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Wednesday, December 21, 2016


This post is my way of sending all of you a Christmas card.  I want to thank all of you dear folks for  reading my blog, for without you, what would be the purpose of writing one?  It astounds me that you would take the time out of your busy days to read Hope and Thrift.  And it simply boggles my mind how many from all corners of the world read this blog.  I know that my long rambling posts must be a challenge to interpret, so my heart is filled with gratitude  for you!   And I'm grateful to all that leave me comments;    they spur me on, they encourage me, they're thought provoking.  I want you to know that I appreciate them immensely!  It's also encouraging to see the sort of little community that we have here.  How nice it is to see familiar names commenting on each others blogs.    I readily admit I don't have all the answers, but usually, there's someone out there that does.  I love that about blogging; we look out for each other, we pray for each other, we encourage each other.  So I want to leave you with a heartfelt thank you!  I hope that you have the merriest of Christmases!   

PS:  You will be happy to note that this will be the last of my posts for this year. I know that you will be busy attending to your celebrations, so I'm giving you a break. Ha!.   But to those alone and lonely, I'm here for you, if you need, just leave a comment and I'll get back to you on how to contact me privately.  I'll be back January 1st.  I'm so excited for the new year and starting over with a clean slate! Here's a hug to keep you!


Tuesday, December 20, 2016


"The twilight was falling slate-blue at the window.....Blue evening had fallen over the cradle of snow and over the great pallid slopes."
~D.H. Lawrence~

Happy day dear friends!  Today is the shortest day of the year.  Starting tomorrow the days will begin to lengthen and we will once again make that long turn back to Summer.   For those like me, that love Winter, I will rejoice in its arrival.

"Winter is a time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home."
~Edith Sitwell~

"In a way, winter is the real spring, the time when the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature."
~Edna O'Brien~

Monday, December 19, 2016


My dad grew up during the Depression.  He usually just received  a warm shirt or a pair of boots he needed for Christmas, but the one thing he looked forward to was getting candy from the mail-order catalog.  Way back then you could order a pail of assorted candy, which included hard pieces and chocolates, it was a real mixed bag.  He never got over the excitement of getting candy for Christmas.  When my sister was a teen, she worked at the dime store and  always brought home the first little white paper bag of seafoam and chocolate drops in early December when they received their first shipment of Christmas candies.  His excitement would build from then on,  as he studied the advertisements to get the biggest and best box of chocolates he could find.  And the box would be huge, at least five pounds.  He loved his candy.  Our church handed out grocery bags full of candy on Christmas Eve to all the children.  Dad reveled in being on the committee to fill the bags, always urging the gentleman that owned the store that donated the candy not to be so stingy with the chocolates.  Still to this day, the smell of hard candies mixed with peanuts brings me right back to five-years old on Christmas Eve. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!   So every Christmas, whether we need it or not, I make a batch of candy in honor of my father. 
English Toffee is quick to make up and uses basic ingredients.

English Toffee

1 C. butter
2 C. sugar
1/2 C. water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pkg, chocolate chips (I use milk chocolate but you can use semi-sweet if you prefer)

Combine butter, sugar and water in a heavy saucepan and cook to 285 degrees (or soft crack) on a candy thermometer.  Take off heat and stir in the vanilla.  Pour onto a buttered cookie sheet. Cool.  Melt the chocolate chips and spread over the toffee.  When chocolate hardens, break into pieces.  I sprinkled some chopped almonds on mine to jazz them up a bit.

Look what Ran brought home!
Neighbor Connie, informed him that she had spotted  a  stray kitten freezing in the neighborhood, so he  went hunting for it.  Poor thing was shivering uncontrollably, it was 1 degree out.  He stuck him or her (we don't know which) into his jacket and brought her home.  Reason  one-billion and thirteen why I love my husband!  Hopefully we will be able to find her a home soon because I'm getting attached to her.  Seeing our little strays interact with her is heartwarming.  They all were curious and came and sat right next to her. Little Jolly was the first to make friends and went up to her and touched noses.  Binks and Hissy couldn't be outshown so they did the same.  It breaks my heart to see all the strays, but I cannot take them all in, as it is now, I have more pets than the zoning  laws allow.  But what breaks my heart even more is thinking of homeless people out in this cold.  Please, please, please keep them in your prayers.

Sunday, December 18, 2016


Hello dear friends!  Today I traveled downstate to see the grandbabies  for Christmas, so today's post will be short and sweet. I'm tuckered out! Why is it that sitting six hours in a car is more tiring than a hard day's work?    You ever hear something so often that it becomes white noise?  I'm afraid that's me with the Nativity narrative in Luke.  I've heard it at least once a week during every Advent since I can remember.  After a while, I'm ashamed to say, it just went in one ear and out the other.  Then one December  I was listening to The Today Show or Good Morning America and I heard  Orson Welles read from the Bible and it was like I was hearing it for the first time.  I searched for a recording for ages, and although this is an earlier recording than what I heard, I think you might enjoy this.

Tomorrow I will have a better post, I promise!  Have a blessed December 19th!

Saturday, December 17, 2016


                             Tosha Seeholzer

                                                    The fourth week of Advent focuses on peace.

Peace I leave you with, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
~John 14:27 ~

He is my peace.
~Ephesians 2:14~

Friday, December 16, 2016


Growing up, part of the excitement of the Christmas season was choosing a Christmas dress, I miss that.  Today we all are so casual, no one ever gets gussied up and I think that's kind of sad.  Back in the day, formal wear was an essential part of our wardrobe, there were formal dances and Christmas pageants and many excuses to wear something  velvet.  Sigh!  We even got dressed up just to eat Christmas eve dinner and go to the midnight service.  Men wore suits and overcoats.  And they looked so handsome in their fedoras.  There were even racks that ran all along the wall of the vestibule in church for hanging them.  The women had their hair "done" at the beauty parlor and wore hats.  I'm sure those dear ladies would never dream of wearing leggings and cleavage baring tops, like many of the  gals do now days. Elderly ladies were dignified back then. They didn't try to look like youngsters.

Preparations for our Christmas dresses began in the Summer.  Back then, there were no thrift stores, but our church held a rummage sale once a year and it was a humdinger.  My mother always hunted for dresses donated by the "big shots", the captain's, doctor's and merchants' wives, that came from fancy New York department stores.  She would use the fabric, buttons  and trims to make our dresses.  She would also look for clothing made of good quality velvet and pretty lace to make collars and belts. No matter how hard the times were, we always had a Christmas dress.

When the Dime Store received their first shipment of Winter fabric, mother would be the first there to get the best selection.  Fabric came in "cuts" pre-cut pieces of various yardages.  We had to sort through large stacks to find matching cuts to obtain enough fabric.  Still to this day I remember a teal velvet dress with a pretty lace collar and one year a peppermint pink jumper with a striped blouse. Very Betsey McCall!   The only compliment I ever received from my grandmother was about a Christmas dress.  She had a stern Victorian upbringing and believed children should be seen and not heard, so it came as quite a shock to me when she  declared that I looked darling in my Christmas dress.  Until then, I didn't even think she noticed me except to tell me to take my elbows off the table. Ha!

And the midnight service will be  forevermore  entangled with the sound of rustling petticoats and the smell of freshly pressed wool.  For Christmas eve was a flurry of activity with pressing father's  suit, brushing his hat. polishing our shoes and starching petticoats into their scratchy stiffness.  Actually  preparations would begin the day before when my long hair was twisted into rag curls.  Anyone remember those?  You'd tie a rag at the top of your head, then coil the  hair along the long strip of cotton, usually torn from an old sheet,then you'd wrap the rag back up the hair and tie it on the top. They looked like large white cocoons hanging from our heads. 

All this to say, I miss the formality of olden days.  I miss when people thought getting dressed up was something to look forward to, rather than something to dread.  I miss the dignity people used to have then, even the poorest of poor would make an effort to look nice, even if it meant just starching their shirt extra stiff or  polishing their shoes.  It was a matter of self-respect and respect for others.  Recently I was listening to some podcasts about modesty and the ladies were saying that being concerned about how you dress is not modest.  I suppose that is true, but still I miss Christmas dresses.  Did you have Christmas dresses growing up?

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Now, I know you are going to think I'm as nutty as a fruitcake (Christmas reference there) but I love to wrap  Christmas presents.  When I was a youngster, I used to beg my mother to let me wrap them, which she gladly allowed.  When I got older, I dreamed of getting a job at the big department store, J.L. Hudsons, in the wrapping department.  I love picking out just the right paper  to fit the receiver's personality and the ribbon to go with it.  I like folding the corners into crisp little folds.  I love it!

I'm a firm believer that given the right wrapping paper and ribbons, you can make even an old shoe look like a treasure.  Confession is good for the soul and I must confess, that I'm guilty of buying less expensive gifts at Wal-Mart and Target and putting them in boxes from swankier stores and giving them to some of my harder-to-please  family members.  They never know the difference.  Appearances are everything to some people!  Here's how to fool fussbudgets:

Use a good box.  You can buy plain white boxes next to the wrapping paper.  Do not use just any old box.  Erma Bombeck used to do a skit about getting gifts from her mother in a rectal thermometer boxes.  DO NOT DO THAT!

Cushion the inside of the box with lots of tissue paper and do a proper job of folding the clothes before placing them in the box.

Don't skimp on the wrapping paper.  It's better to cut away extra than have it not go completely around the box.

Use real ribbon for the bows.  I collect interesting spools of ribbons at thrift stores throughout the year. They usually cost around a quarter and some are very nice cotton velvets and real silk.

Take time folding your corners and fold under the paper on the backside, so no cut edges show.

Clear the table and allow yourself a lot of room for cutting and wrapping.  Don't do it on a soft bed.

If wrapping Christmas presents annoys you, I think you might find this amusing. I hope you don't have this hard of a time with it!

Here's a picture of my $2.99 Nativity set I found yesterday:
It's cast metal and marked Italy.  Looks like it was used in one of those Putzes. And Baby Jesus' eyes are where they should be! I love to place Nativity scenes all over my house this time of year to remind me what the season is really about.

Some of my ninety-cent treasures from the Re-Use-It Center:

This teacup reminded me of a Scandinavian design  and the saucer underneath it will be used under one of my plants.  I purchased the vintage bottle brush tree (the vintage ones have wooden bases) from the same place early this year for five-cents (it was half-priced 😄)

I'm sorry, I'm a grandma, having silly little things like this snowman decorating my kitchen shelves is required! He's an incense burner.  He's missing his pipe, I'll have to fashion him another one, it would be quite comical to see smoke coming out of it.
The little snowman was part of the "haul" yesterday.  He's an old perfume bottle.  The bigger guy was from a past thrifting adventure (fifty-cents).
And this small three-inch pitcher that has the date 1901 etched into it.  I like these little ones for bud vases, because in spite of growing thousands of blooms, I never can bear to cut an entire bouquet. I also purchased a Fiesta ware teacup that I'll put some sort of goodie into for my son who has a collection of that china. And a vintage sewing book from the 1940s.  I love old sewing books and have quite a collection.  I  love to read them like others read novels. All in all, I think it was ninety-cents well spent and the money goes to a good cause.

Before I go, just wanted to let you know Blogger ate more comments. :(  I just want you to know that I read them and appreciated them immensely!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Hello dear friends!  Today my husband gave me my Christmas gift, a day!  Every year my family asks me what I'd like, but I just can't see the point in wasting money on buying something just for the sake of having something to put under the tree.  When I think of all that I could do with the price of that pretty sweater in Garnet Hill, or some  earrings from the Sundance catalog, well,  the specialness  of it wanes pretty quickly.  I can have a brand new sweater for $100 or buy 600 meals for the local food shelter for the same amount.  That makes the choice  pretty easy doesn't it?

So my husband gave me a day.  What's a day, you ask?  It's a day when he gives me his undivided attention.  It's a day when I get to enjoy myself the way I want to,  without any worries, without trying to please anyone else..   I chose to spend it going through the thrift stores in "the big city", window shopping, buying our Christmas sausage at our favorite butcher shop, and eating at my favorite fast food joint.  I gave myself a gift, by not worrying about counting calories!  Jamie, my son stayed home to tend the homefires and to watch our dog, Georgie, so for once, I wasn't rushed  to get back home.  I also gave myself  permission to spend a few dollars that I ordinarily wouldn't on some of my favorite food items; Gevalia's Peppermint Mocha Latte  K-cups and Thomas' cranberry English muffins.   And   a whopping ninety cents at the Re-Use It Center on a Fiesta teacup (a gift for someone else), another cute teacup, a ironstone saucer (to put under my plants) and two vintage Christmas items.  Teacups and china are ten cents there.  Oh!  And if you've read this blog for a while, you might remember how discouraged I was about finding a nice Nativity set.  Most of them are so cheaply made and garishly painted.  Is it so hard to paint Baby Jesus' eyes in the middle of his face?  Anyhoo,  I found a vintage, probably from the 1930s, Italian Nativity set at the Salvation Army for $2.99. 

When we returned home, Jamie had the house all straightened up and the ice candles lit to welcome us.  It was the perfect day, the perfect gift.  Hopefully, I'll get another "day" next Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Baby it's cold outside!  Whether it's the polar vortex or just plain old Winter, it's definitely chilly out there.  While the weather might not be great for strolling, it's fantastic for making ice candles.
To make, you simply place a bucket (any size you desire, we used 3 gallon buckets) filled with water outside overnight.  The next day just turn it over and out slips the ice.  It forms a little well where you can place a candle.  We make enough to line our front walk.  It's a nice natural way to decorate for the season.  Ice candles are part of our family tradition, traditions are so important to continue.  They connect us to those have gone before us and to those that come after. 

Another way to connect to your heritage is to serve foods from your family's background, like these  aebelskivers.  We like to serve ours with lingonberry  sauce and sugar.  Christmas is the perfect time  to celebrate the cultures that make us who we are. When you consider how many different combinations of ethnicities  we can have, you can appreciate the uniqueness of each and every one of us.   I'm a Heinz-57 myself, a combination of Dutch, German, Swiss, English, French and Norwegian ancestry.  What are you?

Monday, December 12, 2016


If you're like I am, there's always people you'd like to give a little token of friendship to at Christmas, but money is tight, so here's some little gifts that are quick to make and don't break the budget.

Sugar Scrub

Combine 2 cups of sugar with 1/4 C. of coconut oil and if you want, 1/2 tsp. of your favorite essence oil.  Put into a pretty jar that you have either saved throughout the year or one like this little apothecary one  that I purchased at the dollar store.  Tie it with a ribbon and a label telling what it is. These cute little chalkboard labels are from Dollar General. (I couldn't find any chalk to write with).  This is used for hands and body, but  for a  nice foot scrub use oil of peppermint, it's invigorating.

Sugared-Cinnamon Nuts

1 egg white
1 tsp. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 C. nuts of your choice
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease it.

Beat the egg white until stiff peaks form, then add the water and vanilla and beat again.  Add the nuts and coat them with the egg whites.

In another bowl combine the remaining ingredients and mix into the nuts. Spread the nuts onto your jelly roll pan and bake at 250 degrees, turning every 15 minutes  for an hour or until the nuts feel dry.  You can experiment by using different extracts in place of the vanilla and by omitting the cinnamon.  Maple extract would be good with pecans and so would butter and  rum extract. 

I put mine in those little goodie bags that you can find at dollar stores and  tie them with a piece of jute or raffia and tuck a piece of greenery in.  Another idea would  be to put some in a cute Christmas mug.

Just a Small Box of Cookies

You don't have to bake dozens upon dozens of cookies, just a small amount, say half a dozen, makes a sweet gift if they are presented in a cute little box or tin.  Use those adorable mini cupcake papers to hold each cookie and fill the box with plain white tissue paper.  I like to keep these on hands for unexpected guests.   Here's my new go-to Christmas cookie recipe, it's so versatile:

Simple Butter Cookies

1 C. butter
1/2 C. confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp. butter extract
1 1/4 C. flour
1/2 C. cornstarch

Cream butter and sugar together.  Stir in extract.  Stir in remaining ingredients. Shape dough into  1-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool. Frost with:

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. milk or cream
1 1/2 C. confectioners' sugar.
Beat together until smooth

By changing the extract and the flavor of the frosting you can make several different types of cookies from this recipe.  I made eggnog cookies by using rum extract and adding a pinch of nutmeg.  I rolled these in confectioners' sugar  while they were warm rather than frosting them.  Peppermint extract and peppermint frosting is dandy too.  Or maybe maple and brown sugar frosting.

Old-fashioned fudge  is another perennial favorite,  a little goes a long way, presented in the same way as the cookies. BTW, if any of you are unmarried this is fantastic boy bait! Ha!

Homemade Milled Soap

I packaged the coffee cake soaps that I wrote about in November in little cellophane bags and tied them with some Alpine-type ribbon trim.  Make sure you label them as soap! There's still time to make some and have them cured if you start today.
I also placed some in a vintage individual jelly molds that can be found at many thrift stores.  Another use for those little molds is to make candles.
You can purchase wicks pre-made from the craft stores inexpensively and I melt down the remnants from larger jar-type candles for the wax.  I confess that I buy these type of candles used from garage sales throughout Summer for this very purpose.  These make cute little tuck-in hostess presents. And are really cute lined up on a wooden trencher, if you are into rustic type decor.  And I guess it's a better use of a jello mold than lime gelatin and cottage cheese!

Sunday, December 11, 2016


Hello dear friends!  I must apologize, I had intended to write a post for today on a Christmas how-to, but then my grandson called and wanted to Skype and after that the snow was beckoning me.  Snowfall at twilight is perhaps the most enchanting sight on Earth;  that  pale lavender light that creeps along the pure and untrodden snow, the soft amber glow inside from candles and fairy lights.  If ever I could capture  a moment and preserve it, it would be these moments, for surely this is what Heaven must be.

Today I went out and  photographed our little village in it's wintry glory.  If you cannot visit me in person, perhaps you can be with in me in spirit. 
The lanes have not been plowed.  Sometimes it feels as if we have stepped into another era, everything is so peaceful and quiet here.
Our village is fortunate to have two lovely old-fashioned churches,  steepled,  white and serene.  Wednesday Advent services, Sunday church, bazaars, and choir concerts make them the two busiest buildings in the entire village this time of year. The bells ringing out the hours into the quietude is one of the things I love most about village life. 
And of course there is always the lake, which is more like a sea.  We take great pride in our hardiness, for to live so close to nature, one must be hardy. The wind that streaks down the miles of icy expanse is not for the faint of heart or the feeble of body.
The Garfield Inn just around the corner is painted in Christmas colors of red and green.  Snow suits it.
To get to this grandmother's house you must go over the river and through the woods.  This is the creek behind our house, already starting to freeze over.
Here we have one of our handful of businesses, closed for the season, as are most of the businesses.  In the winter you can literally shoot a  cannonball down main street and not hit a car.  Sometimes it feels as though we are the last people on Earth.  Our population shrinks from seven-hundred in the Summer to around two-hundred in the Winter.

We have lots of pretty Victorian and colonial-style homes in the village.  This one always reminds me of the Bing Cosby's inn from the movie  Holiday Inn

My garden is asleep until May.  Many people have inquired if we intend to move South for the Winter.  How could I ever give up so much serenity and beauty for the sake of keeping warm? I should hope that I never grow that old and cynical.  To me, Christmas  in the village is pure bliss. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016


 The third week of Advent focuses on joy, for our Lord has come.  And Heaven and nature sing!

                                        “Good news from heaven the angels bring,
                                          Glad tidings to the earth they sing:
                                          To us this day a child is given,
                                          To crown us with the joy of heaven.”
                                                     ~Martin Luther~

First Peter 1:8-9 “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”


Psalm 28:7 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”


Friday, December 9, 2016


I Will Keep Christmas

I will keep Christmas in the cold hedgerow,
With red shining holly and winter snow.
I will keep Christmas far from any town
On the frosted side of the windswept down.

Stars will be candles of sweet silver fire,
Swinging at midnight over tree and spire.
Waves will be booming bells and break the air,
With glory and greeting and winged prayer.

I will keep Christmas alone and away,
Praising the Lord of all on Christmas Day.
~P. A. Ropes ~

Thursday, December 8, 2016


Julia of Hooked on Houses wrote this wonderful post about Gladys Taber being the inspiration for Barbara Stanwyck's  character, Elizabeth Lane, in Christmas in Connecticut.
I thought that since many of you are Gladys Taber fans, as I am, you might enjoy seeing these clippings I saved from  from the one of the  women's  magazines circa 1940s  or 50s.   Here's a picture of Gladys with her family on Christmas Eve:
Gladys is the one standing on the right.

And here is her menu for a Christmas Eve Supper:

Seafood Stillmeadow
Curry Rice
Lime Cottage -Cheese Ring
Baking-Powder Biscuits
Currant Jelly
Fruit Compote
Sugar Cookies ~ Lebkuchen
Here's the text that went with the article:

Your friend and mine, Gladys Taber, is about as good and example of the woman who writes herself into her work as any woman I know.  Her integrity is intact, her product is uncracked and unchipped.  And she proves it by every word she writes, simple, direct, a word you wouldn't change, for no better word exists. She's as modern as yesterday's new moon.  If it is new, Gladys has one modern streak that stands out like a sore thumb. She has such delicacies for Christmas Eve as seafood.  And she named her dish after her home - "Sea Food Stillmeadow"

She goes in for cottage-cheese ring, I'm glad.  I love cottage cheese. Fancy fruit compote and cookies, the old-time Lebkuchen, (What can you do with a girl like that?) Well, it's supper, not dinner. That's the modernity, I spoke of.  If there's a turkey around, it's being saved for Christmas dinner.  But I've picked out a receipt or two for you from Gladys' menu for Christmas supper. (Planned for  6-8.) My blessings be upon you.

Sea Food Stillmeadow

Remove any pieces of bone from 6 1/2-ounce can crab meat. Take 2 cans of shrimp, drained or 1 1/2  pounds, shelled, cooked and cleaned fresh shrimp. Pour 2 cans mushroom soup into a saucepan, add the crab meat, the shrimp, one 10 1/2-ounce minced clams and one 4-ounce can mushrooms.  Add 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.  The liquid in the mushrooms and the clams will dilute the soup, but if it is still too thick, add a little cream.  Have it a little thicker - only a little - than heavy cream.  The kind we used to skim off the old tin milk pans.  Do you remember such? Season with salt,  pepper and paprika.  Simmer until well heated and smooth. Serve hot on curry rice.

Curry Rice
Have ready a big bowl of rice with a drift of curry and chunks of butter on top.

Lime Cottage-Cheese Ring

Dissolve 2 packages lime-flavored gelatin in 3 3/4 cups boiling water.  Add 1/4 cup lemon juice or vinegar as soon as gelatin dissolves.  Cool to syrupy consistency.   Add 2 cups cottage cheese and 1/2 cup silvered blanched almonds.  Pour into a ring mold.  Chill until set.  This fills a 1 1/2 quart ring mold.  When turned out, arrange a lettuce cup in the center and fill with mayonnaise. Cut slices of pimento into petal shape.  Make a poinsettia on top of mayonnaise with pimento.

Fruit Compote

Provide your handsomest glass bowl (china one would do). The one Great-aunt Mehitabel gave you, with sighs of regret, the time you took off and got married.  Remember?  Arrange a variety of fruits to fill the bowl - say, 2 grapefruit, peeled and sectioned; 2 pears, peeled, cored and sliced; 3 oranges, peeled and sectioned; a package of frozen pineapple chunks and a can of apricot halves, juice and all; and 1/2 pound of red grapes, seeded. Let the fruits marinate in the fruit sirups [sic]  several hours in the refrigerator.  Serve with Christmas cookies.

I hope you enjoyed this blast from the past.  Isn't it amusing how things, such as  lime cottage-cheese rings, were considered modern?  And how daring it was not to serve turkey for Christmas eve?  I adore Gladys, but personally I think I would have been a little queasy after her Christmas Eve supper.  But if you would like to serve this for your Christmas Eve supper, Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
~Winston Churchill~ 

 This time of year my mail box is overflowing with request to give money to so many wonderful charities.  The only thing that truly bothers me about being poor is not being able to just write a check to each one.  But December is not a month that finds our coffers very full, what with taxes, heating and this year extra health cost, we are probably the ones in need of charity. Ha!  But I still like to do something.  So here's some ways to give charity when your pockets are empty:

Invite a lonely  person to dinner.
Babysit for that harried mom, free of charge, of course.
Get a group together and sing Christmas carols at your local senior housing.
Shovel your elderly neighbor's driveway.
Knit or crochet for a charity. (The Girl Scouts have a Mitten Tree around here)
Volunteer to work in a soup kitchen.
Volunteer to take the holiday shift at work so others can be home.
Offer to drive someone that cannot to church or to the store.
Donate your used things to charities such as the Salvation Army.
If you have a special skill, offer to teach it for free.

In other words, just being aware of others' needs and trying to find a way to help.  Even small things like being  cheerful and smiling instead of scowling go a long way toward spreading goodwill. 

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.
~Hamilton Wright Mabie~ 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


When I was a child, back when wolves still roamed throughout England, as Dylan Thomas would say, the day we put up the Christmas tree was one of the most anticipated days of the year.  Country  folks never spent "good money" on them, we all knew someone with a few acres that we cut one for free.  Unfortunately, the pretty,  nice trees were not to be touched, so we all had what we call swamp pines; twiggy, ornery, twisted unlovely trees that grew begrudgingly in the swamps and ditches. 

The very act of getting the stump into the stand was the first hurdle, for the tree always leaned and the trunks were always crooked.  After much sweat and I dare say swearing, my father would finally wrestle the tree into the stand and get it to stand at least half-way straight.  Next step was to get it into the house, which involved a lot of knocking pictures off walls and causing the tree to lose half of its sparse needles.  After that there would be a big debate about which side was the best and which was to be turned toward the wall.

Lights came next.  No one ever thought to put them away  neatly, so first order was to untangle the yards and yards of cord.  The bulbs were big and got hot. Really hot, like second degree burns if you touched them hot.  And back then engineers hadn't figured out how to wire them so the bulbs stayed on if one burnt out.  You had to go through each bulb and unscrew them and put in a replacement to find the clinker.  And woe to the person that used a blinker!   The blinking action wouldn't start right away, the lights had to warm up first, so many a times half the lights were strung on the tree before it was discovered that you had a blinking light bulb. Then you had to take off the lights and hunt for the dreaded blinker. And the plugs were like everything made post-war, big and heavy and made for utility.  Trying to hide them in the skimpy branches was a challenge.

By this time our parents were exhausted and the idea of a cozy evening by the fire decorating the tree had long flown out the window.  Ornaments were given over to the children to hang, which resulted in most being hung as high as a seven-year-old's reach.  It wasn't until we had finished hanging the last ornament that someone would discover that we hadn't put the angel on top.  Dad would climb up a ladder and reach into the tree, knocking off a third of the ornaments and making the tree list further to the right.

The final step was tinsel.  People don't use tinsel anymore, but back in the day of swamp pines with big gaping holes it was   a necessity.  We bought cartloads that had to be strung one strand at a time and draped just so over each branch.  Well, at least for the first hour of tinsel-applying,  after that it was thrown on by handfuls and we called it a day. 

Then we'd stand back and admire the tree,  the most beautiful sight we had ever seen.  By the end of the week, half the needles will have fallen off, but for one brief moment it was magical.

And that is why, dear younger-than-mes, when people wax poetically about real trees, I just sit back and enjoy my faux tree  No sweating, no swearing, no tinsel. And no sweeping up needles until Memorial Day!

Now this is a Christmas tree! 

Monday, December 5, 2016


Ugly Christmas sweater parties are popular, here's a way to use the sweater after the party.  Make it into a pillow.  To make simply measure the size you want the pillow to be, mark  it out on the front and back of the sweater, using the pattern to it's best advantage. Sew around the outline and cut out. You should use a tight enough tension so that  the stitches are close enough together so the sweater does not unravel. With the right sides facing each other, sew around three sides just inside of the previous sewn line. Stuff the pillow and hand sew up the open side to close the pillow.  I think cardigans make sweet pillows when you leave the buttons on and just sew the placket closed.  Children's sweaters can be made into cute heart-shaped ornaments.  It would a great way  to keep the memories. Maybe a sweater from baby's first Christmas?  I just spied a similar pillow in the Garnet Hill catalog that had pom-poms attached to all four corners. The price was unbelievable! (as is everything in Garnet Hill)

Here's how the pillow looks on our window seat on our upstairs landing:
That Lone Star quilt was a bargain because it had a stain, but I just strategically folded it so it doesn't show.  I always say if you have friends that look for imperfections like stains or if it bothers them, you need new friends! 


Hello dear friends!  Blogger ate my comments.  So I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate them.  Isabella, the banner comes from Victorian Trading and can be found here.  Pretty good deal for a galvanized sign, I think!  BTW, we had beautiful snow last night! Beautiful big fluffy flakes.  Reminds me of a Currier and Ives illustration.  Unfortunately, most has melted by this morning, but at least we now know that the skies are capable of producing snow.  Maybe I won't have to just dream of a white Christmas.


Sunday, December 4, 2016


There's nothing thrifty about December here, that's for sure.  With property taxes, car license, driver's license, and even the dog is taxed, money is out the door as soon as it arrives.  And then there's all the parties and presents.  One fun way to exchange gifts is to have a good old-fashioned Yankee swap.  Here's how it works:
Each guests brings a inexpensive wrapped gift based on a chosen theme.  I think a fun girls night out theme would be Christmas brooches.  Number  pieces of paper for the total number of  guests and put them in a bowl or hat.  Pass the bowl or hat around and each person draws one number.  The person that draws #1 gets to choose and open any gift.  Person #2  chooses and opens a gift and then decides if they want to keep it or exchange it for the gift #1 has opened. Proceed on opening and trading until you come to the last person to open a present.  That person has the choice of all the opened gifts.  I think this would work well for a large family, provided they could all agree on a theme.  Board games, specialty foods, gift certificates to fast food places, and  dollar store gag gifts, are some of the themes I have come up with.  Books for a book club might be fun.

A thrifty way to decorate your porch to greet your guests is to put those inexpensive battery operated candles in various mason and glass jars.  Looks so pretty, especially with the snow falling.

This is the season that we have goodie days at work and clubs.  I like to bring something savory to counteract all the sweets.

Pineapple Smokies

1 C. brown sugar
1 C. pineapple juice
3 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. mustard
1/3 C. white vinegar
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 lbs. miniature smoked sausages

Combine the brown sugar, mustard and flour.  Gradually stir in the liquids.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir until sauce begins to thicken.  Add sausages and heat through.  These are good to keep hot in a crock pot and can be made ahead of time.


Saturday, December 3, 2016


The second week of Advent focuses on hope.  Did you know that the Bible has two meanings for the word "hope"?  One, tiqvah, means to anticipate, such as "I hope that we have a White Christmas".  The second, elpis, depicts a confident expectation  based upon certainty. We have blessed assurance that God is faithful to His promises.   We have elpis.

Peace and Hope

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:1-11

O Holy Night!  The night of our dear Savior's birth.  Through Him we shall have eternal life.  This Christmastide I  wish you all hope, peace and love born from faith that our Messiah lives and we wait joyfully  for His return.


PS:  People have asked me why I always sign off with "hugs".  Somewhere, a long, long time ago, I read what I thought was a Bible verse to greet your friends and enemies with an embrace.  After a long search, I could find no such verse. But it's a good policy, I think.  And besides, who doesn't need a hug? 

Friday, December 2, 2016


Christmas cookies and happy hearts, this is how the holiday starts!

Every year I announce that I am not going to bake so many cookies this Christmas.  With a doctor's appointment looming at the beginning of the new year,  I'm always mentally tabulating calories in my head throughout the month of December.  But then my husband says, "Well just the favorites" and then I spot something irresistible on a website or blog and the next thing you know, I'm buying more tins to store all those cookies.  This year I drew the line at two pounds of butter, when it's gone,that is it for  baking.  Do you know that there are a lot of cookies that don't require butter? Ha! Oh well!  There's always next year!

One cookie that is always on our menu is Eggnog Logs.  I've been baking them for over thirty years, they've become a tradition.. 

Eggnog Logs

3 C. flour
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 C, butter
3/4 C. sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. rum extract
rum frosting  (recipe follows)

Combine flour and nutmeg. Set aside.
Beat together butter and sugar. Beat in egg and flavorings.  Add flour mixture and combine well.
Shape dough into 3 -inch logs 1/2-inch wide.  Place on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool.

Rum Frosting
3 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. rum extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla
approximately 2C. confectioners' sugar
2 - 3 tbsp. milk

Beat together to make a thick frosting
Spread frosting over top of cookies. Mark frosting with tines of fork to resemble bark.  Sprinkle with additional nutmeg to resemble birch bark. (I use green sprinkles, thus ruining the effect, but I'm not that crazy about nutmeg)

See those pretty little pink cookies on the bottom left hand side?  They are a new-to-me recipe for this year and can be found here. Peppermint Meltaways are destined to be a tradition! 

Thursday, December 1, 2016


Here is a beautiful quote that I want to share with you.  Pretty  much sums it all up doesn't it?     

“This Christmas mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love, and then speak it again."
~Howard W. Hunter~

Merry December 2nd!


Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Deck the halls with boughs of holly!  If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably know that I love to decorate. And Christmas is one of my favorite holidays,  but I also can pinch a penny until it squeals,  so I thought I'd show you a few ways that I deck our halls for pennies.

Simple greens cut from trees and bushes in the yard, placed in plain white ironstone cups, mugs and pitchers are placed throughout our home.

I wanted something celebratory   for our guest's room so I found a twig in the yard, placed it in a crock and hung cheap snowflake ornaments  from the dollar store on it. It has an almost Shaker simplicity that matches the decor of the room.

Rose hips and other berries are hung from knobs.  Caution: some berries are poisonous so keep out of the reach of babies and naughty  inquisitive pets.
If you can avail yourself to a lot of them, they make a pretty, albeit  prickly natural wreath.

 Tie birch bark around clear glass jars with jute or raffia for a simple wintry votive. 
And old family ornaments that are too delicate to hang on the tree spend their retirement in old crock bowls. Here's a blog that I find inspiring.  Such beautiful vignettes. 

Lois Lenski wrote this about observing the customs and traditions of Christmas,  "One of the best ways to fight evil is to spread beauty.".

  Happy first day of December!  Hope to see you tomorrow!