Tuesday, November 30, 2021

A Necessary Postponement

Good Tuesday to you, my friends! I am popping to let you know that life has dictated that I once again postpone our weekly tea until tomorrow! I'm in the eleventh hour of completing my November / Pre-Christmas to-do list and I am determined to finish so that I can truly enter into a season of Advent and rest and just enjoy this lovely season!  I appreciate your understanding, and I am already looking forward to tea time tomorrow, as that will mean my goals were accomplished and I can truly sit back and enjoy the reward for my efforts!  I'm knee deep in our pantry right now, which I'm too ashamed to post a before picture of, getting it cleaned and organized for holiday baking! But if you don't hear from me around 2-3 p.m. tomorrow, you've been informed, that was the last place I was known to be alive! :)

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**


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

Sunday, December 19, 2021

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)

Micah 5:2-5
John 3:16-19

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.

O Little Town of Bethlehem
This is the version I grew up listening to.
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.

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.

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

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
large bowl

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.

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 

Until then . . .


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Tuesday Afternoon Tea - November 23, 2021

Good Tuesday morning, my friends, and welcome, in this case, to TUESDAY MORNING COFFEE TIME! A bit of a diversion from my regular afternoon tea posts, but in light of all that must be done over the next few days in preparation for Thanksgiving, I knew that if I didn't attend to this post early, that it most likely wouldn't happen at all. I'm sure you understand!

I've featured the little cup and saucer I've chosen for today before, I call these my "breakfast dishes", as that is primarily when I use them to add a lovely little element to the start of my day. But years before this, these were the dishes that my girls and I often used for our own Tuesday Afternoon Tea during our homeschooling days, so they hold a lot of sentiment and memories.

Since this is a breakfast "tea time", my drink of choice for today is Cinnamon Vanilla coffee with Cinnabon Creamer, so good! Not really good for you, but sugar isn't something I have completely eliminated from my diet, especially this time of the year. I do try to consume in moderation, but unfortunately I'm allergic to almost every sugar substitute on the market, so rather than eliminating sugar, I focus on eliminating preservatives and ingredients that I can't pronounce. That being said, coffee creamers are loaded with preservatives, so I consume it in moderation so that I can indulge! :)

As for my treat, this is a gouda pastry that I picked up in the bakery clearance section at Walmart yesterday. I discovered this when we were in the van and needed quick, easy breakfasts from time to time. I think they are normally around a dollar, but this one was marked down to fifty cents. Knowing that the next two days are filled with baking and cooking and preparing for Thanksgiving, breakfast was the one meal I didn't want to have to think about, and this filled the need. Slathered with a bit of the cranberry orange compound butter I made yesterday (recipe coming soon!), it's the perfect treat!

And now lets move on to our weekly topics for conversation, which are some of my favorites!


The familiar song, often heard around this time of year, Over The River And Through The Woods is derived from a poem written by Lydia Marie Childs. I'm not certain before today that I ever knew that. For me it was just one of those songs that I picked up somewhere along the way in my childhood.  Such a catchy tune, I have a vivid memory of laying in the back seat of my dad's Ford Pinto with my brother and singing this song at the top of our lungs. And we were indeed headed to my grandmother's house for Thanksgiving, though we were far removed from woods of any kind, and nowhere near a river.  Back then it felt like it took at least a half of a day to arrive, but when I returned home several years ago , I was shocked to find that it was less than fifteen minutes. 

My memories of those holidays at my grandmother's house are warm and inviting. I've spoken of my paternal grandmother before, and of the house she lived in. My grandparents were not poor, but they never had much, as far as material wealth. Their house was old, and so was the furniture in it, but my grandmother had a knack for making things look and feel warm and inviting. My father had two sisters, and they each had grown children, and we all gathered, snug but comfortable into that little house every year at Thanksgiving. The long table in the kitchen was set with a clean white tablecloth and loaded to the brim with turkey, ham and all the trimmings. My grandmother was an excellent cook, and made the most wonderful cakes and pies. 

Some years we spent Thanksgiving with my maternal grandparent's as well, though if my memory serves me well, it seems to me that our main Thanksgiving meal was almost always with my paternal grandparents and Christmas was with my mom's side of the family. Of course we always made our way to visit with both sides of the family at some point, and would typically have dessert or just a small serving of leftovers. I was closer to my maternal grandparents, and I had cousins close to my age, as well, so naturally as a child I preferred it. But the older I've grown the more I've come to love and appreciate my paternal grandparents and wish that I had spent more time, asking more questions and getting to know them better. I hope we hold our memories of our lives on earth when we reach heaven. Scripture says that we will know one another, and if that's true, I might set aside a hundred years or more just to be with my grandmother, and to be honest, I've got my fingers crossed that there will be gardens in heaven, too, because that's likely where she'll be.

"Over the River and Through The Woods" is the theme I've chosen for our Thanksgiving tablescape this year, and I can't wait to share pictures with you later in the week!

Before I close out this section, I want to direct you to a video I found on You Tube,  Anthology: The Story of Thanksgiving from November 21, 1954. Anthology, was broadcast from New York. The show presented "A selections of readings from poets, past and present and the music to accompany their poetry." Bing Crosby, Helen Hayes, Frank Lovejoy, Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt, Orson Welles, Agnes Moorehead, Walter Huston, and many more stars were recorded at the show as the poetry readers. In this episode, Agnes Moorhead, of Bewitched fame, reads Over the River and Through The Woods.

The link I've provided above features a selection of short stories and poetry with a focus on Thanksgiving, and is delightful to listen to.  If you enjoy nostalgic things such as this, as I do, you can find more here.


I mentioned that my paternal grandmother was an excellent cook, but I think my mom may have surpassed her when it came to baking. Baking was my mom's specialty and the thing she enjoyed most and thankfully she passed down all of those recipes to me. But there is one recipe that in my book that is the best by far and surpasses anything else she ever baked, chocolate pie! I've shared the recipe with family and friends for years now, but like my mom, changed a few of the ingredients to give us an edge on flavor. But I've decided that I'm past all of that nonsense now, and today for the first time I'm posting the recipe as my mom and I make it. This recipe is so good that it deserves to be shared with the masses and enjoyed! If you like a rich, chocolate pie once you make this one you'll never look back, it is the absolute best!

2 c. sugar
2 c milk
3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. cocoa powder
5 eggs yolks (yes, you read that correctly, this is what makes it so good!)
1/4 c. oleo
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix first four ingredients in a large sauce pan. Add milk and mix until well blended.  Cook over medium heat until thickened.  Add a small amount to egg yolks and mix well, add egg yolks to mixture and cook until further thickened. Remove from heat and an add oleo and vanilla, blend well.  Fill a 9” baked pie shell that has been cooled. Once set, serve and enjoy! 

My mom always made meringue for this pie, but I have never cared for it, so I don't make it, but its certainly an option if you prefer it.


As far as Thanksgiving traditions, we almost always watch The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Since we don't have cable there have been a few years that we haven't been able to find it, but this year I'm considering paying $4.99 for a subscription to Peacock, which is a streaming app for NBC.  They do offer free content on their website, but to stream the parade live you have to have a premium subscription which starts at $4.99 a month, so that's what I'm opting to do. I'll probably cancel it as soon as the parade is over, because I have zero interest in anything else on main stream TV these days.

The other tradition we have is that we always have sausage balls for breakfast on Thanksgiving and Christmas morning. Everyone in our family loves them, and it makes for an easy morning for me. I typically make them up the night before and then pop them in the oven the next morning. So easy, and so good!  I've been making sausage balls for years, but a couple of years ago I stumbled upon Paula Deen's recipe, and I've found that its the best, especially with the dip, it's a game changer.

Some years, including this one, I've also served a Hash Brown Casserole using a Cracker Barrel copycat recipe.  I've tried a few over the years with varying results, but last year I happened upon this one and I think it comes to the closest to mimicking Cracker Barrel, so if that's something you crave, give this recipe a try!

And now my friends, we've come to the end of another lovely tea-time. I want to end this post by wishing you and yours a happy and blessed Thanksgiving day!  I've enjoyed spending time with you and hope you'll join me here again next week when our topics for conversation will be a few of my favorites, and I'm so looking forward to sharing with you!

 A Homemade Christmas * Oranges * Pleasant Pastimes

Remember everyone who participates will be entered in a drawing for a COZY WINTER WELLNESS KIT which I'll send out mid-January. You'll find all the details here.  

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."


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!

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.” 


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." 


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." 


Wednesday, November 17, 2021

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

Sunday, December 12, 2021
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)

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. 

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.

Joy To The World
Here's a pretty standard version for singing along, but I LOVE this one!
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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Tuesday Afternoon Tea - November 16, 2021

Good Tuesday afternoon, my friends! As you might have gathered already from the picture above, you should prepare to keep your expectations low this week, at least in the tea and treat department.

I mentioned in this post that last Thursday was my birthday, and it was indeed a perfectly lovely day. However, the next morning I awoke with the worst sore throat and earache that I have had in some time. I've had some sinus pressure for about a week, and my throat was even a little scratchy on my birthday. But I pushed through because all I really wanted for my birthday was Pappasitos, and since the nearest location is in Marietta, GA, 447.99 miles away, my only option was to try out the copycat recipes I'd come across and hope for the best! Thankfully they turned out incredibly good, probably not dead on, but close enough for this Texas girl.

Anyway, I think I pushed myself a little too hard on Thursday and didn't realize that my scratchy throat was trying to forewarn me. But it definitely got my attention Friday morning, and I knew immediately that my weekend was going to be spent primarily on the couch. So I loaded myself up with fire cider, sore throat tea, vitamin C, my new Snoopy blanket and some fresh batteries for the remote and entered into the world of Once Upon A Time. Kate and I had started rewatching it earlier that week, but now I'm, ahmmm . . . . an entire season ahead of her. Well, kind of, with the exception of the episodes I slept through. So we'll just back up to where she was and I'll watch them again. I'm sure since I wasn't feeling well I missed a lot. Also, in my defense, she kind of moved on to Gilmore Girls! I think she's watched it start to finish 4-5 times now, but I can let you in on a secret? I-JUST-CAN-NOT, and I'm hoping that surely I'm not the only one! I know a lot of women LOVE it, and if you do I hope this doesn't mean we can't be friends. But alas, I've tried (more than once), and something (several things actually), just get on my nerves. So if you're a Gilmore fan, my apologies, we'll have to find something else to bond over. :)

After being on the couch for two days, on Sunday Kate asked me to go run some errands with her and I thought getting out might do me some good, but . . . not so much. So back to the couch I went and finally yesterday morning the pain in my ear began to let up and I started feeling a little better. That being said, I am still not 100% and taking it easy, which FINALLY explains the reason for my treat of choice, Gingerbread Oreos. But guys, here's the deal. If you ever find yourself not wanting or able to bake your own Christmas cookies, buy a bag of these, NO ONE will complain! They are just that good, and those embossed images are pretty sweet, too! Even my teacup (pictured above) is a bit lacking this week, but this is just me raw and honest. This thermos has been my steady companion for several days, filled with warm honey lemon sore throat tea, and will most likely be close by for a couple of more days. 

But now that you know more about my weekend than you could possibly hope to, lets move to some cozier topics of conversation, shall we?

Thankful Hearts * Apples * Home Blessing


I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; 
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.


Even though I have been putting up our tree and other Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving for several years now, it certainly does not detract from the beauty of this holiday, in fact, I've always thought that the lovely light from the tree and other decorations only lends themselves to the enchantment of this special day. I love Thanksgiving precisely for its simple beauty. For the intentional pause in our lives, when we take time to reflect upon all that we have, right before our thoughts turn to all that we are lacking and hope to find under the Christmas tree, at least, if you allow it to be so.

For several years when the girls were small I made a "Thankful Tree" similar to this one. I would put it out on November 1 and have all the little leaves already cut out and, then one by one we would all think of things we were thankful for and write them on a leaf and tie it to the branch. By the time Thanksgiving Day rolled around, we had a tree filled with bright leaves full of blessings. It was a very special tradition and one I'll always cherish. You could do something similar on Thanksgiving day, especially if you have a large family gathering, and have your tree filled in time for dinner!

This year it will be just me and my daughter, and I am THANKFUL for that! And while I'm not making up a Thankful Tree this year, I've been considering other ideas and here are a few I've pinned.

- Gratitude Conversation Starters - these might make for some fun conversation during the day. We can just pull one out from time to time and each of us can answer the question.

and I also like this;

Family Gratitude Pumpkin - we didn't carve a pumpkin at Halloween and we have several. One or two of them are designated to become our centerpiece for our Thanksgiving table (more on that later.) But we could easily use the other to record the things we are thankful for!

I'm thankful for so many things this year, primarily to be home for the holidays. We were here for Christmas last year, but because of my health scare I don't think I truly enjoyed them as much as I am this year, and my health is something I am TRULY thankful for! And even though I miss my husband, especially during the holiday season, I am thankful that he has been given this opportunity to pursue his dreams and that our love is strong enough to span the time and miles so that I can pursue my dreams, as well, which are small in comparison to some. My only dream, ever, was to be a wife and mother and make a cozy, lovely home for my family, and I am thankful that the Lord has allowed me to do so.

I've kept a Gratitude Journal off and on for years, and one of my goals for 2022 is to make that a more consistent part of my daily life.  I've personally witnessed the benefits of focusing on all that one has to be grateful for and documenting it. If that's something that you're interested in, too, this 30 Day Gratitude Journal Challenge might be a good place to give you a jump-start!

"If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough."


And now, on to our next topic, which is . . . 


"Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness."


While an apple is something that you might associate more with early Autumn and September school days, it is a decidedly autumn fruit and not too far out of season! My grandmother always had an apple pie on the table at Thanksgiving, and served up warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream is one of my favorite treats! I've actually never made an apple pie (but its on my list of things to make someday!). But I have made an apple crisp several times, and the one I made this year was probably my best yet, and story behind it, even sweeter. You can read about it here, Mom's Hidden Recipe - Apple Crisp.

But when it comes to the holidays, one of the things that I love to make are dried orange and apple garlands. Typically we make ours with oranges, but I came across this garland recently, which combines both,  as well as pears, and I rather think I like it. 

Something I also enjoy this time of year are simmer pots, and apple cider and apples feature nicely when combined with spices like cinnamon,  ginger and allspice. Here's a recipe I've been making around this time for years now.

1 apple
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
3 to 5 star anise (I found mine in the Mexican Spice section at Food Lion, but I've seen them at Walmart, as well)
5 to 15 whole cloves 
1 tsp of apple pie spice
2 cups of apple cider or juice
2 cups of water

Place the apple juice and water in a sauce pan
Cut the apple into 4 pieces, you can leave the peel on them.
Add the apple and the remaining ingredients to the sauce pan and bring to a boil
Reduce to a simmer and let the smell wondeful scent fill your home!
You'll need to keep an eye on the liquic level and don’t let it get too low.  This can be refrigerated and used the next day or two. You can freshen the spices if it starts to lose some of the scent.

“I had also planned to stop at Herbert's Orchard and pick a basket of apples."
He could do apples. There was a small family store on-site that featured homemade fudge, pies, jams, jellies, and maple syrup, plus Maine-made crafts and gifts.
"Do you have a favorite apple?" he asked.
"Two favorites, actually. The Honeycrisp for sweetness and crunch, and the Ginger Gold, sliced with sharp cheddar cheese on salads. How about you?"
"Macintosh, all-around good. The best for pies, in my mom's opinion.” 

- KATE ANGELL, The Bakeshop at Pumpkin and Spice

And finally, let's move on to our last topic, and one of my favorites!

I've been reading Heather's blog for several years now, and have learned so much from her. Last year she launched her wonderful online community, Hearth and Home, and I'm thankful to have been a part of it from the beginning. It's just the loveliest little space, filled with all of Heather's cozy, homey goodness! I can't say enough good things about it! I'm not sure when she'll be opening up membership again, but I'll try to remember to keep you posted, because I just know you would love it!

But before Hearth and Home, Heather would regularly host online courses, and it was here that I first heard of a lovely weekly ritual that she established and referred to as Blessing The Weekend. The idea so resonated with me that I knew I had to put into practice immediately, and I did! I've even taken it a bit further and "Home Blessing" has now become the term I use for the daily tasks I perform to maintain and keep our home cozy, clean and inviting. I've written on this subject a couple of times, and rather than repeat that here, for now I'll just refer you to those posts.

- A Sabbatarian Rhythm - Blessing The Weekend - which includes a few free printable worksheets to help you establish your own ritual, if you desire.

and this post;

- The Weekly Home Blessing - which explains how I expanded upon this idea and have now made it a regular part of my day. Everything I do as an act of cleaning and keeping our home, I now view as  blessing my home.

This week, hopefully, my plan is to give our space here a little "extra blessing", if you will, in preparation for the upcoming holidays.  I'm proud to say that I keep a tidy home, but there are some things that need to be done, like taking things out of cabinets and giving them a wipe down, especially in the kitchen. It just makes everything so nice and clean as we begin our holiday cooking and baking, and gives me a chance to take inventory of anything I think we still might need. I've already bought most of the ingredients for our Thanksgiving meal, but there are a few things that always have to wait until the last minute to make sure they are fresh.

And now my friends, we've come to the end of another lovely tea-time, and while my tea and treat were a bit underwhelming, I promise that with all the holiday baking that is upcoming, I will more than make up for it! I've enjoyed spending time with you and hope you'll join me here again next week when our topics for conversation will be a few of my favorites, and I'm so looking forward to sharing with you!

Over the River: Thanksgiving Memories * Family Recipes * Traditions

Remember everyone who participates will be entered in a drawing for a COZY WINTER WELLNESS KIT which I'll send out mid-January. You'll find all the details here.  

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."


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!"


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!