Monday, December 17, 2018

A Quick Monday Hello

Santa Baby visited on Sunday!
Hello!  Obviously I didn't have time to write a Sunday post yesterday.  We had a wonderful time together.  The Christmas menu is so much easier to prepare than Thanksgiving and we all love it.

Every time we see Piper, she has changed.  Even when it hasn't been very long.  She is such a lot of fun and the baby is cuddly cute.  Piper likes anything having to do with cars and I found a very pre-school friendly set on Amazon.  They are larger than Matchbox cars but still perfect for small hands.  Once she opened the box that had her cars in it, they took up all of her interest the rest of the visit.

I'm taking a few days rest to read and enjoy some Christmas movies.  Reading is still a bit of a challenge since the vision in my right eye has not completely returned.  The main difference is that I cannot read small font and I have to take breaks so eye strain doesn't set in.

One of my favorite Hallmark movies is The Nine Lives of Christmas.  I plan to watch it this afternoon. Of course, it has kitties in it so I would love it but it is also a good (believable) story.  I use credit to purchase a couple Christmas movies a year since so many of my old favorites are no longer available on television.

I plan to post some more Christmas decorating photos this week (I have been showing some on Instagram... @coffeeteabooksandme).  Thanksgiving was early this year so we had almost an extra week of the official Christmas season. 

Now to pour another cup of coffee (in my new Pioneer Woman mug Piper helped her mommy choose) and have an extended quiet time. As I write, there is Christmas music playing on the CD player and rare winter sunlight is pouring through the Study window.  I think it is a sign to have a good day.

Mentioned in this Blog Post
The car set I bought for Piper... here.  (Really cute and sturdy!)
The Nine Lives of Christmas DVD... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links. I thank you for taking the time to enter your shopping through a link or widget.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Some pantry chatting

Christmas Eve a few years ago

Thank you for the comments and suggestions about losing everything in the freezer.  I appreciated them very much.  When menu planning, I still have to remind myself the items in the freezer are GONE!

Oh, well... life continues as usual.

I already checked spices to see if any needed to be added to my grocery list for the Holidays.  They were already up to date when I checked early in the baking season.  Mainly because I check throughout the year so there is no need to spend more than I want at Christmas.

What I had not checked yet was the date on the baking powder.  I assumed it was fine, even though I hadn't baked as much this past year.  When I looked, I was shocked.  Honestly, I think my jaw fell... that shocked.  The Use By date was in 2016!  Proof that time goes faster than we remember.

I threw it away and Rumsford baking powder was immediately added to the shopping list.  I am so glad I checked before doing any baking that needed it. I've been mixing and freezing shortbread dough for the (refrigerator) freezer and that recipe does not need baking powder.

I had another expiration date experience last week.  I received a bread machine as an early Christmas gift (I have missed having one the past few years, I mainly use the dough cycle!) so I needed to purchase a jar of yeast at the grocery store.  I picked up one jar and looked at the expiration date and thought it seemed kind of early, it was April 2019.  So I picked up a jar a little further back on the shelf and the expiration date was an entire year later in 2020!

I don't recall who it was that always gave the recommendation to check a few items on the shelf for expiration dates before making a purchase.  I started doing this at the time and I've been surprised at finding items past their expiration date on the shelves.  I mainly check for baking items and canned goods purchased to "put back" and deepen the pantry.

Our Christmas dinner is going to be tomorrow, when our son and his family will travel here as well as our daughter-in-law's family.  One family lives further north and the other further south so they will meet and dine here in between.  It didn't work out for our usual Thanksgiving dinner at our house this year so I suggested a combined Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner here in mid-December.  That worked great for all of us.

I had already been decluttering a little at a time so a few weeks ago, I began cleaning a little at a time.  What is it about company coming over that one's house suddenly seems such a mess?  I don't know where all those spider webs came from in our small bathroom.  It makes me wonder where all those spiders are!

Today I make pies and set the table so tomorrow I only need to bake the ham and a couple sides.  I'm also baking some of the shortbread cookies to make certain there are simple cookies for Piper. We will get to cuddle baby Oliver again.  He is more alert than when we saw him as a newborn.

I don't get to see our son's family and these friends often so each time we can get together is precious time.  Especially when food is involved and I get to use my favorite china.  ;)  The other ladies are bringing their specialties.

It would be perfect if my daughter and her family could be here but they tried that 1,000 mile trip at Christmas time... once.  When there were only two or three small children.  Instead we all agreed it best to visit in warmer weather.  When we see them this summer, it will have been two years since we were all together.  But we make it work.

Now... there are pies to bake.  Here is a newborn photo of Oliver with his mommy, my daughter-in-law is pretty even after sleepless nights!  He will be two months old soon.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Case for Christ: Daily Moment of Truth, a review

If you have ever read one of Lee Strobel's "The Case For" books, you will know they are in-depth and have a great deal of apologetic information.  While excellent books, they can be overwhelming for those who do not have the time or interest for in-depth learning at the moment.

Which is why I was interested in this devotional by Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg based on "The Case For" books.  There are 180 devotionals that can be easily read during a quiet time.  Each of these devotionals contain an answer to often asked questions by skeptics.

Just a few of the devotional titles are:
  • Made in God's Image
  • Can We Trust the Story of Jonah?
  • The Heavens Declare
  • The Universe Offers Clues
  • Design at the Molecular Level
  • Three Equals One?
  • The Problem of Evil
  • In Search of Nazareth

I highly recommend this devotional for two kinds of people in particular... First, Christians who want to learn more about apologetics in short bursts of Truth.  Second, as a gift to a person who has questions about the God of the Bible. This devotional is a good introduction to the books such as The Case for Christ and The Case for a Creator.

This book was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

Further information can be found... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Ponderings from Luke Chapter One

Every Christmas season seems to have its' own... feeling.  This year it has been one of making Beauty and deep reflections.  Most of my decorations came out of their containers, only a few that are too special to give away but I didn't want to display this year remained in their tissue paper shawls.

I have enjoyed early mornings with the tree lit in the family room and going about my day with other rooms dressed in their festive finery.  This year was definitely a season to sparkle.  Even those days I spend alone or with only my husband (and Florentine) in the house. We not only need a little Christmas this year, we need a whole lot of what the season is all about.

Every Christmas season, I like to spend some time rereading the Christmas Story in the Gospel of Luke.  You know, that same section which Linus recites in A Charlie Brown Christmas.  The lovely amazing miracle story of the birth of a Savior.  That part of Scripture which even the most ardent nonbeliever most likely has heard, especially if they like Charlie Brown.

So this past week, I picked up my large print Modern English Version Bible (a translation I'm loving) and as usual, started reading Luke 1:1.  But something was different this year.  I could not get past that first chapter.

My spiritual eyes were open to the events prior to the Nativity story as never before.  Why had I not given them the attention they deserve?  I think the Holy Spirit, who has a way of leading my ponderings, knew they were needed this year.  At this time in the History of the world... including my own small part of it.

From that moment when Gabriel appeared to Zechariah, to Elizabeth's pregnancy far beyond the time such is normal, to Gabriel appearing to the teenage Mary and announcing she is "blessed among women" and will conceive a Son and call His name Jesus, to Elizabeth being filled with the Spirit of God and her baby leaped in her womb at Mary's visit... the events of the Nativity were being prepared.

What struck me when reading was how God did not send Gabriel to the kings of the earth but to regular people going about their daily life.  Zechariah was where he was suppose to be that day as a priest of God.  Young Mary and Elizabeth were most likely at home.  None of them were expecting God's special messenger to appear before them and turn their world upside down.

Before the baby Jesus first cried as an infant in the stable, God was preparing the people involved for what was to come.  Mostly in quiet places for even Zechariah was made to be quiet, even though his position at the Temple would otherwise assume great speeches would be given.

So much of the story of the birth of Christ takes place in small and hidden places.  If I were in charge of bringing the Savior to the world, I would have announced it before the kings of the earth and the angels would have appeared in the sky for all the world to see.

God chose to do otherwise for He who created us knows that His people learn most in the quiet times of their days, when life appears to be on hold, when we seem so insignificant to our neighbors and perhaps our family but He knows otherwise.

Yes, God used a priest in the temple and that was not only appropriate but necessary but otherwise He entered the world of one older woman and the womb of a very young woman.  Quietly.

Oh, He did make a heavenly announcement but only those who were looking for His sign would understand.  The star in the sky which led the travelers from afar to worship the new king.  The angels made quite an appearance before lowly shepherds in the field but it had to be that only their eyes were opened to the Heavenly choir as we have no indication anyone else in Bethlehem saw them.

I think Luke chapter one reminds us of the value of the seasons of life when nothing seems to be happening... the value of the people that the world would see as unimportant such as an older woman and a teenage girl and later lowly shepherds... how God loved using unlikely humans in the most important Story.

I had just spent time in this first chapter of Luke when I watched some of George H. W. Bush's funeral.  I watched an interview with a long time friend of his who was asked about the importance of Bush's mother to his becoming the person he was.  The friend said he was always talking about what his mother taught him even though he respected his father, a U. S. Senator, very much.

The friend said that his mother, an evangelical Episcopalian who knew Francis Schaeffer (I would have liked her!), was the most significant person who shaped his character.  This woman who was in the background of a famous husband and son... affected the world by her role as mother and homemaker.

Each of us was created for "such a time as this", whatever day and month and year in the history of the world we made our appearance.  We were not an accident.  God placed us in our family, in this time, with certain gifts and talents on purpose.

I don't think any person knows the affect they have had on the world until they stand before God.  I'm convinced every one of us will be surprised at how much the unseen days and events will have affected eternity.

So this week, I will finally make it to Chapter Two of the Book of Luke.  To those familiar words, "In those days a decree was sent out from Caesar Augustus that the entire inhabited earth should be taxed".  However, I will look at the second chapter differently now that I have pondered chapter one.

Mentioned in this Blog Post
MEV Large Print Personal Size Bible Cherry Brown... here.
A Charlie Brown Christmas DVD... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - A pantry disaster and a few cookbook suggestions

It is the kind of thing you hope never happens even though you know from past experience such disasters are a possibility.  One learns that when mice eat their way through the pantry in the garage (lesson learned... Rubbermaid style containers!).

This past week, I went to put a couple items in our deep freeze and when I opened the lid, the aroma was horrible.  The flat container of ice cream was the second indicator that something was seriously wrong.  It turns out that the deep freeze had become accidentally unplugged and everything in the freezer was ruined.

My husband thinks he knows when it may have happened, although the plug had to have been loose.  So all the contents were placed in trash bags and put out with the trash just before the pickup so no forest critters would be lured by the smell of rotting meat.

The freezer has been left open to hopefully get out the bad smell, then it will be thoroughly cleaned before we plug it back in.  This time the plug is going to have a strip of duct tape over it to keep it from happening again.  Hopefully.  Sigh.

On a happier note, I thought I'd share a few more cookbooks that are my favorites.  

My son and daughter-in-law gifted me with a Netflix app for my birthday in July and that is where I watched Salt Fat Acid Heat, one of the best cooking series I have ever watched.  It consists of only four shows but there is so much to learn, I could watch them over and over.  I've only watched them once so far. (Vee, is this the show that reminded you of An Everlasting Meal?)

So I was happy to see there is a cookbook by the same name.  It has come down in price a lot so I bought it for my son's Christmas gift (he does not read my blog) and I was tempted to keep it... but I won't.  It is seriously good, like having a cooking teacher in the kitchen with you.  My son is learning to cook so it will make a perfect gift for the science minded and the illustrations are so beautiful they are making some of them available as prints.

Honey & Jam by Hannah Queen has been my favorite baking book since it came out about four years ago.  It is hard to believe Hannah was only in her early twenties at the time.  This book has popped up as a favorite by world renowned cooks.  I'm not surprised for it is full of delicious recipes, given seasonally which I find helpful.

Hannah originally had a blog by the same name but stopped writing after her mother's sudden death in December around the same time her cookbook was published. We started corresponding when I suggested she contact Lanier, who had recently gone through something similar when her father died.  They are also both Georgia ladies, albeit Hannah lives in the northern Appalachian mountains of the state.

The recipes are delicious and the photography is beautiful. Not surprising as she is also a photographer.  I go to this book first when I want to try something new.  My favorite so far is her Cranberry Orange Cake, which I have made numerous times.

Farm From Home: A Year of Stories, Pictures, and Recipes from a City Girl in the Country is my next recommendation.  I know I've mentioned this book before which is part memoir with gorgeous photos and part recipe book.  It is pricier than the other books but it is worth it for those who love this genre.  Of course, I can say that since it was a gift.  ;)

My daughter gave this to me as a birthday gift, it has everything I love... recipes and a story about an American career woman who begins farming in England with her family.  It is exceptionally enjoyable reading (except when it first arrived, I could not see at all out of my right eye!).  I have not tried any of the recipes, yet. 

This has become my favorite cookbook for everyday home recipes.  It is the latest book by Lovina Eicher called The Essential Amish Cookbook.  I believe I recommended it when it first came out.  I followed the column written by Lovina's mom and was saddened when she passed away.  Lovina has written the column since then and now she is a grandmother (time does go by quickly).  

I was surprised to find out this was the first cookbook Lovina wrote alone, which is why it contains many of her favorite recipes.  The photographs are also beautiful (I do like cookbooks with photos or illustrations). I have a link to her weekly column on the sidebar.

So I leave you with these yummy recommendations.  I have to help clean out the freezer this afternoon.  Yet another sigh...

Mentioned in this Blog Post
Salt Fat Acid Heat - here.  The price has come down considerably since it was first offered.  If you have Netflix, do not miss her series by the same name!

Honey & Jam... here.

Farm From Home... here.

The Essential Amish Cookbook... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.  I thank you.  Very much.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

A Little Christmas Show and Tell

Every year it seems my favorite part of the decorating is the Christmas Tree.  I guess it is because so many of the ornaments have special meaning.  Here are some of the ornaments I enjoy.

A gift from my daughter, I think when she was in college.  There is a Mr. Snowman, too.
This lovely "teapot" was a gift from my daughter, too.  From one of her trips to England.
The stained glass ornaments were a gift from my mother soon after I was married.
The Christmas tree which blends in with the actual tree is this year's new addition.
One of my kids brought this home when they were little, it is card stock paper but I love it.
I bought this probably twenty years ago and it is still a favorite.

I will share more next week!