back door with a basket of white dahlias. Or after a long, hard day, having the family say, "That was a good supper."

GLADYS TABER

In no particular order, here are six small things that inspired me this week.

1. As you may know, I love just about anything gingerbread flavored, and I'm thinking of giving this gingerbread jam a try. 

2. I don't eat donuts often, but my daughter bought a mini-donut maker and maple bacon donuts are my favorite and I'm hoping to make some this week. 

3. In thinking ahead to Advent, I watched this yesterday, Create Rest During Advent. You might enjoy it, too.

4. I've made little crocheted Christmas trees before, but I came across this pattern this week and they are so cute! 

5. I took part in a Cozy Virtual Summit hosted by Homespun Seasonal Living, and I was introduced to Jenn Campus of Old Ways For Modern Days. I really enjoyed her session, and I've also found some nice resources on her website, as well. 

6. I've been listening to Beth Kempton's Calm Christmas podcast and I'm really enjoying it. I bought the book last year, but to be honest its one of those purchases that I'm happy to own, but I haven't read it yet. But the podcast has really inspired me to pick it up off the shelf.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Sixty Trips Around The Sun!

Yesterday was my birthday, 60 trips around the sun, which I'm still trying to wrap my head around. The picture above is my birthday cake, and rather than risk setting off the smoke alarm, I opted for one candle for each decade, plus, the cake was small, I don't think it would have held that many candles, nor did I want to blow them all out!  

I made the cake myself, which is fine (honestly). I'd much prefer to make a cake I know I'm going to enjoy eating, and as usual, I made my favorite! I was excited to finally find a simple white icing that I love, and I'll never make another! I made cream cheese icing for our cupcakes at Halloween and didn't care for it at all, but this recipe is my new go-to!  I also went with a minimally iced cake, which is popular of late, and I have to say, as someone who doesn't care that much for icing, this is perfection! As for the adornments, I just used what I loved and had on hand. The little black house and pine tree (a recent Target find!), are just so me.

The cake stand is one I picked up at a thrift store several years ago. It's wooden and adorned with the sweetest little pattern all around the edges of the plate and on the stand on the bottom. I tried to get a picture of the entire piece, but I just couldn't get a good angle, but you can see it right around the outer edges of the cake in the picture on the right. I just adorned it with some Christmas greenery that I use for our Advent candles, and voila! Quite possibly my favorite cake ever, and it tastes so good! I think the thing I love most about this cake is the simple beauty of it! By using things I loved and already had on hand it make it special without being costly. And I can't rave enough about the minimal icing! It makes creating a beautiful cake a breeze for someone who is not very skilled! If a bit of the cake mixes in with the icing, it just adds to the rustic feel of the design, easy peasy!

"With mirth and laughter, let old wrinkles come!"

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

For dinner I made copycat Pappasitos beef fajitas and they were divine! I also found another recipe for mexican rice that I think I like even better than the one I've been using for several years now. I've posted that recipe before, but I'll post the one I used last night, soon, in case you want to give it a try. I was going to make a pot of pinto beans, but I ran out of time and just opened a can of refried beans and called it day! I did make homemade flour tortillas, though, because in my book, they are a must! So much better than store-bought, and so easy! Once you've made them, you'll never look back! 

My favorite gift was a Snoopy blanket (I'm a HUGE Peanuts/Snoopy fan!) that my daughter bought for me. I also picked up a few little treasures from the dollar spot at Target, and with the cash I received I'm considering purchasing the DVD of the new Homecoming movie that is set to air on November 28. It's a remake of the original Walton's Homecoming movie, which I LOVE, and actually may watch this weekend. I tend to watch a few of my favorite several times throughout the season. But, before I purchase the DVD I want to make sure I even like it! If you're interested in watching it, it will air on Sunday, November 28 on CW, 7-9 p.m. CST.  Richard Thomas, who played John Boy in the original series, is the narrator. A lot of people are skeptical because they love the original cast and storyline, and I understand that. I just try to look at this as a stand alone project and appreciate it for what it is and not compare. Aside from the DVD, I've had my eye on several books for awhile now and I'm considering adding them to my library, American Cozy: Hygge Inspired Ways to Create Comfort and Coziness, and Escape Into Cottagecore: Embrace Cosy Countryside Comfort In Your Everyday . I also found this title, which is included with my Kindle Unlimited Membership, so I'm planning to take a look at it.

All in all it was perfectly lovely day! I'm thankful for another year of life and pray that the Lord will continue to sustain and use me for His service! I pray that I will live to a ripe old age, which some of my readers may consider I've already reached, but oddly enough, I don't feel (and thankfully, don't look) my age! I don't know at what age you reach "old", but for me, I'm not there yet!

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Waiting In Wonder -
Ideas For Observing And Celebrating Advent 2021 - Second Sunday


SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Sunday, December 5, 2021

INTRODUCTORY HYMN
 Missa Populus Sion. Listen, here.

Introit: People of Zion, the Lord will come to save all nations, and your hearts will exult to hear his majestic voice.
- Based on Isaiah 30:19,30, (Roman Missal)

Populus Sion, ecce Dominus veniet ad salvandas gentes: et auditam faciet Dominus gloriam vocis suae, in laetitia cordis vestri.

Ps. Qui regis Israel, intende: qui deducis velut ovem Ioseph.(Graduale Romanum)

THE READING OF THE WORD AND THE LIGHTING OF THE ADVENT WREATH CANDLE
Isaiah 40:3-5
“A voice of one calling:
‘In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’” (NIV)


THE CANDLE OF PEACE
Light the Advent candle two,

think of humble shepherds who,

filled with wonder at the sight,

of the child on Christmas night.



Candle, candle burning bright,

shining in the cold winter night.

Candle, candle burning bright,

fill our hearts with Christmas light.

HYMN
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Listen, here, or listen to this beautiful version.  We enjoy listening to this at the end of every Advent devotional during the season.

Click on image to enlarge, right click and save to your computer.

HAND CRAFTS
Traditionally we put up our tree the weekend before Thanksgiving, although in recent years, I've held out for the weekend after, but always before the first Sunday of Advent.  

However, with the scripture reference to "the voice crying in the wilderness", and the poems mention of "the humble shepherds", it might hold special meaning to put up the tree on this day.  Not that there were pine trees in the fields, but most likely there were some trees, and as I though on this it just seemed an obvious fit.  I don't even know that I will hold out until the second Sunday of Advent, but it's a lovely thought, just the same.

That being said, perhaps you could even place the tree the day before and put on nothing but the lights and save the fun of decorating together as a family for today.  Or you could put the tree and the lights up and then decorate it a little more each night, adding different elements. As I've said in previous posts, there is no wrong way to observe the season, all that matters is what is right for you and for your family! So whenever you choose to decorate your tree, here are some lovely ideas for adorning it!

CHRISTMAS TREE GINGERBREAD ORNAMENTS
1 cup shortening (I used butter)
1 cup light brown sugar
3 farm-fresh eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups molasses
6 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tablespoons ginger
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon,

1. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and add the brown sugar, eggs, and molasses. Sift together all the dry ingredients and add them to the butter mixture. Mix thoroughly and chill well ­before rolling out on a floured slab. 2. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a cookie sheet.

3. Place them on the greased cookie sheet and bake them in the preheated oven. Bake until dry but not crisp.

CANDY CANE ORNAMENTS
A shepherds crook is a long and sturdy stick with a hook at one end used to guide and manage sheep. In tribute to the shepherds, why not decorate your tree with candy canes.  Of course you may choose to use the real thing, which we did for a number of years and it was lovely.  But here are some other ideas you might want to consider as well.

Rustic Holiday Candy Canes - wrapped in burlap and ribbon and adorned with bells and greenery.
Prim Candy Canes wrapped in twine, or these wrapped in red gingham, so cute!
Pipe Cleaner Candy Canes - these would be super easy and fun for the littles in your life!
Beaded Candy Canes - and these would be great for the not-so-little littles, so they won't be tempted to put the beads in their mouth!
Salt Dough Candy Cane Ornaments - I just love salt dough, and these are especially cute!

RECIPES
PEPPERMINT COOKIES
So while we're on the subject of candy canes, why not make up something that features them!? There are more recipes than you can shake a candy cane at, :), but here are a few that caught my eye!

- Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies
- Peppermint Melt-Aways
- Ultra Soft Peppermint Sugar Cookies
- Peppermint Snowball Cookies
- Frosted Peppermint Brownie Cookies

I traditionally make a sweet little peppermint sugar cookie dusted with peppermint sugar and drizzled with chocolate every year, but as odd as it may sound, I can't find a single picture of them. So I'll save that post for another day!

And, since we discussed putting up your Christmas tree, if you prefer a live tree (we do, but due to allergies in the family have always used an artificial tree), you might like to make up a batch of this and have it waiting for everyone, along with some of the cookies you've made! My long-time blogging friend, Rachel Proffit, shared this recipe with me last year.

CHRISTMAS TREE FARM APPLE CIDER PUNCH
2 cups hard cider
2 cups apple juice
1/2 cup of sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice

Method: Boil and simmer to allow flavours to infuse. That's where the slow cooker came in handy!.




Monday, November 8, 2021

What I Did This Weekend


The weather this weekend was absolute perfection, and for all that perfection I still managed to spend almost every bit of it inside. But no matter, I was busy "puttering", which is a lovely word I like to use for housework, but you know, the fun kind, where you add a few new touches here and there, move a few things around, change out your coffee bar with holiday cups and buy the ingredients for a scrumptious cocoa bar. Yes, that's what I call puttering. In the midst of all this loveliness there were still the usuals, dusting, laundry, and taking out the trash which seems to happen all too often, but because I was busy puttering I didn't seem to mind.

This past week was hard. A deer hit my car as my daughter was driving it home from work Wednesday night. I'm not sure what the insurance company will do. It's an older model and my guess is they won't think it's worth repairing. But I love that little car, so we'll see. For the time being that leaves me without a car, and to be honest the deer problem is SO bad around here right now I'm honestly afraid to get a rental. My daughter has a little SUV and we go almost everywhere together anyway, so I'm not homebound, and if you know me I probably wouldn't even care much if I was. I used Insta-cart for the first time this week to order some groceries. The first delivery was free so I took advantage of that then promptly cancelled it, but I will say, if it were not for all the fees an introverted girl could get used to that sort of thing!

Then on Thursday night my daughter went to a late movie with some friends and accidentally left her wallet underneath the seat and we have yet to recover it. She put a hold on all of her cards and we posted about it on a very active local FB group, but so far no luck. I think we are going to try to go back to the theater tomorrow and look for ourselves. They said they looked thoroughly, but I don't really trust was with the same level of thoroughness I require. I'm praying for a miracle, but right now it looks like a loss. 

Both of these incidents left me pretty stressed, and so on Saturday I just decided to try to put it all out of my mind and into the Lord's hands and spend the day in the kitchen. It's been years since I canned anything, but I bought a canner and some other supplies back in the spring and determined to learn to make a few things. Since we live in an apartment I can't garden, certainly not enough to require canning, so I settled on making a couple of different kinds of marmalade and Cowboy Candy, which is just candied jalapenos. Since it's just me and my daughter right now I made small batches. I made three 4 oz. jars of Cranberry Orange Marmalade and three more of Spicy Orange Marmalade, and six 4 oz. cans of Cowboy Candy. I've found that the 4 oz. jars work best for us as it's typically just the right amount for 2-4 servings,  and avoids waste. I also made candied orange peel and oh my is it good! You might recall in my Advent post from last week that I included a recipe for Chocolate Orange cookies. Well, the recipe calls for candied orange peel. I had a little on hand last year, but I ran out and when I started looking to purchase more I didn't want to pay the price for an ingredient I use probably once, maybe twice a year. So I decided to google how to make it myself and am I ever glad that I did! I can't believe the difference in the taste and quality, though that shouldn't surprise me, but it so good! Thankfully I did read where a few had said that you need to boil the orange peel for 10 minutes, drain it and then boil it at least once and perhaps even two more times to kind of soften and melt away the pith to keep it from being bitter. So I did that and then continued on with the recipe and it turned out SO good! I'll be sharing more about all of the things I made in upcoming posts, so be watching for them!

I started reading a lovely little book at The Archives today, Winter Blessings: Thoughts and Poems To Warm Your Heart. I know it isn't winter for a good six weeks or more, but once the leaves begin to fall from the trees and we have our first frost, my heart turns delightedly to the cozy days of winter, which I'm honestly beginning to believe may even surpass my love for Autumn, it's hard to say! I love every season, in it's time, but as I've said before, the "ber" months are by far my favorites and from now until mid-March I'm more contented than at any other time of the year. Anyway, the book is just lovely, so much so that I've decided a digital image copy won't suffice and I ordered a good used copy from Amazon. Unfortunately it won't arrive until around the first week of December, but I've found those time frames are often wrong, so maybe it will come sooner. None the less, it will be here before winter actually arrives and until then I can make do.

And now my friends I have a busy day of less than puttery delights to attend to, but that's what makes those days all the sweeter, right? It's just like one of the quotes in Winter Blessings said;

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; If we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be some welcome.” 

- ANNE BRADSTREET

I hope you had a lovely weekend, as well, my friends! Feel free to share your happenings in the comments, I'd love to here. And don't forget to check in for Tuesday Afternoon Tea tomorrow when our topics for discussion will be First Frost Cranberries * Autumn Apothecary and Self Care

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Small Things - November 6, 2021

 "Life is not, for most of us, a pageant of splendor, but is made up of many small things, rather like an old fashioned piecework quilt. No two people have the same, but we all have our own, whether it be listening to Beethoven's fifth with a beloved friend, or seeing a neighbor at the back door with a basket of white dahlias. Or after a long, hard day, having the family say, "That was a good supper."

GLADYS TABER

In no particular order, here are six small things that inspired me this week.

1. Katie at Homespun Seasonal Living is hosting a **FREE** online virtual summit next week,  A Cozy Gathering! From Monday, November 8 through Wednesday, November 10, 2021, 15 speaker experts will present video sessions and live Q+A throughout the day on topics of simple living throughout the seasons, preservation and eating seasonal foods, crafting, homemaking, and herbalism. I'm all signed up and can't wait to enjoy it! Registration closes soon, so if you want to join in the fun, sign up here for free access.

2. One of my goals for 2022 it to get serious about eliminating toxic cleaning products from our home. It's been on my mind for some time now, but if I'm honest I haven't made it the priority I should have. But I'm determined to do better and thankfully there's a wealth of information available to make your own, including these 5 Natural Cleaning Recipes For Your Bathroom.

3. A Virtuous Woman has a **FREE** Holiday Planner as well as a fun Holiday Planning Challenge which breaks tasks down each week to help you manage the busy season! The initial post says 2020, but if you scroll down there are updates for 2021!  I don't now if I'll participate in all of it, but I've downloaded the planner and I hope to look over it this weekend!

4. These Tissue Paper Lanterns are just the cutest! Probably not a project I'm going to try to add in to my already packed holiday schedule, but I've bookmarked it and plan to give it a try after the first of the year.

5. I love granola on top of my yogurt for a sweet treat, and this Gingerbread Granola sounds perfect for the season, and with the sweet printable would make a perfect gift!

6. I came across this recipe this week for Gingerbread Fudge and I've added it to my list of recipes to try out this year! I LOVE the flavor of gingerbread like most people love pumpkin spice and I'm always looking for anything with that flavor! I just ordered this tea yesterday and I can't wait for it to arrive!

Friday, November 5, 2021

Celebrating Martinmas: The Feast of St. Martin

Next Thursday, November 11, is not only my birthday, but it also one of my favorite celebrations and observances of The Year of the Lord,  Saint Martin's Day or Martinmas.  

HISTORY
Martinmas celebrates the selfless giving impulse exemplified by St. Martin of Tours, a soldier in the Roman army. St. Martin is the patron saint of beggars, drunkards, and the poor. His feast day falls during the wine harvest in Europe, and because of this, he is also the patron saint of wine growers and innkeepers.

Born into a pagan family in what is now Hungary around AD 316, Martin grew up in Lombardy (Italy). Coming to the Christian faith as a young person, he began a career in the Roman army. But sensing a call to a church vocation, Martin left the military and became a monk, affirming that he was "Christ's Soldier". He founded several monasteries that served the sick and poor.

One day in November he rose early in the morning and rode from his simple room into the city of Amiens, Gaul. Frigid rain pelted against his face and it was so dark a lantern barely lit his path. Suddenly, his horse stopped at the city gates. A poorly-clad beggar stood beside the path with his hands stretched out asking for help. But St. Martin had nothing to give the beggar. In spite of his high position in the army, he lived in poverty, only serving the poor, the sick and those in need of consolation. But St. Martin's compassionate heart was inventive. Swinging his warm red soldiers' cloak off his back, he cut it in half and gave one half to the beggar. That night he had a dream in which Christ appeared dressed in the half cloak and said, "Today you have shared your cloak with me, from now on you are to be called St. Martin." 

Eventually Martin was named the Bishop of Tours in Western Gaul (France). He is remembered for his simple lifestyle and his determination to share the gospel throughout rural Gaul. Incidentally, on St. Martin's day in 1483, the one day old son of Hans and Margarette Luther was baptized and given the name, "Martin" Luther.

In honor of St. Martin people everywhere gather at night and carry candle filled lanterns on a walk, singing lantern songs and sharing light and warmth of the community. The festival calls on us to remember the light within our lives that we can share to light the way for others. Such a beautiful celebration.

St. Martin’s Feast is much like the American Thanksgiving – a celebration of the earth’s bounty, and yet children were also known to dress up as beggars and carry lanterns through the streets asking for sweets, which sounds much like Halloween.

Tradition says that if it snows on the feast of St. Martin, November 11, then St. Martin came on a white horse and there will be snow on Christmas day. However, if it doesn’t snow on this day, then St. Martin came on a dark horse and it will not snow on Christmas.

CELEBRATING MARTINMAS
Lantern Walk

The sunlight fast is dwindling
My little lamp needs kindling
Let your light shine bright
Into the darkest night
Little lantern guide me 
With your precious light

A lantern walk after dark is a very special experience for a young child, or even as an adult. This festival is beautiful and powerful whether you gather with community to walk and sing together or just go out in the backyard for a quiet lantern-lit walk with your family.

Lanterns are easy to make with just a few supplies and a tealight candle - here are four ways to make lanterns for Martinmas.

Glass Lanterns
Take an empty glass jar and cover with bits and scraps of colorful tissue paper using paintbrushes dipped in mod podge or white glue mixed half-and-half with water. Use three pipe cleaners to make a handle: Twist two pipe cleaners together to make a long handle and attach them to the third pipe cleaner. Twist the third pipe cleaner below the rim of the jar in a tight circle. I love this idea, and I'm going to book mark it for next year so I can be on the lookout for the perfect glass jar!

Old Fashioned Turnip Lanterns (or Small Pumpkins)
Use a knife to carve out a turnip into a lantern - just like a jack-o-lantern but much smaller and portable! There are some beautiful examples of turnip lanterns, here.

Balloon Lanterns
Blow up balloons and put them in bowls to keep them steady. Use paintbrushes and a mixture of half white glue, half water to stick on many layers of colorful tissue paper. Take your time and add lots of layers, being careful not to leave any thin spots. You can also add pressed leaves or flowers. Let it dry at least overnight and then pop the balloons and slowly pull them out. Use a hole punch to make two holes and fashion a handle from thin wire or pipe cleaners.

Paper Lanterns
Here is a rather involved but beautiful tutorial for a paper lantern. And here is another using some of the same techniques, but with a watercolor picture that shines through. Not to mention this blog, I'm going to have to go back and spend some time here.

Star Lanterns
This tutorial will guide you in making little star lanterns, which we made several times over the years. I love to decorate the dinner table with them on Martinmas and eat by candlelight. The fact that it's also my birthday, adds a lovely touch to the celebration. There a little tricky to make at first, but after you get the hang of it, they move pretty quickly. Here's a tutorial for another that I've never tried, but it is lovely! 

St. Martin's Beggar Bags
Crumple simple brown lunch bags to symbolize simplicity and poverty. Traditionally they are filled with walnuts, almonds, chestnuts and figs, but you could use any nuts or dried fruit that you have on hand. These are a fun treat for the children.

Give to the Poor
One of the ways we have celebrated Martinmas in the past, and I will most likely doing again this year is by donating warm clothes to our local homeless shelters. 

A Special Gift
Another lovely tradition I read about recently was gifting your children a new hat, scarf and mittens for the upcoming winter months in honor of the warmth St. Martin shared.

Pray for the Military
St. Martin was a Roman soldier and November 11th is Armistice Day and Veterans Day.

Share a Special Meal
Martinmas is the end of fall harvest, so breads and cakes are common. Since it's my birthday, cake is definitely in order. Aside from that I haven't decided what our meal will be. Being my birthday complicates things a little, because typically I would make one of my favorites, but I also love the idea of a simple meal, in honor of the poor and simple people that St. Martin served, so I'm thinking something along the lines of a soup or stew with bread

Goose is often eaten in Germany. The legend goes that whilst trying to avoid being ordained bishop, St Martin hid in a goose pen only to be betrayed by the squawking of the geese. Around Europe, many people still celebrate Martinmas with roast goose dinners. Since cooking a goose is pretty much out the question, the closest thing I could think of to match that is chicken, and  right now I've got my eye on this, Creamy Wild Rice and Chicken Soup.  But beef dinners are popluar on St. Martin's day in Ireland and the UK, and while this recipe is neither Irish or British, it does use beef and combines my love for anything mexican and with some heat, Red Chili Beef Stew.  So while I don't have a set menu, one thing is for sure, it will be delicious!

Rhymes and Folklore
As with so many of these feasts days, there are several rhymes and predictions, if you will, associated with St. Martin's day. Here are a few I've gathered if you want to add a little fun to your celebrations.

"If the wind is in the south-west on St Martin’s Day, it will stay there right through to Candlemas in February, thus ensuring a mild and snow-free winter."

“Thunder in November means winter will be late in coming and going”

“If the geese at Martin’s Day stand on ice, they will walk in mud at Christmas.”

"Ice before Martinmas,
Enough to bear a duck.
The rest of winter,
Is sure to be but muck!”

Martinmas celebrations begin at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of this eleventh day of the eleventh month (11:11 am on November 11). Reading this always takes me back to a very special night in my life, ten years ago this November 11, in fact. I turned 50 on 11-11-11 (November 11, 2011), and as a special celebration my girls and I stayed up and celebrated my birthday at 11:11 p.m. It is one of my fondest memories. Ten years later and turning sixty this year, which is incomprehensible to me, I'm more likely to entertain celebrating over an early lunch, say at 11:11 a.m. :)

Bon Fires
Another lovely way to celebrate the day is with a bonfire, but since we live in an apartment complex, I'm fairly sure that would be frowned upon. :) But if you're able it might be a fun setting to return to after your lantern walk. Perhaps even set up a table nearby and if you have power place a warming soup or stew in the crock pot and. have bowls and spoons for everyone to serve themselves and enjoy their meal around the fire.

And if this isn't enough inspiration already, I've gathered a few links with additional ideas,


And in my searching, I came across this post which highlights the other feast days in November, a few which I usually observe that got by me this year, such as All Souls and All Saints Day. Every year I vow to do better, but in all sincerity I've finally learned you can't do it all, or at least, I can't! But there are a few days in this lovely rhythm of life that I rarely allow to pass and St. Martin's Day is one. So I hope if this if your first time hearing of it, or if you've observed it before, that you're leaving with some ideas and inspiration for celebrating this lovely day!