Monday, December 31, 2012

Hello, Monday--Post Christmas

Hello, Christmas boxes.  Glad to see you come.  Glad to see you go.

Hello, yellow towels.  
You made a cool table runner.
Hello, Siesta Scripture memory team verse one:
In addition to the blog that inspired me to pick Jeremiah 17:7, blog friends Elizabeth and Helen confirmed it.  Love it when God does things like that.
Hello, week of break remaining.  You'll go by super-fast. 'Cause that's what breaks do.
Hello, Silhouette! 
 Still can't get over Big Red surprising me with you!  MerryChristmas-HappyValentines--HappyBirthday-etc. to me.
Hello, messy house.  
What can I say?  Went to town Saturday; did nothing Sunday. Hello Monday cleaning routine.
How's your New Year's
Eve Monday?
Be blessed, 
Linking up with Lisa

Friday, December 28, 2012

Best of 2012

Hello, all!
 I hope your Christmas was lovely!
Ours was wonderful, in spite of a girl under the weather.  
Now I'm itching to undecorate (girls generally veto this if I go all out) and clean. Today started The Great Master Bedroom Clean-Out.  Still more to come tomorrow!

In honor of the passing year, I'm swiping an idea from over at incourage and making a list of my favs from 2012.  Will you join me?
Best Song: It's nearly impossible for me to pick one, but Hillsong's Cornerstone CD stayed on repeat for a loonnnggg time.
Best Book: Bibliophiles need sub-categories!
Best Christian non-fiction--How To Worship a King by Zach Neese and Mercy Triumphs by Beth Moore
Best general non-fiction--Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (It wasn't written in 2012, but I read it this year, so it counts! :))
Best fiction--The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley  
Best Jeans--a totally fun pair of green skinnies from NY and Co. The fact they were 75% off made me brave enough to try them on. Score!
Best Recipe:Another nearly impossible category, but these Gingerbread Scones were definitely a hit.  The winner, though, might be my Easy-Peasy Orange Marmalade, which warrants its very own post.
Best New Habit: Menu Planning.  I've actually done it most weeks, and I'm always glad I did.  That, in turn, makes my picture-frame-turned-menu-board my favorite project of the year.
Best Blog Post: The most viewed post of the year was the one where I kiss and make up with Walmart (at least temporarily), but the posts I love most are this one and this one, both about God's faithfulness in 2012.
Which brings me to the Bible verse that Defined the Year: Galatians 2:20 sang over my heart many-a-day in 2012.
      What's on your favorites list for 2012?
Be blessed,

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas is Coming and a Blogger Fail Apology

How's that for an all-encompassing title?
First, the apology to my lovely readers who actually entered my giveaway.  When I promised to draw a name this week, I had not anticipated the explosion of activity that was brewing around here--final exams, rehearsals, things-I-said-yes-to-that-should-have-been-no, concerts, Secret Santa.  Hence, your names will be entered in an after-Christmas giveaway that I promise will be lovely and special--like you, blog buddies!  Thank you for understanding that this middle-aged mama just could not get it together.

In other news, school is finally out.  Christmas can now come.
And it's here upon us, nearly.
My mama is coming.  That makes me happy.
My Savior came.  That brings me peace in a world gone nuts.
No small thing, this Emmanuel.  I want to really thank Him for coming.

Tonight, I am quiet in my house, alone while Big Red and girls are watching The Hobbit.
I'm making PW's cinnamon rolls, the first of several batches, and listening to carols, and loving our tree.  There's lots more to do, but for now I am choosing simple things.

In this moment, I breathe gratitude.
Thank You for coming.

Friday, December 14, 2012

We Have a Savior

**Don't forget about the Christmas CD giveaway.  Lurkers, de-lurk! :)**

This Christmas season, I've been doing the Good Morning Girls Advent devotional every morning.  Yesterday we went to the story of the shepherds.
These are familiar verses, a story I've read a thousand times, but, as happens, something new jumped out at me.
"And this will be sign unto you: you'll find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."
This will be a sign to you.
Um, hello, there are angels talking.
Out of sky.
While these poor shepherds are out there in the field minding their own business, doing what shepherds do--*bam!* a heavenly host of angels appeared.
And they need another sign?
Yet, here's the thing:
they didn't just need a sign.
They needed a Savior.
I needed a Savior.
I know my heart.
I know the anger, the unbelief, the selfishness, the shame, that resides there.
I know I can't fix it.
I can't Oprah-feel-good-high-self-esteem it away.
I needed a Savior.
The shepherds needed a sign because an angel sighting wasn't going to cut it.
Cool, but useless by itself.
Angels can't save; The Savior can save.
The only Savior is Jesus.
Hebrews 12:2 says He endured the cross for the joy set before Him.  Jude says--remarkably, amazingly--that I was that joy.
You were that joy.
Because He not only endured the cross but scorned its shame, He will one day present me before the Father without blemish and with great joy.
Leaping, dancing joy.
No wonder the angels called that good tidings of great joy.
We have a Savior.
Be blessed,

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Senses of the Season: A Giveaway

No more fever and I've almost stopped coughing.
I took one more day from school in hopes that my energy level might be close to normal by tomorrow. 
Today I have something for you:
a Christmas present from our house to yours!
I'll Lysol it before I mail it.
Since my couch exile began, I've been listening to this:
 The proceeds from this CD go to support International Justice Mission, a ministry  near to our hearts around here.
That's the sounds of the season helping to set captives free.
To round out the giveaway, there's some yummy-smelling scent for your home and an ornament to represent the Reason for Season.
It's a giveaway to see, hear, and smell all the goodness of Christmas!
To enter, leave a comment about some of your favorite Christmas sensory experiences--a smell, taste, sight, or sound that lets you know Christmas has really arrived.
The winner will be drawn on Sunday!
Be blessed,

Monday, December 10, 2012

Secret Santas and the Falliablity of Flu Shots

For the first time in about seven years, I got a flu shot this year.
For the first time in about ten years, I've got the flu.
The pharmacist informed me cheerfully this morning that my flu shot should at least lesson the duration of the nastiness.
That's something, I suppose.
Anyway, I unexpectedly have time to do a bit of planning for one of my favorite holiday traditions: Secret Santas.
At my school, participating teachers and staff draw names and trade goodies the last week before school gets out for break.
Since gift-giving is one of my love languages, I'm quite sure that I have more fun than the recipient.  
I don't have my person's name yet, so right now I'm just browsing for general cuteness.  If it's cute, cheap, and creative (the CCC test), I'm all over it. If I draw one of the few male teachers who participate, I'll just buy a two-pound bag of M&M's, slap a bow on it, and call it good! ;-)
Things that pass the CCC test so far:

Candy Cane dip and an apple-yum!:


Gift for kid's friends (microwave popcorn and gloves) - just popped by to wish you a Merry Christmas 

I've already bought the polish  (the NYC brand to keep the "cheap" part in place) to do these for my lunch table buddies:
I have to remember this for Christmas!! 
So, how about you?  What's your favorite small gift to give (or receive)?
Be blessed,

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Open House

Here's my disclaimer even as I post this:
 I am lying on my couch nursing the full-blown version of the sore-throat/cold that's threatened for weeks.  This post is an observation made in full awareness of the practical difficulties; this is about baby steps. 

Every night this week seemed to disappear in blur.  Pastor search team, choir practice, the inevitable Walmart run.
Normally, Big Red and I are in a small group Bible study on Wednesdays when our girls are at youth group.  With it unexpectedly cancelled this week, visions of a few peaceful hours danced in my head.  So when some friends invited us to drop by for supper, I can't say I was looking forward to it.
I can say I was amazed by it.
(When's the last time you had an impromptu gathering at your home?
Um, hasn't happened here lately.) 
There were no decorations yet, but piano music played softly in the background.
There was potato soup.
Some cornbread that had stuck to the pan and and was somewhat worse for wear.
Pound cake and fruit.
It was simple.
It was perfect.
It reminded me again that we have vastly over-complicated what it means to be hospitabl
and therefore in community.
We have a zillion excuses for our hermit lifestyles. 
Don't blame Pintrest.
Before it, it was Martha and magazines.
My house isn't__, my cooking isn't__, fill-in-the-blank.
More truthfully, my schedule is overfilled and my heart for people is undernourished.
I want to appreciate (and emulate)the potato soup, 
imperfect cornbread,
a mug of coffee,
a cup of cold water
in His Name
for His people.
Be blessed  today,

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Stockings Aren't Hung...

..but the rest is coming along!  Here's a mini-tour of what we accomplished this weekend.
Warning: Picture-heavy post!
(And, as always, all images are property of D.I.T.H.  Thanks and Merry Christmas!)
Now that the DD's have strong decorating opinions, they overruled my suggestion to go a bit rustic with the tree this year, but they conceded to a vintage vibe by limiting the ornaments to green and red balls and handmade, sentimental ornaments from their *sniff* preschool days.

I love cinnamon dough ornaments!  They still smell good after all these years!

Cute preschool footprint! 

I swiped a chalkboard from the porch and framed it.

Pine in shabby-chic pots:

Books in the colors of the season with a touch of greenery:
Do you see our theme?  It's red-gold-evergreen-rustic-vintage-y.  Sort of.

The "theme" came from my hands-down favorite spot, the mantel.

My antique chalkboard makes a reappearance with my only first Christmas craft, a burlap banner stamped with the names of God.
I saw the idea from the lovely and talented Lemonade Makin Mama.  She sells them in her etsy shop, but since they were always sold out before I even knew they were there, I decided to make my own.
Biggest stamps available from Hobby Lobby + black ink pad + burlap/gold ribbon that was an early Christmas present from a friend.  I heart it.
And I like y'all, too, so stay tuned for more holiday cheer from the 'House.


Friday, November 30, 2012

By the Numbers: End of November edition

 school days until Christmas break!
approximate number of essays awaiting my attention between now and then
approximate number of essays I brought home to read this weekend
approximate number of essays I'll probably read this weekend
The no-kidding, not-exaggerated average number of kids in our grade absent every day this week because of stomach flu
Number of cans of Lysol sprayed in my room 
Time I went to bed last night
Time I feel asleep
Teens plus dog=reasons why I wasn't asleep
Blogposts I've written in my head this week
Blogposts that were actually written
Christmas decorations I've put up
Times I've listened to this CD
 Product Details
 since Thanksgiving
What have you been counting this week?
Be blessed,

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Light Has Come

I find myself with an unexpected blogging opportunity this afternoon; a meeting that threatened to absorb the whole evening has been postponed, so here I sit, tap-tapping away this grey and chilly Tuesday afternoon.

Using the Advent devotional from Good Morning Girls this morningI read John 1:9-12:
The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

 My notes start out like this:
How, Lord, how did those You created miss you?  How did they not even recognize You when You're standing there right in front of them, being You in the flesh?  They could touch You, listen to You teach, watch Your hands at work. 

Then it dawned on me that maybe recognition wasn't the point.  What is recognition, anyhow?  A simple acknowledgement?  Familiarity?  Is it, after all, the same as truly knowing somebody?
His own didn't recognize Him, yet all who believed and received Him got relationship.
He sacrificed temporal acknowledgement and chose adoption instead.
Recognition was replaced by reconciliation.
 I wonder how many times I've settled for "recognizing" Jesus-- 
Oh, hi, Lord. Bless this activity, and how about handling that other situation?--instead of reverencing Him, worshiping Him as a beloved daughter.
Remember my "intentional" summer break?  Here we are, nearly six months later, and truth be told, I've been on automatic pilot  for a few months now.  I've got the routine, but the  relationship has been perfunctory at best.  This Advent season, I want something more than the same old-same old.  I don't want my relationship with Christ to just be about recognition.
I want to know my Redeemer.
I want to know the One Who gave me the right to call Him Abba, Daddy.
Be blessed today,



Sunday, November 25, 2012

Scripture and a Snapshot: As Your Days

I'm not really a shoe girl.
Don't get me wrong; I like cute shoes and seek them out, but, truthfully, comfort wins the day.
Left to my own devices, I will end up in my walking shoes.
These shoes have walked many a mile (though, perhaps, not as many as they should have).
They're sporting a few paint spatters and a lot of dirt.
For now, they get the job done.
Recently, I came upon Deuteronomy 33:25 in the New King James, a translation I don't usually read.  The word "sandels" jumped out at me because my Bible translates it "bolts".  A little detective work revealed that both words are correct; the Hebrew root, "bolt" or "gate" is also used for "shoe".  
The idea, I think, is something latching over the foot, protecting it, keeping out potential dangers.
'Cause if your feet hurt, girlfriend, everything hurts.
Deuteronomy 33:25 is the blessing to Asher, and it says, "your sandals will be iron and bronze; as your days, so shall your strength be."
As your days, so shall your strength be.
I need to know that.  
I need to know that His strength won't run out before my days do.
He knows the days that are coming and what we'll need for them.
Unlike my Reeboks, He won't wear out.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Tutorial: Procrastination and Pumpkin

When a teacher has approximately 2,456 papers she's avoided all of Thanksgiving break, and now it's Saturday, and she should really get something done before school starts back on Monday, here's what she might do:
6:30 am Bible study + coffee + sunrise.  First things first.
7:00 am Dig papers out of tote bag that's been shoved in a corner all week.
7:01am Sigh.
7:02 Decide to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls.  Realize we're missing ingredients for the recipe we normally use.  Search internet for alternative. Choose these.
7:15 am Start mixing these.
7:45 am Look at papers. 
7:46 am Sigh
7:47 am Throw in a load of laundry.
7:52 am Break two-cups-of-coffee rule.
8:00 am Grade first stack of papers.
8:59 am Fist pump!  Only 2,446 left to go!
9:00 am  Weight Watchers Conviction: omit half the butter from the recipe.  Spread slightly less guilt-inducing amount and spiced sugar on top of dough.
9:15 am Make a healthy omelet to assuage conscience.
9:45 am Bake pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

 10:05 am Spread rolls with gooey glaze made with juice of one orange, 4 oz.cream cheese, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, a little vanilla, and the leftover 1/2 stick of butter.
10:11 am Lick the fork. Consider another.
10:12 am Willpower wins out.  Deliver some of remaining temptation rolls to neighbors.
10:30 am Read more papers.  Debate whether  trash can is kinder than F's.
11:06 am: Write blog post wishing readers a belated Happy Thanksgiving and passing on great antiprocrastination tips
Be blessed, 

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Post to Help My Memory

Happy Thanksgiving Week to you!
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, and November one of my favorite months.  It is a day of fullness--full of blessing, full of gratitude, full of anticipation, full of food.
We have had assorted Thanksgiving traditions over the years, but one that remains constant is the appearance of Butternut-Oatmeal Rolls on the menu.  
They coincide with DD#2's first Thanksgiving, which makes them extra-special.
That also means that the magazine they came out of is 13 years old.
This morning I had a brief moment of panic when I couldn't find it for a few minutes.
I might have been disowned by certain members of the family.
This post, then, is to bless your family with the yummiest rolls ever, and to save my hide next year if something happens to that magazine over the next twelve months.
Butternut Oatmeal rolls on last year's table; they get a photo op every year.
So without further ado, I present

Butternut-Oatmeal Rolls

      2(1/4 oz) envelopes active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water (100* to 110*)
5 1/2 to 5 3/4 cups bread flour, divided
1 1/4 cups mashed, cooked butternut squash (1 medium)
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup oats, divided
1 tablespoon water

Combine yeast and 1 1/4 cups warm water; let stand 5 minutes.  Combine yeast mixture, 3 cups flour, and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until smooth. Set two tablespoons of oats aside; gradually stir in remaining oats and 2 cups flour to make a moderately stiff dough. 
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). (Great stress reliever!)        Add enough of the remaining flour, a little at a time, to prevent sticking.  Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning once to coat top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 35 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
Punch dough down.  Divide dough in half,and shape each portion into an 18x7 inch rectangle.  Spread each half with 2 tablespoons butter.  Cut into 1x7 inch strips; roll up strips and place in lightly greased muffin cups.  Cover and let rise in a warm place, 25 minutes or until doubled.  Bake at 350* for 15 to 18 minutes.  Remove to wire racks to cool.  Yield: 3 dozen

Don't be intimidated by the long directions or by the process of making yeast bread.  Yeast breads are quite forgiving; the trickiest part is the dissolving the yeast, and candy thermometer to check the  temperature of your water takes the stress of that away.  If you're not sure the rolls have cooked long enough, pop one out of the muffin tin and tap the bottom of it; if it sounds hollow, the rolls are done.

These make awesome turkey sandwiches!
Be blessed today,
linking up over at Brambleberry Cottage