Hospitality, Friendship, Encouragement

Monday, December 31, 2018

On The Last Day Of The Year

Here we are at year's end.  Seems like the year just started, in some ways, and yet not.  Its been an interesting year for me.  Physical struggles with my back and leg, a new grandbaby and one on the way, starting a business.  We left the church we were a part of for 10 years, I did very badly on my eating plan, struggled at times with discouragement.  But God has kept me close, and been a friend and encourager to me.

I had the blessing of two trips this past year, one for our 30th anniversary last January, and one in late November to Texas.  

After needing a new bed for many years, I finally convinced Tim to upgrade to a king size.  We bought a Lucid mattress and really like it.  It took Tim a few days to adjust to it, but now he says his shoulder doesn't hurt anymore! Win!

I have felt like I didn't have direction for my blog this past year, and it doesn't surprise me, with the way I was feeling this past year.  But I do have direction for this coming year, and I look forward to it.

Thank you for being such good friends to me, I eagerly look forward to your comments, and your visits to my blog are highly appreciated.  

As we go into the New Year, I pray that you'll hold fast to Jesus, and walk in Grace.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:1-20

The Birth of Jesus

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 
2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 
3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 
5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 
6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 
7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 
11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 
12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 
14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 
17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 
18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 
19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 

20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday Five - Christmas Carols

I hope you are enjoying your Christmas preparations as much as I am.  We also are preparing for Tim's birthday (Christmas Eve), and the next week is Lindsay's birthday, and our anniversary.  

For this week's Five, I am sharing some of my favorite Carols and Songs of the season!  (also the videos are embedding in large format so if you are having trouble seeing the whole thing you should be able to double click the video and it will take you to the source.)

1. If you've been around my blog for a few years, you recognize this video, I share it every year.

2. I love this version of O Come, O Come Emmanuel by the Franz Family.

3. Wexford Carol - Yo Yo Ma and Alison Krauss  

4. All Is Well - Carrie Underwood and Michael W Smith

5. Noel - Lauren Daigle  

As you can tell I have very eclectic taste!  I guess its because I have teenagers in my home that I am exposed to current music as well as all my favorites!

I love so many songs that it was hard to pick just five.  I'm going to share one more favorite here as a bonus - Highland Cathedral from Amy Grant's album A Christmas To Remember.


Thursday, December 20, 2018

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Holiday Diffusing Blends

I've pinned a ton of diffuser blends on my essential oils Pinterest board.

I love using oils in a variety of ways.  I have two diffusers for the living room/kitchen space, since it is so big.

I diffused this one yesterday, and I must say it was really lovely.

This one is nice, too.

I've been doing various blends on my own with clove, orange, cinnamon, but here is a blend with amounts of drops to use for each oil.
Holiday diffuser blend smells so good!

This one is nice, and since Frankincense was one of the gifts of the three kings who came to worship Jesus, I thought it would be appropriate for the season!

Energising - Essential Oil Diffuser Blend

With fewer hours of sunlight, this time of year, we are in cold and flu season. We also have cold weather so we don't have doors and windows open.  I like to diffuse this blend to clear the air in our house.

 It smells great!

And if you do get a cold, I swear by this congestion blend.  My skeptical husband is a believer in the fact that it shortens a cold and helps you feel better fast.  Last winter Sarah got sick with a bad cold that came on fast.  She was resting on the couch, so I made this blend and put it by her.  She fell asleep for a few hours and when she woke up, she was feeling much better.

Also, if you or someone you know, is coughing and can't rest - using Eucalyptus on their feet (I rub 5-10 drops) helps quiet a cough almost immediately.  We've had great success with it, and have slept through the night in spite of a cough.

Do you use essential oils?  I love using products in my home that are not toxic, and that smell great, help with illness, or help avoid it.  What about you?

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Christmas Fun

We've been having fun, preparing for Christmas.

Last Thursday while Emma and Family were still here, we made sugar cookies with the kids.

The recipe is easy and delicious and you can find it here.  The frosting recipe is good too, and was just right for an underlayer for sugar sprinkles or just by itself.

Sunday afternoon we went to our friends' Christmas party, and participated in an ugly sweater contest.
I won!  When I saw this in Goodwill I knew victory was mine!

We went to see the Christmas lights again last night!  We took Rachel's boyfriend Weston and had a fun time.  Donuts, coffee, music and lights all make for a great evening.

I've been trying Christmas diffuser blends this month and tomorrow I'll post which are my favorites!

One week until Christmas Day!

Friday, December 14, 2018

A Special Evening At The Theatre

Thanks to a good friend, we were able to attend the show "Jesus" at Sight and Sound Theatres last evening.

This show has been sold out most of the year, which is amazing, and because of that it will play all next year, too.

It was really an incredible show, the special effects are stunning - the storm on the sea, and walking on the water, especially.  So heartbreaking to see the hatred the religious leaders had for Jesus, the loss felt by his disciples, but the joy of the resurrection!

We were happy to be able to include my parents and Emma and Vinnie.

We got a 'groupie' with my parents as we were leaving last night.

We are grateful for these special times we can have together, and especially this show, as we prepare to celebrate Christ's coming into the world to redeem us.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Stockings Were Hung...

On my antique chippy ladder, as I do every year!  They are right behind the front door, in a little alcove made by the coat closet.  Its a spot where no other furniture can go, but the ladder fits there just fine, and it is part of the living room.

These are the stockings of the people who will be here Christmas Eve.  Our tradition is to open stockings together in the evening of Christmas Eve. (earlier in the day we are celebrating Tim's birthday)  We always have food to munch, and we either watch a movie or play games, sometimes both.

On Christmas morning, my parents will come over to open presents with us, and the married kids will usually come by later in the day, at least for a while.

Christmas is no stress here.  We are savoring the day, thankful for the gift of our Savior, Jesus.  We eat a lot, read, listen to music, play games, have company drop by.  If the weather is nice, people might go for a hike.

What are your traditions for Christmas Eve?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Colored Lights

 Kyle is a fan of colored lights.  He's always had them on his little tree in his room.  This year he mentioned he wanted to hang lights all over his room, so that's what we did!

I bought the white stringed lights, because of his ceiling being white.  It looks like candy all over his ceiling!

He came up with the pattern and we used command strips to put them up.  

His room is the only room in the house with colored lights.  Its fun and cheery.  But I still prefer white lights for my decor!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

How We Do Christmas Gift Giving

This year the whole family has decided that we've grown too large to buy individual gifts for everyone, and so we've drawn names for everyone Kyle's age and up.

We'd talked about it for several years, but Tim and I resisted because several of the 'kids' in our home would have needed us to buy their gifts to give to others, and so everyone would have one gift to buy and we'd have had to buy 4-5.  But now this year, everyone has an income source and are fully on board with buying their person a gift.

So, everyone from my Dad down to Kyle, drew names and we are all on the hunt for gifts for our person. Tim and I will buy for the kids still in our home, our grands, and each other.  I think all the families in our family will do the same.

I also follow this guide when giving gifts - 
Perfect for making sure kids make a realistic Christmas list!! Doing this this year and adding one more "Something I'll Give". Will teach children to think of others at Christmas and how they might serve others in giving. Will recreate this in a cute "Santa's List" format!

I also add "something to eat" as everyone here has a favorite candy, and these usually go into their stockings.  Also sometimes these things combine.  This year for example, there is a book Kyle wants as it is the next book in a favorite series, and so 'want and read' are combined this year.

My motto for years, that I've taught the kids, is to not just buy 'something' for the person.  Buy something that is thoughtful of the person you're buying for, and if you do that, you can buy something at a thrift store or yard sale and it will be that persons' best gift!  Nate and Kay followed this one year buying Sarah a certain glass that had been an inexpensive thing from McDonald's years ago that was tied into a favorite film series (books too!).  They paid a few dollars and wrapped it up for her.  On Christmas morning, she squealed with delight and used it for years until it broke.  (a happy thing is right before her birthday last year, she and I were looking around an antique store we'd never been in before, and we found her glass and the three others that were a part of a collectable set, for $12.  She was reluctant to have me buy it, but she really wanted them.  She felt better when I reminded her it could be a part of her birthday gifts!

I guess the moral of that story is that if you know the person your buying for you don't have to spend a lot to give JOY!  I've spent a lot of time knitting this fall for gift giving this year.  So far the gifts I've given have been received happily.  

Maybe you think you aren't able to make anything, but homemade hot cocoa mixes in jars, cookies or the dry ingredients for cookies in a canning jar, or breads, make wonderful gifts.  So do thoughtful gifts from the Dollar Tree or the Dollar Spot at Target.  Last year I bought a three dollar placemat from Target and using some batting and a plaid piece of fabric I already had, I made a cute Christmas pillow.  It was straightline sewing and easy as all the fabric already had finished seams.

My family like accessories like scarves and gloves, so I keep my eye out for sales on these items.  Many times stores like Old Navy practically give these things away!  And if you shop online sales with them, you can always ship to the store and pick it up! I scored nice flannel blanket scarves recently for $8 dollars each!  But shhh, don't tell! 

This has gotten long, but I really wanted to encourage you in your gift giving.  I love giving gifts to people!  Tell me what your gift giving traditions are in the comments and we'll chat!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Family Weekend

Rachel arrived home Friday afternoon, and Emma and Vinnie arrived Saturday evening, with Isla and Clark.  We gathered at my Mom's house yesterday to do our annual family photos.  These are getting harder to do, but I love the results!

 Kamryn is the oldest of the cousins and loved holding Clark and playing with Isla.

 Kyle enjoyed Clark, too!  

 Lindsay sent me this photo and I love it.  You can't tell but Rachel's legs are over on Sarah and Kyle and Kamryn are sitting on them, Isla was over having pictures taken, but did just fine.  I'm so proud of this bunch of young adults and little ones.  Amazing that these were the babies that God gave to Tim and I to raise!  Now they are beginning to raise their own babies.

I know this photo is blurry but it was so cute of Clark grinning at Grandpa!

Here is a video...

 I got to hold him while he went to sleep last night.  He is 6 months old now and we hadn't seen him in person since he was a week old!

Isla really liked the bouncy horse that we've had since Sarah was a baby.  Its still in great shape amazingly!

Our week looks mostly like this.  Visiting, playing, eating.  Those of us who have not seen the latest show, Jesus, at Sight and Sound theaters, are going later this week.  I'm very excited as I've heard its excellent!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Friday Five

I thought, for my Friday Five, that I'd show you some of my Christmas decor.  I keep it pretty simple with greens and plaids, mostly.

1. Plaid Thermos - I added my thrift store plaid thermos to the coffee/tea station in the kitchen.  Along with the English Ivy, I think it adds a festive touch.

2. Plate Rack - My plate rack is over in the corner by the sliding French doors and doesn't get a lot of attention.  I cheered it up with a cute plate and some fir branch from our Christmas tree.

3. Plate Wall - I added my Peace on Earth plate.  I have a few more plates to add to the lower left side.

4. Snack Jars - I added a cute plaid ribbon to the animal cracker jar and it makes this space very festive!

5. Simple Old Fashioned Sign - The sign and the sweet cardinal, make this old clock and book stack ready for Christmas!

Christmas decor doesn't have to be elaborate to be cheery and help make the season bright.  Simple garlands, lights, and plaid suit our sweet cottage, and make the everyday feel extraordinary!

Rachel comes home today, and Emma and Vinnie arrive tomorrow!  We'll be celebrating all this next week!  Also, my sweet homeschool moms will be coming for a fun Christmas party tonight!

Rejoice for the Light has come!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Christmas Tree 2018

If its Wednesday, and it is, the grandgirlies are here!  There are obvious signs, as you can see...

I cut strips of plaid paper last night and started a paper chain.  Kamryn is going to work on it later for an art project, and we are going to make some cookies.  I like to have things for them to do when they are here.  Otherwise chaos ensues. (grin)

As promised. here is my Christmas tree.  This was taken Monday night, and the ribbon needed to be tweaked.  I was so pleased though that Sarah and Kyle both helped with the tree this year.

This is from this morning.  I added a bit more ribbon and tucked it in here and there!  Its perfect now!

I did a lot more decorating yesterday, and hope to get it finished in the next few days.  Then photos.  

Tomorrow things really pick up in activity.  Ice skating with our co-op in the morning, our annual Christmas dinner for the business, Friday Rachel arrives home and in the evening I'm hosting the co-op moms for a party.  We are exchanging crazy Christmas socks!  Its going to be really fun!  Emma and Vinnie and kids arrive in town on Saturday for a week of fun, too!

It sounds like it will be hectic, but it won't.  I work to keep things simple, and keep source of the season as the focus.  Comfort and Joy in our Savior, in our family and gatherings with friends.  Simple foods, some treats, and a warm welcome are all that's needed to celebrate.

The Light has come, what better reason to rejoice?!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

San Antonio River Walk and More

Our Girls Road Trip was so fun, as you can imagine.  After eating at Chuy's and staying the night in Austin, we drove to the capitol building.  Unfortunately the gates were all closed and we couldn't get closer than this photo shows.

We took the long way on the Hill Country Trail and saw beautiful live oaks and amazing vistas.  We had lunch and did some shopping in Gruene (pronounced Green).  This building is famous as it is historical and George Strait used to play here with his band, and its where he was discovered!  

We enjoyed a great lunch at the Gristmill!  Outdoor dining in November?  Yes, please!

A narrated ride on the River Walk in San Antonio was a highlight of the trip for me.  

So much beauty.  Our hotel lobby was beautiful, too!

The next day we visited the Alamo.  It is full of inspiration also.

 No Texas road trip is complete without a trip to James Avery!

 Then lunch at the Alamo Cafe!  Delicious homemade tortillas and queso!

We arrived back from our road trip Thursday night, and Friday morning I met up with Linda from Linda's Life Journal and her daughter Summer!  They were headed to Galveston and I am so happy we were able to make it work to meet!

They are delightful women, fun and joyous.  The waitress said to us, "I don't know what your laughing about, but its making me laugh just to hear you."  Linda and Summer, thank you for the gift of your time!

When I got back from breakfast, my friend Amy shot Sarah's senior pictures!  

They turned out so great, and I'll give you a peak at what she was shooting here.

This concludes my posts about our trip to Texas.  It was wonderful.  Yesterday, the kids and I got a tree and it is decorated.  I'll show you tomorrow!


  This lovely Calathea that I bought in Nashville last month is doing well in my living room. It does need to be repotted, and I think I'...