December 30, 2010

time in the Big Apple

Christmas break has included some serious down time for this Mama {a much appreciated gift of time from my spouse!}....

So I journeyed upstate a bit to visit my sister in the big city of New York, taking in some rest and relaxation and the sites of bustling life in a metropolitan area.  

~ cooped up for a morning in her apartment, I enjoyed the treats this gracious sibling of mine provided!

~ hot tea and good books, a great combination

~ perusing through her many cookbooks!

 ~ naturally there were many options of international food, Peruvian and Cuban were our cuisines of choice.

A relaxing set of days!


December 21, 2010

the beauty of Christmas

There are some who are cynical about this season,

pointing fingers and questioning the generosity of others :: wondering if it's temporary or if after the tinsel a giving spirit will continue.

Yes, it's true.  Some may forget and in the next 11 months choose to withhold funds, time, or focus from those in need.

I am more encouraged however by those who have chosen to participate now and for whom this is a lifestyle.  Stories of how families and individuals are reaching out have so blessed me in the last few weeks! 

Some are making commitments of finances, supporting with currency.

Others I see volunteering and stretching their time budget further.

Still others are carving out space in their hearts and homes for hospitality, renewed to give afresh in this way.

All distrubuting kindness, hope, love and encouragement to another.  And I pause to praise.  Truly this is how our Lord intended it to be?

In the rest of this week...

...and in the weeks beyond, be encouraged.  Watch for displays of giving, and rejoice!

photo credit

December 17, 2010

fun for the season :: homemade for teachers

If there's anyone who deserves some holiday cheer & appreciation, it's the many teachers, coaches, helpers, etc. who work with children throughout the year!  Hats off to these amazing individuals who pour their hearts out and somehow wrangle an often large group into learning; whether it be math, language, dance, music or another pursuit.

While we base our educational studies from home, our children are involved in various activities or classes during the week.  We decided this year to make a brown sugar body scrub as gifts, seeing that most of these teachers are women!  A quick & easy (and delicious smelling) project.

The cast of characters:

Brown Sugar Body Scrub
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup fine sea salt
1/2 to 1 ounce oil (sunflower, almond are good choices)
1/2 TBsp kaolin or white china clay (we ordered ours from Mountain Rose Herbs)
1/2 TBsp honey
2 drops of essential oil (we used lavender)

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and spoon into a jar.  Oil will settle on top, just stir before use.  To use, gently massage scrub in circular motions over body and then rinse with warm water.  Do not use on the face.  Makes 4 oz.

Our containers were bought off eBay several years ago :: just plastic 4 oz containers.  Mountain Rose carries a variety of jars and such as well as crafters on Etsy (which, if you haven't been here...grab a cup of coffee or tea and visit a while)!

A simple label with a Christmas sticker and instructions from the recipe above completed our gifts.  We then used tissue paper, some sprinkles of shredded paper and a bit of gold cord to wrap up these treats!

Simple, quick and not too difficult for even the youngest of gift givers!



December 15, 2010

easy peasy pie crust 'cookies'

True confessions are in order today.  Deep breath...inhale...exhale...okay, here we go:

I really do not enjoy baking cookies.

Yes, yes, I find the art of cooking in general to be a solace; and muffins, breads and the like are at the top of my baking list.  But cookies?  Not so much.  Only if I'm truly inspired.

With the holidays of course comes the expectation that whipping up these delectable treats takes priority on the to-do list.  There are plans next week for gingerbread cookies as this endevour succeeded last year. 

But until then, I've discovered an idea to keep my children happy (taming the Mom, when are we going to bake cookies!? question) and to keep me sane and happy as well.  Which is on the top of the priority list around here.  Want to know my secret?

Pie Crust.

To be more precise :: make 'cookies' out of pie crust.

And I'm not even talking about homemade.  Just the plain old two-per-package, rolled-up, store-bought pie crust.  I bring them to room temperature, let the kiddos unroll and break out the cookie cutters. 

I can almost hear the Hallelujah chorus being sung.  Seriously.  This idea is such a winner around here!

Easy Peasy.

After cutting out shapes, brush the 'cookies' with some melted butter.....

Sprinkle on some cinnamon sugar or plain sugar.  We used vanilla bean cane sugar (a delicious gift from upstate, thanks Grandad!)......

Bake at 425 degrees for 12-14 minutes and...

...voila!  Cookies! (sort of).

We eat these with ice cream or sherbert, but think of the possibilities!
  • top a pie crust cookie with fruit salad and drizzle with maple syrup
  • drizzle with melted white, dark or milk chocolate
  • add warm pie filling on top and add whipped cream

Yum!  Best of all, my children are satisfied until our real cookie baking session!  Yes.



December 13, 2010

fun for the season :: popcorn & cranberry garland


As usual, there’s a need for me to prioritize the many ideas I had for crafts & projects this Christmas!  Naturally, the ratio of little ones to Mama definitely determines what those projects will be.  Ahem.  Additionally this year, our geography curriculum calls for many cultural celebrations of the Christmas season.


We have lots of plans, but they are not too complicated (at least I hope not)!

Cranberry and popcorn garlands were simple enough.  I heard that day-old popcorn works better than freshly popped (which we used) as it’s a little stiffer.  We also chose dental floss as a stronger & easier to work with alternative to thread.  For younger children, a tapestry needle is bigger and more blunt…and hopefully lessens the chance of pricking fingers!


An easy project and treat for the birds!


December 10, 2010

watch for the light today


“What we are in fact celebrating is the awe-inspiring humility of God,

and no amount of familiarity with the trappings of Christmas should ever blind us

to it’s quiet but explosive significance…”

excerpt from Watch for the Light :: Readings for Advent and Christmas


Today, choose beyond the glitter of the temporary

to view the eternal.

Emmanuel, God with us,

has COME.


photo credit




December 7, 2010

give the gift of change

In this season there are many appeals for giving….

to various organizations and ministries, both local and abroad. Not wanting to overload that message, but also wanting to pause and encourage, today I offer two organizations our family participates in at this time of year. Places where we can make a difference in the daily lifestyles of others.

World Vision Gift Catalog :: from clean water to medical care, assistance for educational needs to goats, chickens and cows, World Vision's commitment is to provide for those in need.  Gifts to children in the USA or abroad, to families, individuals or communities...there are many options for any budget!

Gospel for Asia's Gift Catalog :: join with other families or church community to send a camel or water buffalo (or rabbits, lambs, etc) to a location where it would be fitting and quite helpful to own such an animal.  There are also options for sponsorship of missionaries or of individual children.


Whether locally or internationally...

...through your congregation or as a family

...consider giving a gift of change for another.

December 1, 2010

remembering Thanksgiving

The day and weekend flew by so quickly and now the season of Advent & Christmas celebrations are upon us.

But, I want to pause this all for a moment and remember….

and be grateful once again for the gathering of family (both sides visited our home last week!), for the grace of our Lord and for the freedom to mark such a day.


A full heart sings with gratitude!

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