Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Savoring the Season

Saturday, the day after we celebrated Thanksgiving, this wreath, made by Bishop for me two years ago, was hung. And Sunday the first candle of the Advent wreath was lit.
We are greatly anticipating the arrival of Christmas.
Even then, we like to ease into the festivities.
We decorate progressively. We put up the Nativity in a progressive manner. We let the great story of Christmas unfold slowly, a little bit each day and each evening of Advent.
We try to savor it.

However, there are events on the calendar and activities we just enjoy trying to fit in.
So that we might stand a chance of doing those things while savoring each moment of the Christmas season I make lists and tentative plans.
This is what we are fully committed to doing during this time:
-Maceo, with his choir, will perform in a Christmas concert. He has a small solo - very exciting!
-Maceo, with his acting troupe, will give a Christmas performance.
-Maceo's troupe will have a holiday party.
-Bishop, with his cub scout troop, will march in the Christmas parade.
-We will celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary!
-We will work at the food pantry.

This is what we hope to include:
-celebrate St. Nicholas Day and the Feast of St. Lucy.
-celebrate Hanukkah.
-make gingerbread houses.
-make cookies and candies.
-deliver goodies to our neighbors.
-have the cub scouts over for milk and cookies.
-feed the birdies.
-make cinnamon and applesauce ornaments.
-make epsom salt votives.
-make luminarias.
-see A Christmas Story at the community theatre.
-see a new movie at the theater as a family.
-have a family movie night at home to watch Christmas classics.
-and, of course, decorate the Christmas tree as a family.

This last item I hope to do tomorrow evening, reminiscing about Christmases past while munching on sugar cookies and sipping hot chocolate.

I look forward to each activity on the list yet, I have learned, to be flexible, to let some things go, if necessary, so that each moment can simply be savored!

A Final Look

Advent has begun, the Christmas decorations are starting to come out of their boxes, and the Christmas notebook is filling up with lists and ideas.
I have put away all the Thanksgiving decorations except for the gratitude tree.
I am hesitating to disassemble it; I am so enjoying the grateful sentiments noted on each card.
I want to make sure that a sense of gratitude has truly made its way in to the deepest parts of my spirit. I believe that it will help me experience true gratitude for the gift of Jesus Christ, whose birth we are preparing to celebrate. I believe it will help me to stay focused on His gifts of grace and mercy. And, I believe, that it will help me share that gift, even in some small way, with those around me.
I am so richly blessed
and I am grateful!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Our Thanksgiving day has arrived.
Dad has made it home safely and a day of fun and feasting has been planned.

We always begin the day with munchies to graze on, in lieu of breakfast and lunch,
while awaiting the Thanksgiving feast.

This years munch and graze menu included cinnamon rolls, cheese, summer sausage and crackers, gingersnaps and pumpkin dip, fresh blackberries and grapes, and whole nuts.

I also set out hot tea, hot apple cider and orange juice.
I find it quite amazing that, even after all these years, I have not managed to acquire a nice pitcher. Yet, I also find it amazing how special a plastic pitcher filled with juice can seem when set upon a silver tray alongside etched glassware.
It makes me smile.
Finally, the table is set and the feast is on but my guys must first humor me by allowing me to take a picture before they dig in. (It's a tradition, I can't help myself).
The feast consisted of turkey, giblet gravy, mashed potatoes, a regular bread stuffing, a cornbread dressing, broccoli with cheese sauce, green bean casserole, cranberry relish, rolls, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and apple pie a la mode.
It was delicious and there are ample leftovers for the days to come.

I managed to get this rather silly picture of Maceo...

...while I was trying to get this picture of Christian.

And here is my youngest looking nearly grown.
I love family mealtime!
I love Thanksgiving!
And there is so much to be grateful for!

From the grateful tree...
Herb: Thankful for my family and my country.
Bishop: Mom and Dad. YouTube.
Maceo: Pie.
Christian: Football, entertaining classes and a good family.
Me: (well, I hung six tags on the tree)...
1) First and foremost, I am grateful for God's grace, mercy and forgiveness. I am also so very grateful for his faithfulness and provision. I am blessed! Thank you, God!
2) I am grateful to have a husband who is so absolutely devoted to his family. I am thankful for his willingness to sacrifice his own comfort in order to provide for his family. I will never take his provision for granted. I am blessed! Thank you, Herb!
3) I am grateful to have a son who has grown up to be an intelligent young man of character. I am thankful that he routinely dialogues with me allowing me to share my experience and thoughts with him while he shares his wealth of knowledge with me. I learn so much and am so blessed! Thank you, Christian!
4) I am grateful to have a daughter who is courageous enough to pursue her dreams even though it has taken her far from family. I am thankful that God, in His wisdom, placed friends from our town in the same new city as her and that they were able to spend Thanksgiving together. I love and miss you, Keegan, and I am so blessed to have you as my daughter!
5) I am grateful to have a son who will share his childhood stuffed animal with me so that I may sleep with it and not be alone when Dad is gone. I am thankful to have a son who is patient and gracious with me when I am out of sorts. I appreciate his tolerant and forgiving nature. I am blessed! Thank you, Maceo!
6) I am grateful to have a son who is kind, thoughtful and compassionate. I am thankful to have a son whose first thought upon hearing that I do not feel well is "May I make you breakfast and some hot tea?" and then spends the day checking on me and refilling my beverages. I am blessed! Thank you, Bishop!

My Thanksgiving Day ended on a sweet note as my boys each said the bedtime prayer, as I am beginning to lose my voice due to some creepy crud. Maceo thanked God for good food, to include crescent rolls and cinnamon rolls. (Maceo is all about the food!).
Bishop prayed, "Thank you, God, for Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims, for our house and good food, and for our warm beds."
Aren't we blessed?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Thanksgiving isn't over yet signs of Christmas are to be seen everywhere.
I have been going to a host of holiday open houses and have been finding true inspiration.
I have been to Pheona's and the vendors had some truly lovely items...
...and some truly lovely ideas.
This tree made of white gloves is quite clever...
and this garland is spectacular!
I love it and you are sure to see some version of it appear in my home.

I also went to an open house at Bear Creek Lodge, the surroundings were beautiful.
One of my all time favorite vendors, The Seedbox, was in attendance.
Her displays were beautiful, these pictures sure do not do them justice.

This is the storefront of Funtiques.
This one belongs to Red Velvet.
And this one belongs to Della's.
(And most certainly these pictures do not accurately portray how precious this window display is).

I don't like to move too quickly towards Christmas lest I rush right past Thanksgiving but it is nice to be reminded, in such lovely ways, that Christmas is approaching. I must give Christmas some consideration.
For Thanksgiving, I created a folder to organize my thoughts and ideas.
For Christmas, I have created a binder to organize my thoughts and ideas related to Advent, 12 Days of Christmas, Christmas Gifts, Menus and Decorating Ideas.
I will share it with you in a future post.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the eye candy!

Thanksgiving Ponderings

It has been such a wonderful day. The focus has been on family, we didn't even leave the house at all today. The pace has been slow and steady - watching football, which involves some friendly competition, and preparing food for our Thanksgiving feast tomorrow. Drinking some hot tea by candlelight while assembling the cornbread dressing, I had a moment to really think about those who mean so much to me and to send up prayers for each one. My thoughts went from the older lady at church who, last year, preserved those autumn leaves that are in the candle bowl for me to Keegan, who is preparing her first Thanksgiving dinner without the aid and experience of her mom. My thoughts touched on my mother and father, my siblings, and, of course, my husband and children. I am a richly blessed woman!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Is Upon Us

Thanksgiving is upon us. It is Thanksgiving Eve and, despite the fact that we will not be celebrating until Friday due to Herb having to work, the porch is decorated,
a centerpiece has been created for the table,

the living room has been spiffed up,

the gratitude tree has been created,
and, from the kitchen, the turkey is thawed and the cranberry relish is complete.
Tomorrow the boys and I will make football food (chips and queso, buffalo chicken wings, and a veggie tray) and enjoy a day of football fun, all while I do final preparations for our Friday Thanksgiving celebration (there are still pies to bake, stuffings to prep, and a pumpkin dip to make).

I am wishing you all a very blessed and happy Thanksgiving Day!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

From the Kitchen

Autumn is upon us and, though the sky may be clear and the sun may shining brightly, the air is crisp and cool. The days are shorter and the temptation to hibernate has set in.

The desire to partake in comfort foods and warm the kitchen with baking increases at this time. So, I spent the day baking loaves of banana bread.
Warm, delicious, comforting banana bread.

I use a recipe given to me by my mother and I share it with you now.

1/2 c butter
1 c sugar
2 eggs
2 c flour
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c pecans, optional

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, one at a time. Add bananas. Sift dry ingredients together and stir into batter. If desired, fold in nuts. Bake in a greased loaf pan for about 50 minutes at 350.
The recipe says that the bread will slice more easily on the second day but I cannot confirm that as all bread I bake is devoured quite quickly.
My family likes it warm.
Yummy and comforting!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day!

Our family wishes all service members a very happy Veteran's Day!
We are so thankful for your service and your sacrifice,
and the sacrifice of your families.
These words are not spoken lightly; they are stated with a deep sense of appreciation and understanding. I love our country and the ideas on which it was founded. Daily I feel blessed to have been born in this place and this time. And daily I feel blessed that there are so many people who willingly commit their lives to the defense of this country and those ideas upon which it was founded. As a wife of a twice-deployed Army man, I understand the commitment and the sacrifice that is required of each and every soldier and I never take that for granted.
Thank you!

As for our family, it was so nice to have the Army man home with us on this Veteran's Day. This morning, Bishop put the flag on display while Dad stood at attention. It was such a tender moment, I wish I had a picture but, alas, I must be satisfied with the snapshot that remains in memory.
Another day, another memory of our grand adventure!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More Thanksgiving Decorations

I have created another Thanksgiving vignette.

It sits on my buffet.

It can't stay here through Thanksgiving
because I set up my dessert buffet on this space.
But, in the meantime, I find it inspirational!

I also find this beautiful autumn rose from my garden to be inspirational!

I included some white autumn roses on this banner that I made.

Burlap, lace and simple embellishments - I love it!

The roses are simply paper flowers that I dipped in beeswax.

And, of course, I included some favored trinkets.

It is simple and understated

yet seems perfect to me.

I am simply thankful!