Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas Bucket List 2017



I was inspired by my friend, Laura, at Harvest Lane Cottage, to create a Christmas bucket list. As she says...not a regular to do list, but a list of things that bring me joy. So...here goes!   


My Christmas 2017 Bucket List

1. Write my Christmas bucket list
2. Decorate the house inside and out
3. Work Christmas on the Farm at Watkins Woolen Mill
4. Put up the tree (or should I say "trees"...big one, little one, vintage one, and Jesse tree) ðŸŽ„
5. Find and purchase vintage ornaments for Mom's vintage tree
6. Spend family Christmas with all six of our children, their spouses, and the grands
7. Watch Christmas movies
8. Go caroling
9. Attend grandlittle's Christmas play and concert
10. Drive around and look at Christmas lights
11. Drink hot cocoa
12. Eat Christmas fudge
13. Celebrate Advent (wreath, candles, and devotional)
14. Send and receive Christmas cards
15. Wrap Christmas gifts 🎁
16. Have tea and lunch with my two oldest granddaughters (one of them is my granddaughter by birth, the other by default through friendship) 😉
17. Burn holiday scented candles 
18. Have breakfast at Mary's with my oldest daughter-in-law 
19. Make candy cane reindeer
20. Make a special treat and deliver it to the neighbors
21. Spend an evening with the cousins
22. Bake Christmas cookies ðŸª
23. Listen to Christmas music
24. Start a gingerbread man collection in my kitchen
25. Sip eggnog
26. Make Christmas cannoli
27. Drink wassail
28. Have Christmas Eve lasagna (it's been a tradition for nearly 30 years!)
29. Read the Christmas story from the Bible (Luke 2:1-20)
30. Spend Christmas Day at home with family and friends

That's what's on my Christmas 2017 bucket list. What's on yours? 

Until next time...

Monday, December 11, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday - December 11, 2017

Today I'm joining Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
and all the sweet ladies of 
Happy Homemaking Monday!
(Note: I have no idea what's going on with my font. I've worked and worked on trying to correct  it, but can't seem to get it. Just ignore any inconsistencies. Thanks! 😊)

Good Monday Afternoon, Sweet Ladies! 

Two weeks from today is Christmas Day! Can you believe it? The season is literally flying by!

We had a great time at family Christmas Saturday night. All six of our children and their families were there, as was a cousin and a couple of friends. The only one that wasn't able to make it was our oldest granddaughter who had a dance to attend that evening. She came by earlier in the day, though, so we were able to see her and give her her gifts then. The rest of the family had a nice visit in the evening. There was lots of good food, a gift exchange, and music. I think everyone had a really nice time. I know I did, anyway! And it was wonderful having our youngest daughter and son-in-law in town over the weekend! 😊

I went to the allergist in Springfield on Wednesday. Am still awaiting results and will share more about all of that in a later post when, hopefully, I will know more. I'm thankful though. Prayers are definitely being answered!

Enjoyed going caroling with our oldest daughter, her children, and their choir group at an area nursing home on Thursday. It was such a blessing to be able to stand back and observe the interaction that took place between the young ones and the old. Such joy! And very touching! 

Well...let's get started...shall we?

Right now I am...

Running behind. I had to take a friend grocery shopping this morning and have had one thing after another happen ever since I got home. Am hoping to get this post done and out this afternoon, then update and schedule a couple of others that I'm working on. Am also enjoying a piece of fudge and having a cup of hot tea.

On the breakfast plate...

I had breakfast at Subway this morning...ham, egg whites, and veggies on wheat flatbread and water.

The weather...

Temperatures dropped down into the teens and 20's last week, but now they've warmed back up and the ten-day forecast doesn't look too bad...daytime temps in the 40's and 50's and nights in the 30's and 40's most nights. Right now it's 58 degrees and cloudy. 

On my reading pile...

Am still right where I was last week. Progress has been slow, 
but I am continuing to make progress in all of them. 
This year's Advent devotional.
On the menu this week...

- Monday - leftover spaghetti and meatballs
- Tuesday - chicken w/ leftover rice and beans
- Wednesday - chili dogs
- Thursday - taco salad
- Friday - salmon, baked potatoes, and steamed broccoli
- Saturday - homemade pizza
- Sunday - leftovers


On my to do list....

- Monday - take a friend grocery shopping, plan week ahead, make lists, do weekly "home blessing"laundry
- Tuesday - pick up Mary Kay order, pick up library books, celebrate granddaughter's 3rd birthday, attend Christmas play and concert
- Wednesday - work on blog
- Thursday - celebrate husband's 64th birthday, finish Christmas shopping for dh
- Friday - work, solidify upcoming library program "Oh, Deer!"
- Saturday - work
- Sunday - church

In the craft basket...

Candy cane deer

Looking forward to this week...

Focusing on the Christmas season.

From the camera...

I've been waiting for frost flower weather and, finally, it happened! Sixteen people joined me early Thursday morning for an impromptu frost flower hike at Prairie State Park, and they were not disappointed!
For those that are wondering, frost flowers are neither frost, nor flower. The phenomena happens when the ground temperature is still warm enough to pump the sap of certain plants up through the stem, but the air temperature is below freezing. The sap freezes, splitting the stem, and squirting the frozen sap into swirls kind of like shaving cream out of a can. The result is delicate, frozen, ribbons of ice that are just beautiful! They don't last long. As soon as the temperatures warm up or the sun hits them they're gone. What a treat they are though and I so look forward to them each year!
Scripture passage...



Well, Ladies, that's it for this week. I pray that each and every one of you have a wonderful week ahead and that the Lord's blessings are many.

Until next time...
~Rebecca


Today I'm joining Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom and all the sweet ladies of Happy Homemaking Monday!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Italian Christmas Cookies

Italian Christmas Cookies
I made a batch of Italian Christmas Cookies this morning in preparation for family Christmas on Saturday. My husband's aunt used to make them when he was a child, but I had never made them until today. He said that they turned out well and I think they're pretty! 🎄

ITALIAN CHRISTMAS COOKIES

3 1/2 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. butter
1 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs and vanilla, then add dry ingredients. Knead. Pinch off 1-inch balls of dough, roll into logs, and twirl into shapes. Bake on greased cookie sheets at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

Icing:

2 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
6 tsp. water (add more 1 teaspoon at a time if icing is too thick)

Whisk until creamy. Dip cookies in icing and sprinkle with trim. Place on wire racks with wax paper below to catch drips.

As you can see, I forgot the wax paper. 😲

Until Next time...

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits - December 5, 2017


Vintage Ornaments on my Mother's Christmas Tree
Good morning, Sweet Ladies! Happy Tuesday!

Since the rest of the week is going to be crazy busy I'd thought I'd check in this morning and just touch base. 

I'm not sure what happened yesterday. I posted my usual Happy Homemaking Monday post early in the morning and, as far as I know, it never did go through to those who subscribe by e-mail. (I am hoping that this one goes through!) It does that every great once in a while and I don't know if it's on Blogger's end or on my end somewhere, but, whatever is causing it, it's a bit maddening. If anyone else is having trouble receiving the blog posts by e-mail, please, let me know so I can check into it further. 

Our youngest son and his family came over last night and we had a nice visit with them. While they were here we made a quick run around town to see the Christmas lights. There's not a lot of them, but what there is is really nice...especially the Engle family's display over on Gross Street. Every year they add new things to it and it's grown to be a couple or three blocks long now. This was the first time that I had seen it this year and it was very nice!

Vintage Ornaments on my Mother's Christmas Tree
I have posted a couple of pictures above of vintage ornaments on my mom's Christmas tree. My mom's been gone going on 13 years now and, after she passed away, my dad wouldn't have a Christmas tree up in the house. Dad passed away last year and, in December, I found Mom's tree and ornaments packed in a barrel in the shed. I got it out and put it up for the first time since she passed. 

In the ornament box I found two twisted aluminum icicles. When I was a child they were my favorite Christmas ornaments! My grandma (mom's mom) had ones from the 1940's on her tree and I remember when Mom bought a box of them in the 1960's for ours. I had begged for them and they were much cherished. I was surprised to find that two of them had survived all these years and, to be honest, if I hadn't seen them, I probably would never have remembered that they existed at all.

Anyway...here a while back I thought, "I wonder if there's any more of those out there somewhere? I'd love to have enough of them to really decorate Mom's tree." I did a search online and found several boxes of them, but only one that I could afford and that was on Etsy...so...I bought them!

They had been used, obviously (they had black thread attached to them as hangers) but were in nice condition and arrived in the original 1940's packaging. I recognized the Santa in the airplane, probably from my grandmother's box of them, and was thrilled to have them in my possession! 

Vintage 1940's Diamond Ray Jeweled Icicls
There were other boxes online that I recognized...newer than the ones I bought with Santa and his sleigh and team instead of the Santa in the airplane. I'm guessing that those are the ones that my mom purchased in the 1960's. 

I remember her buying them at Gamble's in Blue Springs. It sat at the corner of 40 Highway and 10th Street in a little strip-mall that used to be there. There was a bakery next door that sat on the very corner (I remember Grandpa buying me cream horns there), but I can't remember what sat on the other side of it. I can even see the couple that owned Gamble's. Her name was Betty and his was George. They had a fire in the 1970's and that was the end of Gamble's in Blue Springs. 

Oh, my! I sure didn't mean to get off into all of that. It all just came rolling back and so vividly! Wow!

Anyway...I'm thankful I found the ornaments. They really do dress Mom's little tree up and just seeing them hanging there makes me happy. They bring back so many fond childhood memories of past Christmases!

Tomorrow is when I go for allergy testing in Springfield. I will share more about all of this after we find out more and in a future post. In the meantime, I'm a little nervous about it, so prayers would be greatly appreciated. 

Well, I suppose I should get off here and fix lunch. You all have a great day and I'll talk to you again soon!

Until then...
~Rebecca

Recent posts that you might enjoy:

Happy Homemaking Monday - December 4, 2017


Rebecca's HEARTH AND HOME Newsletter - December 2017


Monday, December 4, 2017

Happy Homemaking Monday - December 4, 2017

Today I'm joining Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
and all the sweet ladies of 
Happy Homemaking Monday!

Note: This post includes affiliate links.


Good Morning, Sweet Ladies! Happy First Monday of December! 😊 

What a wild (or should I say boring) week last week turned out to be. Sick all week...didn't do much of anything...read...watched a few Christmas movies on Youtube and Amazon. Missed another day of work on Friday. Then, turned around Saturday and put in a 15-hour day at Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and Historic Site. Came home super tired, but feeling better than I had all week. Praise the Lord!

John and I went and did our shopping for family Christmas yesterday...well...most of it anyway. I think we still need to get something for the little bitty guys, but, other than that, I think we're done. (Now...this is just for family Christmas coming up on Saturday. There is still much to be done once we get beyond the 9th.)

Since I didn't do much this past week, there's really not a lot to share, so let's get right on with the week ahead...shall we? 


Right now I am...

Working on this blog post, enjoying the Christmas lights and garland twinkling and sparkling on the little tree in the corner, and listening to the wind moan as it whips around the corner of the house.

On the breakfast plate...

Hot tea, egg-white and cheese omelet with turkey sausage. (I cook the sausage patty first, then cut it up into little squares and add it right into the cooked omelet.) 

The weather...

The weather over the weekend was beautiful! Highs in the 60's and 70's...in DECEMBER! 😲BUT...all that's fixin' to change! Today's not supposed to be too bad...mid-60's for the high...windy, with the chances of thunderstorms increasing throughout the day, but, then...the bottom falls out. Highs in the 30's most days with lows in the teens and 20's. We might even see a little snow on Friday. (Yeah!!!!) ⛄

On my reading pile...

Am still reading in the same books as last week
and am making progress in all of them. 
We have also added Unwrapping the Names of Jesus Advent Devotional
by Asheritah Ciuciu as part of our Advent study this year.
The book reading is okay, but her choice of scripture readings
are fantastic. We just take it over to the KJV. 


On the menu this week...

I never did get around to filling last week's menu plan in. We just snacked and munched on whatever we wanted most of the week. I'm feeling better now and hope to get back on track with regular meals this week. Although, with family Christmas coming up this week, I don't know how "regular" meals will be, but we'll see! 

- Monday - Guatemalan red beans and rice
- Tuesday - turkey burgers and oven-baked sweet potato fries
- Wednesday - something simple...soup, salad, and sandwich or leftovers maybe
- Friday - salmon, baked potatoes, and steamed broccoli
- Saturday -  family Christmas (John and I are taking chicken chowder soup and Italian Christmas cookies; am excited to find out what the others end up bringing) 
- Sunday - leftovers

On my to do list....

- Monday - 
plan week ahead, make lists, do weekly "home blessing"laundry
- Tuesday - sort and wrap gifts, do as much prep work as possible ahead of time for Saturday
- Wednesday - go for allergy testing in Springfield (more about that later); finish last minute Christmas shopping for the grands
- Thursday - go caroling at nursing home with dd, grands, and their church group, bake cookies for Saturday
- Friday - work; company coming for the weekend
- Saturday - family Christmas
- Sunday - church

In the craft basket...

Nothing at the moment.

Looking forward to this week...

Spending time with our children, their spouses, and our grandchildren. 

From the camera...

Christmas on the Farm at Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and Historic Site was a huge success this year! The super nice weather is being credited for bringing out record numbers in attendance.

Visitors to the site walked from the visitor center down a long,
beautiful, and leaf-strewn lane to the Watkins home. 

Old-fashioned lamps lit the visitor's pathway
as they made their way to the house.

A long line of visitors kept forming outside the
Watkins home, as each person awaited their chance to
experience what Christmas was like in the mid-1800's.

The grand staircase leads to the master bedroom
 and a guest room on the second floor.

A view of the foyer below from the second-story landing.

The Christmas tree in the parlor. 🎄
One of the bedrooms on the second floor.
The dining-room table set for a fine Christmas feast. 
The dining-room table centerpiece consisted of
fresh fruit, greenery, and ribbons. 🍎🍊🍏

Father Christmas gifted each visitor with the traditional gift
of a fresh orange...a rare treat, indeed, in the 1850's. 🍊

Each visitor was treated to cookies that had been
baked in the oven of the on-site wood stove...

...as well as a cup of steaming hot wassail.

John and I in period clothing. My job was to hold a lantern
at the bottom of the stairs that lead up to the children's
bedrooms; his was to assist visitors moving them
through from the kitchen and out onto the back porch.


The biggest event of the evening is the lighting of the plum pudding. Here, our 
daughter, Amanda holds the pudding, while Luke (a volunteer from another state park)
 is chosen to light it. One plum pudding is lit every hour on the hour throughout 
the event. Amanda explains that in order to light correctly everything must be 
just right...the pudding has to be the right temperature, the brandy has to be 
right temperature, even the humidity comes into play. This night...four puddings 
were lit and every single one of them lit beautifully! Great job, Amanda! 😊


Scripture Passage...


Well, Ladies, that's it for this week. I pray that each and every one of you have a wonderful week ahead and that the Lord's blessings are many. 

Until next time...
~Rebecca

Today I'm joining Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom and all the sweet ladies of Happy Homemaking Monday!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Rebecca's HEARTH AND HOME Newsletter - December 2017


Greetings, Dear Ladies! HAPPY DECEMBER!

Back in January of 2017 I had the best of intentions in getting back on track with my monthly HEARTH and HOME newsletter, but, as most of you know, that didn't happen. I've put out a grand total of THREE issue, thus far. This issue will make the fourth of 2017. 

Now...that being said...four issues put out in 2017 compared to ZERO issues put out in 2016 isn't bad, but that's still a far cry from the days when I faithfully, and without fail, put out a new issues (or two!) each and every month.  Perhaps 2018 will show a marked improvement. We shall see! 

Oh well! Enough of that! On with the holiday at hand...CHRISTMAS! Grab a cup of tea and join me...won't you? 

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

HOUSEHOLD HINTS ðŸ 

* When stringing popcorn for garland, let it set for a couple of days to get stale. Stale popcorn is easier to string.

* Decide what table linens you will be using for Christmas and Scotchguard them now. It's a great fabric protector and spills will be easier to remove.

* For a pretty centerpiece put some vegetable oil on a rag and polish red and green apples. Place in a bowl and fill in the spaces with greenery.

* Go to your carpet store and ask for the cardboard cores that carpet comes on. Wrap them with white plastic trash bags and twist red ribbon around them. Viola! Instant giant peppermint sticks for outside decorating!

* For a fresh smelling bathroom during the holiday season, apply essential oils to the inside of your toilet paper rolls.

* When candles drip on your pretty tablecloths, fear not. Lay paper towels on the ironing board over and under the drips and iron the wax spots with a medium-to-hot iron. Keep moving the paper towels until the wax is absorbed into them. Presto! The wax is gone and the cloth is saved!

* Use leftover eggnog for French toast. Just add a little cinnamon and it works beautifully!

* Save used coffee grounds, tea leaves, and crushed egg shells and feed them to your poinsettias and other houseplants. They love the nutrients.

* Plan several baking days and put these on your calendar. Have at least one day with the children to make those special Christmas cookies and gingerbread men. Let it be fun for them. How proud they will be when they serve a plate of their own creations!


* Make holiday pancakes by lightly greasing heavy metal cookie cutters in the shape of Christmas trees, etc. and placing them on a hot, lightly greased griddle. Pour pancake batter (approximately 2 tablespoons) into each cutter. Using tongs remove cutters after 1 minute; cook pancakes two more minutes, then turn over and cook until done. Serve as usual. The children will love them! 

Simple Craft Idea
Use candy canes as dinner place card holders.

DOLLARS AND SENSE ðŸ’µ

* Don't toss odds and ends of veggies when you cook. Save those small bits of pepper, onion, and other vegetables to make vegetable stock or use in omelets.

* Preplan your holiday menus to avoid over-shopping.

* Don't toss gently used wrapping paper, tissue paper, and gift bags. Save, store, and reuse next year.

* After the holidays donate any unopened, non-perishable food items that weren't used (canned cranberry sauce, boxed stuffing, packages of gravy mix, etc.) to your local food bank.

* To avoid being haunted by the ghosts of Christmas credit past, use cash or debit card only. Using cash slows down your spending and forces you to weigh your purchases more carefully.

* If you do use a charge card, clip half an index card to the back of the credit card. Each time you use it, enter the amount of your purchase on the index card and keep a running total. That way you are continually aware of how much you will have to come up with when the bills start rolling in during January.

* Ensure that you will be able to do next year's buying in cash by estimating how much your Christmas spending will be, dividing that amount into 12 monthly allotments, and then setting aside that amount each month in a Christmas club, savings account, or by using Dave Ramsey's envelope system.

* Visit EveryDollar's "12 Budget Tips of Christmas" by clicking HERE. They've got some great ideas!


🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE 

These are two of my absolute favorite Christmas-story videos! Out of the mouths of babes! 😄

Christmas According to Kids - Southland Christian Church


The Christmas story as told by the children of St. Paul's Church, Aukland, New Zealand...



🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

RECIPES ðŸ²

HOLIDAY WASSAIL RECIPE

1 gallon apple cider
1 large can pineapple juice (unsweetened)
3/4 cup strong tea

In a cheesecloth sack put:

1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon whole allspice
2 sticks cinnmon

This is great cooked in a crockpot. Let it simmer slowly for four to six hours. You can add water if it evaporates too much. Your house will smell wonderful and friends and family will love it!

CHEESE SALMON BALL

1 7 3/4 ounce can salmon, drained and flaked
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated onion
1 teaspoon horseradish
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
chopped parsley

Combine all ingredients except parsley. Shape in to a ball. Roll ball in parsley. Serve with crackers.

CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI RING
 
(It's been a few years since I've made one, but this recipe has always been a favorite at family holiday gatherings.)

2 cans crescent rolls
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 to 1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups shredded Monterey cheese
1 can of chicken or 1 to 2 cups cooked chicken,
chopped

Leaving a 3-inch circle in the center, form a sun with crescent rolls on a pizza stone. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Place on rolls around the center. Tuck points of rolls over meat mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, or until rolls are brown.

BECKY'S SUGAR COOKIES
(This sugar cookie recipe is the best that I've ever tasted and it is the one that our family has used for generations. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my mother and I making these cookies to give and share with others at Christmas. Now my children and their children are carrying on the tradition.) 

1 c. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking powder
5 c. flour

Cream butter and sugar together. Add milk, baking powder, salt, eggs, and vanilla. Blend well. Add flour a little at a time until all the flour is mixed in. If dough is sticky, extra flour may be added. Being extra generous with the dusting flour, roll dough out about 1/4-inch thick and cut with cutters. Bake at 375 degrees until cookies are slightly browned on the bottom and are a little spongy on top. Ice with Wilton's Buttercream Icing (below).


WILTON'S BUTTERCREAM ICING

1/2 c. solid vegetable shortening
1/2 c. butter or margarine
4 cups powdered sugar
2 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cream butter and shortening with an electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add coloring if desired and beat until mixed evenly. Yield: 3 cups. 

TEDDY S'MORE BARK

2 pkg. (16 sq.) Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate
1 cup Teddy Grahams
1 cup miniature marshmallows

Microwave chocolate in microwavable bowl on HIGH for 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in 3/4 cup each of Teddy Grahams and marshmallows into bowl with chocolate. Spread on waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Decorate with remaining grahams and marshmallows. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Break into
pieces. Make 15 servings (4 1-inch pieces per serving)


Reindeer Crack
I made this last year for Christmas and it was a huge hit! Get
the recipe HERE
Well, Ladies, that's it for now! Here's wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Until next time...
~Rebecca

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