Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Is There Anything Better Than Cinnamon?

For quite a few years now I've been making gingerbread ornaments for our family room tree. They keep their scent for a couple of years and they're so easy to make!
There are only two ingredients to buy. The recipe is simple because the ratio is 1 to 1.....1 cup of cinnamon 1 cup of applesauce. Easy peasy. You can make as many or as few as you want. This year I made the recipe using 3 cups of cinnamon and 3 cups of applesauce and I wound up with 28. I found that my little guys from last year were still very fragrant and only a handful of the them were I needed only a few for the tree this year.
Mix the two ingredients together just as you would for cookie dough . Remember, these aren't won't hurt you obviously to eat them, but they don't taste very good because there's not enough sugar in the applesauce. Mix well. It will probably seem a little sticky to you so before you go to the next step.........and this is the fun part.............
powder your hands with cinnamon.
Turn the dough out onto a cinnamon-dusted cutting board or sheet. Pat out to about a third-inch thickness.
Using a gingerbread man cookie cutter cut out each ornament and place carefully on a sheet of waxed paper.
When you're finished cutting them out, take a big fat pencil eraser and poke a hole in the head. This is so that when they're dry you can take a length of red or green ribbon ( about an inch and a half piece) and make a loop for them to hang from.
Here they are on my kitchen counter where they'll stay for the next 3 days to dry. Give them at least that long to in Phoenix with our dry air it takes about that long. In other more humid climates it may take a day or two longer.
The finished product. These little guys are from last year. When Christmas is over I usually keep them in a tin or box cushioned with tissue paper and they will be ready for next year.
Believe me.......any room you hang these in will smell heavenly! So Christmasy!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thursday is Errand Day

Doesn't the phrase "errand day" sound quaint? It does, and I love it. It's reminiscent of earlier times when things seemed simpler, somehow easier. Now I realize that not everything was perfect "back then", whenever "back then" was, but many things actually were done in a more efficient manner.....and one of these things is setting aside specific days of the week to do specific things. It gives a purpose to each day.
I've found I have less stress during the week when I know basically what I'll be doing on certain days. I save money on groceries because I've taken the time to plan out menus and grocery lists earlier in the week ( on what I call my "office day", but that's another post). And I certainly save on gas when I take things to the cleaners, mail a package, or return a book to a friend all in the same trip.

Thursday works for me as errand day for a number of reasons, but everybody is different. Taking the time to plan out your week, deciding which days work best for the things in your life, can be a very liberating thing. I know some people don't like the idea of any kind of schedule because they view schedules as too restrictive or limiting. Believe me I'm the kind of person who loves to do things on the spur of the moment, who will sometimes drop everything I have planned to do when something I deem more important or even " more fun"comes up. If a friend I haven't seen for awhile comes to town and wants to have lunch I certainly wouldn't miss that opportunity just to keep on schedule and go to the grocery store. Life happens. Fun happens.

I don't think we should ever be a slave to a schedule.

But that being said, it's always reassuring that I can get back to some sort of order. Everything in my life works better when I do, and not surprisingly I have more time for everything and everybody in my life.
So while December is one of those months that is full of all kinds of things that don't seem to fall into any schedule or category, having some kind of framework for your week can actually help get all these "extras" done. So I'm off.....

.......and by the way, while I actually adore the way the woman is dressed in the above photo......I won't be dressed that way. I have on black velour slacks and a red sweater with black flats (with a little bling across the toe) for comfort! Rather stylish but in a much different way. The photo brings back memories of some of my Mom's outfits in the 60's......that's probably why I love it so much!

Monday, December 1, 2008

His Mercies Are New Every Morning

The first day of December already! If you're like me you have SO many things you want to do in the next few weeks and wouldn't you know it , time-wise this seems to be the shortest month. Have you ever heard the saying, "the hurrier I go the behinder I get"? That certainly describes my December-self most years. Add to that those unexpected stresses and strains that come up in all of our lives from time to time, and you can have the recipe for a less than Merry Christmas.

Still, I love this time of year. I want to enjoy myself and I want to make it special for everyone in my life. But how do I do that if I'm worn out from just thinking about what needs to be done? It's exhilarating , it can be a lot of fun, but let's face it it's also a lot of work.

Isn't our God so good to us though? As I woke up this morning the first words that came to me were the words "his mercies are new every morning". These words kept going over and over in my mind. The old hymn "Great is Thy Faithfulness" states it so beautifully....."morning by morning new mercies I see". His thoughts are new about me every morning. His plans are good for me every morning of my life. His love for me is renewed every morning. How can I not be excited to start every day with Him?
So bring on December! As I give each day to Him He gives me so much more.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I Have My Very Own Chimney Sweeps

Obviously they're not chimney sweeps by trade, but Jim and Christopher will tackle just about anything. Since it's always a good idea to clean your chimney before you light your first fire of the year, they climb up on the roof and go at it.
Why is it that guys like to get up on the roof? I'm glad, but I don't really understand it. Remember Dick Van Dyke, the Cockney chimney sweep in "Mary Poppins"? I tell them they're that good.......minus the singing and dancing! So far there's been no dancing on the roof.
Thanks guys! Now let's put some put some logs in the fireplace....... it's the day after Thanksgiving...............let the Christmas decorating begin.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Jack's Days are Numbered..........He'll Soon be Going Back to the Attic!

It's always kind of sad, but after sitting on our porch swing from September 1st until Thanksgiving, our family scarecrow Jack has to return to the attic for another 9 months of relaxation. Actually we aren't always sure what he does up there all year when we're not watching. The two youngest ones in our family, the two 5 year olds, are pretty sure he can talk......and they're convinced they've seen him move.

I made him when my youngest son Christopher was in Kindergarten ( and he's 19 now!) So Jack has been in the family for awhile now.

He loves to travel around town........over the years he's been to parties, hayrides, and presided over Harvest Carnivals. He's had his picture taken with young and old. He's quite a social fellow.....never met anyone he didn't like.....or anyone who didn't like him. If he had a Facebook page he'd be the guy with all the friends!

While there's a video tape floating around somewhere of him dancing with several lovely young ladies here in Phoenix, his favorite date has always been my Mom. Here they are a few years back at a church party. He was her constant companion on a 1998 hayride when she was trying to ignore the unwanted attentions of a much older gentleman who shall remain nameless. He finally got the hint.....Jack had saved the day. He's really quite the ladies man.

But at heart he's a real family he is with grandaughters Kylie, Kenedee, and Christian a couple of years ago.

This year, just like every other year, nobody wants to say goodbye.........a quick kiss from the aforementioned 5 year olds........grandaughters Fiona and Kenedee. Love ya, Jack.