Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Baking in the Air

Here's a question about Christmas baking. Thinking of Christmases past, what would you say is your ever-favorite holiday treat? And what would be your most poignant memory connected to baking or cooking this time of year?

For me, it's the whole idea of making Christmas fruitcake... the excitement that swirled around the kitchen table as Mom and Grandma would spend the day before measuring, chopping, and mixing all the fruit, peel, raisins and nuts. Little hands would sneak the odd cherry or almond.... usually to the mild chiding to get your hands out of there.

Then would come the measuring of brown paper to line the loaf pans (of course now I use parchment), greasing them down...


Pouring in the lovely batter, and then watching as the pans with their rich treasure slide into the oven. The anticipation built as we all seemed to be waiting for the spiced fragrance to begin wafting through the kitchen ... those exotic smells of cinnamon and cloves and ginger.

Nowadays fruitcake seems to get a bad rap around these parts, but both my hubby and I love fruitcake, and we always look forward to cutting generous slices to eat with steaming cups of black tea on a wintry afternoon.

The photos here are for a light fruitcake -- you can find the recipe here.

On that spicy note, I'm away,

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mrs. Potato Head

Ever wonder why your favorite potato dish turns out better some times than other times?  Well, a few years ago I finally discovered that a potato is not a potato is not a potato. Sure, just call me Mrs. Potato Head.

In case you wondered that yourself and want to know how to choose the right spud for your next potato recipe, just click on my recipe blog here....

Sometimes it's just a little thing -- a small tweek -- that adds grace to the journey, making our lives more beautiful all around.

Wishing you a great day,


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Was That A Glimpse?

Or was that a Flicker?

Yes, yes.... I do believe this handsome fellow who landed on the seed bag near our arbor is indeed a northern flicker.  A species that I don't think has ever visited our yard before. So what a treat to catch sight of this beauty the other day.

Notice the heart-shaped red marking on his head...striking, isn't it?

 With a pose like that, I'm thinking he's asking,
"So, which pose do you think makes me look handsomer?
My right profile...

...or my left?

Mr. Flicker, no matter which angle, you were worth meeting!  Thanks for stopping by.  Hope you come again real soon!

Wishing you glimpses and flickers of your own fine feathered friends.....

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sleepy Farewells

Do you ever go into your garden after a frost has taken the bloom off everything in it?  Do you murmur a little thank you to all your flowers, trees and shrubs, not to mention the odd bumblebee who might be making its rounds one last time? 

To offer a grateful whisper to them for having made your little corner of the world a beautiful place...

I almost imagine that they offer sleepy nods in response as they nestle in for a well-deserved rest until Spring.

I took the above photos a couple of weeks ago...before the snow arrived...and forgot to post.

All things that are beautiful
~ think on these things ~
and give thanks!

Wishing you a beautiful day,


Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Morning Catch Up

Lots of catch up this morning. Glad corn chowder is ready in the frig to be re-heated when hubby gets home from work. (It always tastes better the next day.)

On my list (so far):
  1. Research and decide topic for my New Year blogging column article in FellowScript, our writers' fellowship quarterly newsletter.
  2. Plan some holiday baking for our healing room prayer team Christmas party coming in a couple of weeks.
  3. Plan a non-surprise birthday gathering for someone near and dear -- aka as Mr. Hubby -- for December.
  4. Pick up car from the garage because repairs are done.
  5. Make a Bake (aka as lazy tea-biscuits w/o rolling or cutting, just shaping into a circle loaf) to go with said corn chowder.
  6. Throw a couple of laundry loads in. Dry. Fold. No ironing involved (thankfully) today.
  7. Be secretary to my mom for a business letter she needs to send off.
  8. Decide what's for supper -- sweet and sour pork chops, baked tender in the oven with lots of sauce in which to smother brown rice on the side.
  9. Clean up lunch dishes and prepare the cauliflower veggy dish to go with the above.
  10. Check my e-mails and blog.. squeeze in a couple of blog visits for a few minutes.
  11. Stop and enjoy the unusual siting of a northern flicker in my garden -- what a treat (will post a pic as soon as I can).
  12. Take tea and have a rest by the fireplace before supper. (will I have time for this??)

Wishing you the best kind of Monday!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sugar and Spice...

VOILA!  I did it.  Remember I mentioned yesterday that I just might have to make cinnamon buns as it was such a blustery shivery day outside.  (It didn't take much arm twisting either!)

So between finishing off a book and its companion book review for my evening class, I had fun rolling out a small batch of these toothsome morsels, much to the delight of everyone in the household.

The recipe is posted over on my food site should you have the urge for something warm and delicious.

Here's wishing you sugar and spice and everything nice,



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Decidedly Winter

Can you tell ... it's here in earnest now!

With temperatures well below freezing, bone-chilling winds from the northwest, and the skies heavy with snow (which the weatherman promises is sure to dump before day's end) it's a day for staying close to the home fires, if at all possible. And I'm very grateful that I can today.

The other day when the first real snow flurried around us like a tempest in the teapot -- creating a whiteout for a while and leaving its frosted signature on everything in sight -- I thought later it would been a fun time to take some kids and dogs for a tromp down some nature path.

Well today... not so much.  It's decidedly nippy out there.  I know, as I just got back from topping up bird feeders. Rather, it's a morning for staying inside, keeping the twinkle lights on all day, and putting on a bit of seasonal music, something like Vivaldi's Winter from Four Seasons, and then enjoying that second cup of coffee, as blogging friend Sandy always loves to say.

Here's wishing you joy for the journey... 
and everything you need pertaining to life and goodness!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Blogging Tip: How To Change Photo Sizes

This tip is for Blogger users

Ever notice bloggers who display their beautiful photos in big, bold, eye-catching sizes? Yet when you load a photo and you want to make it x-large, it's too big and it spills over into the sidebar... which certainly isn't attractive. But when you click on medium, it's too small?

How can you change the size to fit your blog column?

With a little poking, prodding, and praying for wisdom, I figured out that I could 'safely' change the size of the photo in the HTML code. Believe me, when I figured this out, I knew next to nothing about html code. So we tread carefully here.

If you're asking the same question, here's how to do it:

1.  Load your photo into your post.
2.  Click on the photo and select X-Large.

3.  Look for the tabs COMPOSE and HTML at the top of your post toolbar.

4. Click on HTML tab. Don't be afraid at what you see... I know it can look a little scary with all those symbols, but if you scroll through that mess until you see a code that has the words 'height' and 'width' in it... that's the code for your photo. It will look something like this:
<a href="" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="398" src="" width="640" /></a></div>

Notice the numbers in red -- 398 and 640. These indicate the height and width of your photo. The numbers are what you can safely change to make it fit the space in your posting column, and still look stunning and luxurious.

For my blog post column size, I usually need to change the width from 640 to 590. You might need to experiment a little. I don't usually change the height, but you can experiment if you want to make it longer as well. Just be careful not to change the proportions so much that it changes the perception.

Remember, you only change those numbers, nothing else, unless you know your way around HTML.  If something does go weird, click on the 'undo' button (backwards arrow) to bring it back to the original.

5.  Once you've discovered the magic size that works for you, that's all you need to do. Now click back on COMPOSE tab and make sure it's the size you want. Carry on with your posting, preview, and hit Publish.

NB.  You can also do this with video or YouTube uploads. Just always watch for the words 'height' and 'width' and change the size to fit your column.

Another Option. One blogger said she actually changed the size of her column so the photos would fit properly. Either way would work. You would change in your template settings. 

Hope this simple tip helps!

Friday, November 11, 2011

God Knows How To Find You

In those times I can't seem to find God,
I rest in the assurance He knows how to find me.
~ Neva Coyle

I went through my greeting card collection the other day in search of a card I could send to a friend who'd been on my mind. I didn't find anything suitable for her but I did find a note card with the above quote.

I went to put the cards away, but felt drawn to first share the quote here. Perhaps there is someone who is reading this who needs to see these comforting words. If that's you, I pray you peace for your mind and heart for He is closer to you than even the mention of His name. Whisper it right now... Jesus.


Lest we forget....

 As we commemorate sacrifices past and present,
I am pleased to share these two Remembrance Day poems
written by my beautiful nieces...

It’s Not Fair, But…

It’s not fair, my country was invaded.
It’s not fair, my freedom was faded.
It’s not fair, soldiers had to sacrifice.
It’s not fair, parents had to pay the price.
It’s not fair, when families have to say goodbye.
It’s not fair, when people die!

But, I’m glad that it is done!
I’m glad, that I don’t have to worry about anybody’s gun.
I’m glad, my freedom is restored.
I’m glad, for this reward.
I’m glad, that I am free.
I’m glad my father came home to me!

by Chiante, age 12

A Sacrifice

They march in single file to the battlefield.
Their family hopes that at least they would come home alive.
The weapons come out, the tanks start roaring, the battle has begun.

They come home from the war, never the same as they were before.
Their families are thankful they came home, some with wounds, some without.
Their lives forever changed.
We are thankful for the sacrifice they have made.

by Sierra, age 9

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Beagle Bailey The Best


Not your usual 'play dead' trick --  Bailey takes it to a new level.

If you've seen it already, hey, it's worth a second laugh.
Note -- watch her front paw when her human buddy lifts it.

BTW,  I heard it told (based on neurological reseach now out there), YES, it's totally possible to teach an 'old' dog new tricks. Because our brain can always form new furrows to accommodate new ideas and new habits. So no more excuses.
Enjoy your day... here's to learning something new today!


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Figuring Life Out

Today I offer you this little gift of a short video I found on YouTube. Although Figuring Life Out is the trailer for Ann Voskamp's recently-released book One Thousand Gifts, I think it's really too beautiful to be called a 'trailer'. Ann's poignant words and accompanying photos are sure to lift your spirit as she shares the marvels and joy found in a thousand gifts... or as I like to put it  'catching glimpses of heaven in unexpected places'. I was so moved I had to watch it more than once.

I hope you enjoy,

For other links you might like to check out:

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Words For Life and Wellness

Do any of you know the book Come Away My Beloved, The Intimate Devotional Classic by Frances J. Roberts? Written several decades ago, the author wrote poetic meditations out of her own close relationship with God, and she invite her readers to draw near God too. 

A few years ago, I "happened" across this book. I say "happened" in quotes, because I've learned over the years that nothing just "happens". Behind the scenes so often I believe God is gently directing my steps... so that books, songs, movies, and people's timely words come at just the 'right' time to encourage, uplift, and instruct me.

Why tell you all this? Because as I happened to reach to open the book this evening I was immediately drawn to a few gently penciled phrases and sentences from earlier readings. It had obviously spoken to me in the past, but there it was as fresh and new and life-affirming as if it were the first time. For, you see, I've been working on areas in my own thought life as I begin to understand more clearly that my thoughts do impact the health and well-being of my physical body.

I couldn't just close the book and go back to bed... because I know so many of us struggle in similar areas. Perhaps Ms. Roberts' words are words for more than just me tonight! Because after all, each of us longs to be well in body and soul -- it's what He longs for us too. It's my own wish for you too.

Excerpts from: 'Whatsoever You Sow', Come Away My Beloved, Frances J. Roberts.
"How can I give you healing for your body while there is anxiety in your mind?  So long as there is disease in your thoughts, there will be disease in your body.  You need many things, but one thing in particular you must develop for your own preservation, and that is an absolute confidence in My loving care.
It is written, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28.  Only when your mind is at rest can your body build health.  Worry is an actively destructive force.  Anxiety produces tension, and tension is the road to pain.  Fear is devastating to the physical well-being of the body.  Anger throws poison into the system that no antibiotic can ever counteract....

Ten minutes of unbridled temper can waste enough strength to do a half day of wholesome work.  Your physical energy is a gift from God, entrusted to you to be employed for His glory.  It is a sin to take His gift and dissipate it through the trap doors of the disposition's evil emotions.

Do not condemn others for jeopardizing their health by harmful habits and wasting their energies on vain pursuits while you undermine your health by unworthy emotions.  You waste time by entertaining such things as self-pity and remorse and evil surmising when you might be keeping your mind in an attitude of praise and faith...

You cannot risk giving your thoughts free rein. They will never choose the right path until you bridle them and control them by your own disciplined will.  You are master of your own house....

Whatsoever you sow in your secret thought life, that you will reap.  Sow love and kindness, and you shall be rewarded... Sow charity and forgiveness, and you shall reap in kind.  Sow generosity and gratitude, and you shall never feel poor.  Sow hope, and you shall reap fulfillment......"

  May these words bring each of us life and wellness,

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Warm From The Oven

We truly saw frost on the pumpkins, the roof-tops, and the windshields on cars when we woke this morning. Which made it a perfect afternoon to fill the kitchen with sweet cinnamon-y smells. How fortuitous (as my sister would say) to have discovered just yesterday Lorrie's long standing family recipe for Apple Pastry Squares. And how doubly fortuitous that I had a bowlful of apples just waiting for such an occasion.

With generous slices still warm from the oven paired with steaming cups of coffee, we happily settled beside the fireplace to watch a British mystery movie. How delightful. How delicious!

Lorrie mentioned that you could serve this with ice cream if you wanted, but she preferred it without. We agreed with her assessment. As much as I like a dollop of creamy vanilla ice cream atop almost anything, it was a truly delectable stand alone. 

So thanks to Lorrie, what might have been just an ordinary chore-filled afternoon turned into a very pleasant occasion for all the residents of this household! Here's to you, Lorrie!

And here is wishing you all a beautiful day,


Friday, November 04, 2011

From My Archives

 From My Archives

This afternoon I spent some time on my computer sorting through and cleaning up old files. It was high time too!  Oh my, what an odd assortment, and what a great relief to press DELETE on some of that motley crew!

That's when I thought I'd also dive into my blogging archives to see if there were any pieces I could use as springboards for new postings. It was a little like opening an old cedar chest of treasures as I browsed through old writings. Little squeals of delight as I'd read something that had been so much fun to write, or be reminded of the joy of meeting yet another kindred spirit in blogland.

That's when I uncovered an old piece I had enjoyed posting just a few short weeks into my blogging experience. It seemed sufficiently amusing to dust off and post again; it also seemed appropriate in light of today's cleaning efforts. So, if you don't mind another go around, I invite you to read "Dust Bunny Conference", originally posted in September 2008.

On that note, here's wishing you a cozy evening
and a wonderful weekend ahead!


From the Archives -- "Dust Bunny Conference, September 2008"
I'VE BEEN BUSY dusting this morning. You see, while I was away at an inspirational Women's Conference this past weekend, it appears that the local Dust Bunnies Society used my house as its venue for their own meeting place. As the sun streams into my living room, I can see that a good time must have been had by all -- very visible signs of their presence are in every corner!

I'm reminded of Dorothy Cannell's musings on spring cleaning in her mystery novel entitled The Spring Cleaning Murders: "Oh, the joy of routing woodworm from the back-bedroom bureau! (What a recharging of the female batteries at discovering enough dirt under the sofa to plant pansies!)"

I can relate... I, too, feel a great satisfaction in discovering layers of dust and erasing them with a stealthy swipe of the hand. The thicker the layer, the more recharged and satisfied I feel!

There's a certain beauty in getting rid of the excess clutter, putting things back in their places, and adding a gleam of polish to furniture pieces. For me, bringing order out of chaos in my cupboards, closets and corners plays a key role in making my life more beautiful...I'm happier when things are in place, and I find I'm more creative and energetic too.

On that note, I'm off to round up more dusty seems they used every room in the house!


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Kitty Lovers...Check This Out!

Rachel has been posting about her brand new kittens over at Sing Like No One's Listening. We've had great delight in watching them grow as she posts photos on her blog. Today's post is just too cute and too sweet not to share the link with you. As you know, kitties are one of my great JOYS in life! 

Take a few moments... put your life on paw-s and pop over here for a peek.

Wishing you a purr-fectly wonderful day!