Thursday, December 7, 2023

It's Beginning to Look and Feel Like Christmas

My hubby put up the outdoor Christmas lights...

I went shopping for new Christmas tree ornaments.  We're changing it up this year from burgundy and gold to red and green.  Hubby wanted multi-colored lights instead of red and green, so I compromised after he already bought them and had half of them on the tree while I was gone!

The first step last night was fluffing the tree branches after they were crammed in a storage box for a year.  I couldn't convince hubby to let me downsize from a 9 ft. tree to something a little shorter.  I will post pics again when the tree is fully decorated.

Today was a fun day meeting six girls I went to high school with for a Christmas lunch.

I came home with lots of goodies.  One gal baked an assortment of cookies for us and her daughter made the cross stitch ornament.  Another gal gave each of us tin of yummy homemade caramel corn [which I'm munching on as I type] and an ornament that says "Your Friendship is a Blessing."  Other gifts included a Christmas mug of candy and a box of Godiva Chocolates.

One of the gals just learned that her husband has lung cancer and they're awaiting word whether it's stage 3 or 4 and if it's anywhere else in his body.  We've all put both of them on our prayer lists. I was reminded of the phrase, 'Life is fragile, handle with prayer.'

When I got home I made the third batch of cookies for tomorrow night's cookie swap.  One more to go!

18 days 'til Christmas... just sayin'!

Monday, December 4, 2023

Nativity Christmas Story Trail Mix

I was browsing the Internet for a brief devotional for the Ladies' Christmas Cookie Swap at my church this Friday night when I came across a Nativity Christmas Story Trail Mix at  The Trail Mix ingredients and scriptures that accompany them are downloadable on a Christmassy card for free at the website.

I decided to use it at the cookie swap by displaying a jar at each table as a sample for the ladies to see.  They make a nice hostess gift during the holidays or a small gift for friends, neighbors, or a shut-in you don't exchange gifts with. They're also a great way of witnessing to non-believers about the true meaning of Christmas in a non-threatening way.  I have a hair appointment tomorrow and am taking one to my beautician, and on Thursday I'm having lunch with six of my high school girlfriends and will give a jar to each of them.

Below is what my dining table looked like after I shopped for all the supplies today.  It was quite an endeavor and took most of the day.

I bought the 16 oz. Ball canning jars at Walmart [12 for $12.97]  I also got the Hershey Hugs, caramel popcorn, miniature marshmallows, miniature pretzel twists, and honey roasted almonds there too.  I don't particularly care for dates so I left them out.  ;-)

The Buffalo Check fabric [1/2 yard] and jute string came from Hobby Lobby.  I went to eight different stores searching for mini 3 Musketeers candy bars and called a few more candy stores when I got home, but had no success.  Amazon had them but they wouldn't arrive by Friday, so I had to use the fun size 3 Musketeers instead.  Since they're larger, only one will fit in the jar.  I used Hershey gold nuggets for the gold wrapped chocolates.  The chocolate stars came from Dollar General and were another item I had to search for.  Whatever happened to bagged Brach's candy in stores? 

The trick is not to eat the supplies while assembling the jars!  Below is what the front of the jar looks like after it's assembled.

View from the back.  The ingredients are layered in the order printed on the card.

The next thing on the agenda is to make my four dozen cookies, but that's a project for another day.  I'll be sure to post pictures of the Cookie Swap afterwards.

Upton Tea Imports had a recipe for Milk Tea Magic that came through my Facebook feed today:  Steep 2-3 teaspoons of black tea leaves in boiling water for 8-10 minutes.  Remove leaves and stir in a large dollop of sweetened condensed milk.  Enjoy it hot, or let cool and pour over ice.

Numi Organic Tea had a yummy looking tea latte that came through my Facebook feed today also, but they didn't provide any measurements/quantities.  It's made with their drinking chocolate [a new product], Numi aged Earl Grey tea bag, one candy cane and frothed Trader Joe's Coconut Almond Vanilla Cream.  The video looks like the drinking chocolate is put on the bottom of the cup [a tablespoon??], topped with the candy cane and tea bag.  Then hot water is added, and the top ingredient is frothed milk.  It sounds similar to a London Fog tea beverage.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

1st Sunday of Advent

Today is the first Sunday of Advent and the candle of Hope was lit.  The hope referred to isn't the world's definition - a fleeting or baseless desire for a certain thing to happen, or an emoji with fingers crossed.  It's the Biblical definition - the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength is in His faithfulness.  True hope comes from God, the Creator of all things including hope.  He is the source.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13

In difficult and uncertain times it can be hard to look beyond current events.  But "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord,"  Jeremiah 17:17

The word hope occurs 130 times in 121 verses of the King James Bible, so it's an important word for Christians. 

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."  Hebrews 6:19   As believers, hope is the anchor that holds secure because it is fastened to the unchanging, reliable character of God.

As the sermon was given, I was reminded of the old hymn, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness... On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand."

God bless you this Advent Season as we commemorate Christ's first advent when he came to earth as a baby, and as we look forward to His second advent when He returns to gather His church!  

Friday, December 1, 2023

In Tribute

This has been a somber week as former First Lady Rosalynn Carter was memorialized before being laid to rest.  The trait that stood out above all others in her eulogies was her service to others. God granted her a long and full life which she lived responsibly, and she will receive Heavenly rewards. The quote, "One life 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last" came to my mind.

As a tea lover, the phrase 'you can learn a lot about a person over tea', prompted me to do a quick research about Mrs. Carter and tea.

A New York Times article [Nov. 23, 1976] wrote about the tea she had at the White House with Betty Ford [they shared a unique friendship].  Another newspaper article stated she was not a First Lady who only dispensed tea and cookies to guests, but she was, in President Carter's own words, "a perfect extension of me."

The book, Tea with Presidential Families, stated she was inundated with invitations to host teas at the White House, most of which she accommodated.  During the many talks between Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat she entertained their wives with tea.  Being from the South, she particularly enjoyed 'Sweet Tea' as shown in the Internet photos below.

Rosalynn Carter and Mrs. Begin

 President & Mrs. Carter having lunch in the White House.

Did you know that Adagio Tea created a line of teas honoring a few U.S. First Ladies including Rosalynn Carter.  I will look forward to trying this blend.

Much closer to home came the news this morning that a dear, personal friend crossed from earth to Heaven, from mortality to incorruptible immortality.  My sweet friend, like Mrs. Carter, also had the prominent trait of serving others.  She worked in the church kitchen with me on many occasions, and we shared our love of tea together.  She was always a quiet, behind the scenes person, never seeking any accolades or recognition.  Whenever she sent a card or note, her signature phrase before signing her name was "God Bless You, Indeed!"  Today she is experiencing God's Blessings, Indeed!

Rest in peace, Jeanne, until we meet again.

 Jeanne on left and her daughter-in-law [middle] who preceded her to Heaven.

I'm standing next to Jeanne in the above photo.   The lady on the right also preceded Jeanne to Heaven and perhaps Tricia and Connie have already welcomed her.

Someday, maybe God will allow all of us to work together in one of Heaven's kitchens.  My son says there will be food in Heaven - not for nourishment or sustenance because it won't be necessary for existence - but for pleasure and enjoyment just like in the Garden of Eden.  I'm hoping there'll be tea there too!  ;-)

Friday, November 24, 2023

Post Thanksgiving Day [Black Friday]

As I type this post I'm wondering how many of you are either out shopping for Black Friday deals or staying in the comforts of your home doing your shopping online.

I'm not doing either, but I am enjoying a nice quiet day at home, leisurely sipping tea.  

We had a wonderful family Thanksgiving yesterday at our son Steve and Sharon's house. There were 11 of us.  Grandaughter, Brianna, was home from Nashville, plus Sharon's parents and a young man from church who would've been home alone if Steve hadn't invited him to join us

Sharon always enjoys decorating for the holidays and their house was very festive.  The Detroit Lions football game on the TV above the fireplace was a loser - the Green Bay Packers won 29 to 22.

~ Jerry and Sharon ~

 ~ Brianna, Brooke and Me ~

After our dinner had settled, it was time for dessert, which Lori provided.  She just returned on Wednesday from a week in California visiting Tiffany, John, Evie and Juliette, who sent their Thanksgiving greetings.

Following dessert it was game time.  First we played Sequence...

Then a new game [to us], 'Watch Ya Mouth'.  Each player wore a mouth piece [retractor] that distorted their speech.  They had one minute to read a quote while the other players tried to guess what they were saying.   It was hilarious, but Jerry and I sat this one out.  Dave was a good sport letting Steve take his picture.  Steve wondered if a dentist or dental hygentist created this game.  Can you believe it was a number one best seller on Amazon?!   

While we were playing games, Jeremy checked in from Zeeland to extend their Thanksgiving greetings.  They had just sat down to their dinner.

I hope you had a wonderful day with your family and/or friends.

Tomorrow [Saturday] won't be quite so leisure for me.  When I called The Whitney they told me 160 guests are coming for tea.  It will be a busy day!

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.  We are off to our son's house shortly to join family members for our Thanksgiving Dinner.  I've been in my happy place [kitchen] since 6:30 a.m. doing meal prep.

Thought I'd share a family Thanksgiving Day photo from 44 years ago when Jeremy was just two months old.  He looks like we were keeping him awake.  ;-)  The years have flown by!

I'll share pics tomorrow from this year's gathering.  

I'm closing this post with the Doxology [a short hymn of praise written in 1674] that we will sing today as the blessing for our  meal.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav'nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

God bless each of you reading this post.  I'm thankful for YOU!

Monday, November 20, 2023

I'm Back!

I didn't really go anywhere, but have been very busy with life.  My last post of Nov. 7th shared pics of some of our family celebrating my hubby's 77th birthday [a week early] on November 5th. On November 10th our youngest son and family came from Zeeland to celebrate Landon's 15th birthday along with Jerry's birthday. It's special that grandfather and grandson share the same birthday [Nov. 12th].  We had birthday cake on Friday night because I had to work on Saturday when they were all going out to breakfast together. 

A Boston Cream Cake

Photo below is the birthday boys on Saturday morning going to breakfast.  Of all weekends for The Whitney to be extremely busy [118 guests for Mansion Tea] I had to go to work earlier than usual and couldn't join them, but everyone had a good time without me. ;-)  After breakfast Landon [and family] were off to his maternal grandparent's house.

I decided to make Jeremy [our youngest son] a Shutterfly photo album for Christmas containing pictures from High School, College and his first teaching job in Colorado.  What a project it turned out to be.  I'm a picture taker so there were many [non-digital] pictures to sort through. Two dresser drawers full that weren't in photo albums... 

One tote [mostly pictures of my mom's that I inherited when she passed away]...

And one armoire of albums.  Wow!  That was a lot of pictures to go through.

I scanned almost 500 photos [the main reason I've been missing from my blog] and then had to arrange them in a Shutterfly album.  The album will be 111 pages - the maximum size possible, and I still had pics leftover that wouldn't fit into the album.  I FINALLY finished it last night [Sunday] and sent it off to Shutterfly.   A 10 x 10 hardcover book with maximum pages figured up to $388.31 but with coupon [free unlimited pages] my total was $124.70. The coupon expired at midnight Nov. 19th so that's why there was a time crunch.   My Hewlett-Packard computer is almost 10 years old [very old for a computer's life] and it almost died twice during the project, but thankfully limped along until the album was completed.  A new computer is on my agenda.

Here's a screenshot photo of the album's cover taken from my project's page at Shutterfly.  The actual album isn't scheduled to arrive until Dec. 2nd.  This the 23rd Shutterfly photo album I've made.  I should have stock in the company!  ;-)  Have you made Shutterfly albums?

A lovely woman [who was widowed young] at my church has taken the teen girls under her wing and established a Friday night group called FlourisHERS.  They are just concluding a charm class which included a segment on etiquette.  She thought it would be fun to bring the girls to The Whitney for Mansion Tea to put their etiquette skills into practice, and yesterday was the day.  We left right after morning worship service and I met them at The Whitney.  I arranged with my general manager beforehand to take the girls on a tour of the mansion before tea time.   Initially I was going to leave right after the tour but I ended up staying and having tea with them.  We had our own private room on the second floor, which was originally one of Mr. Whitney's daughter's, and it was a lovely afternoon.  There are 10 girls in the group, but only four could make it yesterday.

This is Thanksgiving week and a busy one.  My son and daughter-in-law, Steve and Sharon, will be hosting the family this year, but I will be making the turkey and dressing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and rolls and transporting them.  Sharon will fill in with other side dishes and my daughter will bring desserts.  Jeremy and family have opted to stay in Zeeland for the holiday as it's about a three hour drive to our side of the state.  They will join us on Christmas Eve.

How will you be spending Thanksgiving Day?  There is SO MUCH to be thankful for this year.