Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Time's a comin!

Up north here there's a radio station that plays Christmas music every day from Thanksgiving through Christmas Day - and every night they do a special called "This Is Christmas." They feature Christmas songs from different years, and they tell some of the highlights of the year. One night I heard Christmas Time's A Comin' by Johnny Cash.
I started to think about what I like most about Christmas, about memories of Christmases past, what I'm doing now to prepare for Christmas, and what I'm looking forward to this year.

I love lots of things about Christmas:

  • Music - last weekend we went to hear John Berry sing, and he sang My Heart is Bethlehem. It's a great song - the message is something we need to remember all year long. We need to invite Jesus to come in to our hearts.  Of course, there are lots and lots of Christmas songs that I love. I love singing Christmas carols at church, and humming to songs on the radio.
  • Lights - I've always loved driving around on a winter night, looking at houses decorated with lights for Christmas. I remember riding with my mom and dad to look at the houses on "the Drive" and there was always this one house that had music playing and lots of lights and decorations. When I was little I loved to fall asleep in the living room with the Christmas all lit up. And my own kids always slept in the living room on Christmas Eve, with the tree lit.
  • Christmas cookies - my mom and I always made Melting Moments. We usually just made powdered sugar frosting (powdered sugar and milk) and colored the frosting pink and mint green. My daughter, Carrie, and I have continued the tradition. We've also had fun trying new recipes too. There were several years where I joined a group of women to bake cookies together. It was a cookie exchange with the added fun of spending an evening together making and decorating cookies.
  • Family - one of the best things about Christmas is just being together with family. When I was growing up  we'd wait and wait on Christmas Eve for my dad to come home from work so that we could open our presents. He'd finally get home.... but then we'd have to wait some more until he got his presents wrapped. We'd read the Christmas story from the Bible, and I'd play a song on the piano. Then we could open presents. Afterwards we'd drive over  to my grandma and grandpa's house  for supper and the evening. My cousins would be there, as well as some great aunts and uncles. It seemed like my grandma used every dish in her house for supper, and of course the dishes needed to be washed before we could open gifts! But it would finally be time, and one of us kids got to hand out gifts. We'd take turns opening so that everyone could watch what others were getting. There were silly gifts from Santa (really from my grandma) and homemade gifts. My grandma and aunts brought out treats - pecan pie, fudge, Christmas cookies of all kinds, divinity, and much more. Then we'd gather around the piano, my Aunt Lorraine would play Christmas music, and we'd all sing. When my grandma got sick and couldn't host Christmas any more I took over. By this time I was married and had kids of my own. The traditions have changed over the years, but the good feeling of spending the day with family has remained to this day. In fact, my kids have said this year that some of their best memories are having the whole family around the table for dinner, sharing food and stories and laughter and love.

  • Games - for a lot of years we'd go over to Craig's parents' house for Christmas day. My mother-in-law would spend a lot of time choosing and wrapping gifts for the Dice Game. Our kids loved trying to win the 2-liter bottles of pop. It was a fun Christmas tradition. A couple of years ago the boys brought out a new card game called Wizard and we all had fun learning to play it. Last year my oldest son got a John Deere board game, Through the years we've played lots of games at Christmas time - pictionary, cranium, banangrams, to name just a few. I wonder what games we'll play this year?
  • Christmas Stockings - when I was little my mom bought me a stocking made by a neighbor lady. It's a knitted stocking with Santa on it. My brother got one too and we used them every year. When I married Craig he got a matching stocking - made by the same lady - and as our family grew, each of our kids got one. Those stockings have seen a lot of use. Some are getting pretty tattered but each year when I get them out they bring back a flood of good memories. My daughter is especially fond of the Christmas stocking tradition - and she's starting it with her own family.
But the very best thing about Christmas is - Christ!  

John 1:14 says,

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

Jesus came to earth because God loves us so much. (John 3:16) He loves you and He loves me. Jesus came to earth and the angels rejoiced. Jesus came to earth, and died and rose again to save us from our sins, to restore our relationship with God, to offer us eternal life with Him. All we need to do is accept His gift - give up our lives so that we can truly live. 
Don't miss the best part of Christmas this year, the best gift you can ever, ever, ever receive. Is you heart Bethlehem today?

My Heart Is Bethlehem - John Berry

Eternity stepped into time,
And drew a mortal breath.
Mystery so clearly seen
The world could not forget
That in the town of Bethlehem,
In the most unlikely place,
God, the father wore
A child's face.

There's something in the heart of God,
So purely meek and mild
That finds its best expression in
The longings of a child.

For every child's heart is hungry,
To be found and loved and known
A someone who would make their heart a home.

My heart is Bethlehem
I will make room for him.
This humble dwelling place
Made worthy by his grace.

This child is still adored,
Because he still is born
Deep in the hearts of men,
(To love and not condemn)
My heart is Bethlehem

I wish for you this Christmas Eve,
That you would find true peace.
But silent nights are holy nights
And wonders never cease.

There's no remembering,
The ghost of Christmas past
For God's forgiveness finds your heart at last.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rigatoni Hotdish

Last night I made an easy rigatoni hot dish - and it was so good, that I decided to share the recipe.

1/2 - 1 lb. Italian sausage (depending on how much meat you want in the hot dish)
1/2 box rigatoni noodles
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jar Ragu Spaghetti Sauce (I used Chunky Ragu with tomato, garlic & onion)
2 cups shredded cheese - I used a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella

Cook rigatoni noodles according the the directions on the box. Meanwhile, brown Italian sausage, onions, green pepper and garlic. Add jar of spaghetti sauce and simmer until the noodles are done.
Rinse noodles and add to meat mixture.

Preheat oven to 350.
Lightly grease 9x13 pan.
Pour meat, noodles and sauce mixture into pan. Spread shredded cheese on top. Bake for 50 minutes or until cheese is lightly golden brown.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Finally - A Craft Closet

It's been a while since I've blogged...we've been pretty busy. Our daughter, son-in-law and grandson lived with us for two months after they moved back to the States and I soaked up the time with them, knowing that they'd be starting a life apart from us soon. Mardo got a job, they found an apartment, and they got a car. So we helped them move about 140 miles away. And while I am happy for them, and I know that they need to continue on the life God's planned for them, I am also a bit sad.  It's pretty quiet here without them. I miss my grandson meeting me after work, saying "Nana!" I miss the talks and shared chores with Carrie. I miss the steadiness and gentleness of my son-in-law as well as his music and creativeness. I miss shared meals and card games on the weekends.
However, the past couple of weeks have also been happy ones - as Craig and I readjust to having the house to ourselves. I enjoy time spent with my husband. We have some projects planned. We have been sharing dreams and hopes. We've watched football and hockey games together, worked on our Bible study lessons and just spent time together in the family room with a fire in the wood stove.
Some of our talks have centered around the holidays, and how much we are looking forward to spending time with all our children and grandchildren. We talk about how thankful we are for our boys - now men - and how proud we are of who they've become... their good hearts, their generosity, their good work ethics, etc. We love our daughter-in-law and one who will become our daughter-in-law next fall. We love and cherish our other grandchildren, marvel at how quickly they're growing up, and wish we could see them more.
You're probably wondering - what does this blog have to do with the title, "Finally - A Craft Closet"?
Well, I'll get to the point. For a long time (years, in fact) I've wanted to finish the closet in the guest bedroom and make it my craft closet. I've wanted a real craft closet, a place to store all my craft supplies (and I have a lot, I admit) where I can easily get to them and find what I need. There just always seemed to be other projects with a higher priority. When Carrie, Mardo and Micah moved into their own place I decided it was time for a craft closet makeover. I talked with Craig, and he agreed to help me.
I wish I had a "before"picture. I guess you'll just have to take my word for it that it was pretty bad. I think I'll let pictures do the rest of the "talking." I still want to organize my supplies a bit better, and I need to arrange the room... but I love my new craft closet! I have to say thanks to my husband, Craig, for all his help. He even put a light in the closet with a light switch outside the door!

Finally, here's a peek at my newest furniture piece - my craft island. I plan to paint it to coordinate with the room. It's on wheels, so it moves easily, and has a towel bar a paper towel bar. I'm thinking I could use those to hang other things using S hooks... like a glue gun or embossing gun maybe?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

An Apple Orchard Today...

An Apple Orchard today was good medicine.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here's our day in pictures.

Sweet Tango Trail

Don't you just love this little fox? (Our grandson, Micah)

Thanks, Carrie and Mardo, for letting me use some of your pictures in this post, and for coming with us to the orchard.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014



Listening … our grandson say "Nana" and "oh-oh"

Watching ... our grandson walk around and around the kitchen island, the dining room table, the st
airway in between the dining room and living room, around the couch.... basically around anything he can get around

Eating … hummus with roasted peppers, and pretzel thins

Drinking... Diet Coke 

Wanting … to be content in every circumstance

Needing … to get more sleep

Thinking … I am so blessed to be married to my best friend

Wishing ... summer wasn't over; wishing I had the money to help my kids more; wishing I could be home more

Your turn - What are you currently doing?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

DIY Paperweights

Last year we remodeled our kitchen. In the process I ended up with several samples of granite and solid surfaces. So tonight I decided to make paperweights out of them. I used my Silhouette machine to cut some words out of vinyl. After sticking the words on the squares, I glued felt on the back using E6000 glue.
So easy - and so cute!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Survival Kits

Last week the teachers all came back to school for workshop week. We had 15 new employees, so I decided to make something to give them as a fun welcome gift. After searching for ideas on Pinterest, I decided to make survival kits.
Of course, I didn't get a picture of the final product - but here is the card I put with each gift.

I found plastic pencil boxes at Wal-Mart, and put all the items from the list in the boxes.

I made special boxes for the new secretaries.