Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cozy Days of Winter

Christmas has passed. The new year is fast approaching. The weather is gelid, making it hard to spend much time enjoying the crisp untouched snowy landscape that surrounds me.

I'm left to my own devices to try and fill my days with meaning as I long to be in the garden again! As I said yesterday, I've found ways to fill my time - and spirit - thus far. I think one of the biggest lessons I've learned this year (mainly through writing...thank you!) is that there is so much beauty in the simple things; the moments that don't really seem to stand out but can create a sense of peace and happiness you didn't realize existed! I've found that. And it is such a remarkable I hope we can all appreciate at some point!

But as I sit here this evening, I can't help but sit in awe as I think about all I did that had meaning in my life...but may seem all to trivial to everyone else. That's whats funny. My days may be filled with cleaning, crafting, gardening, walking, creating, working, and my idea of play... and your day may consist of something completely different but will be just as purposeful! Each day is completely objective - which is fantastic for us! None of us has to be the same: we can all find meaning and beauty in different forms and ways throughout our days, simply resplendent! This being said, here is what I found to be auspicious!

After spending an afternoon and evening with family and friends engrossed in our Alma-matter's bowl game (Oregon State University ;-), we wanted a change of scenery. We've had several snow flurries this past week so our landscape is completely covered with the delicate white flakes of winter: snow! We went cross-country skiing outside our back door, literally, and then came home and cozied up with lunch and tea! From there, we ran errands, I finished my sisters birthday present (which I think is kind-of cool; so after this coming weekend, I'll share it!), took our puppies for a much needed hike, and then just relaxed. But in the midst of our relaxation, hunger struck and we decided to make it a pizza night. We made pulled pork, pineapple, and veggie pizza! As we savored the food we were so blessed to be able to enjoy, we just talked.

But, being an avid gardener at heart and missing it terribly, I couldn't end my evening without getting my hands into something 'plantie' (for lack of a better fact I think I just made that up;-). I started two new items in my kitchen: mung bean sprouts and Salad Burnet seeds I ordered from the Burpee catalogue several months back (an herb that can be used in salads and has a cucumber-like flavor, could also be used as a substitute for mint).

My mung bean sprouts have been soaked for 24 hours, rinsed, and are sitting on my counter beginning to sprout! I'm so excited to try them!! I picked them up at a wonderful store called Bob's Red Mill located here in Oregon. They sell so many beautiful types of beans, spices, grains, pastas...several heirloom and hard-to-find varieties (organic as well!) and a quality that is apparent in every item sold! But I digress. I bought a small bag of them (in the bulk isle) with the thought of spouting a few and cooking the others just to see the different flavors of this bean. The sprouts will be first, and the cooked beans will be tried a bit later...when I find a recipe appropriate for their use!

My Salad Burnet has peaked their little cotyledons through the soil and I'm eagerly awaiting their maturation! I cant wait to try them! Other than the description earlier, I've never had the pleasure of experiencing this herb myself. I can't wait though!

For now, my little homestead is existing and slowly moving forward. There is so much I want to try and do, but for now, we don't have to means to follow though on those dreams. I haven't lost hope though. In fact, quite the contrary! I'm more hopeful now than ever...I've seen what we can do with what little we have and I know we can work towards our dreams (a statuesque bit of land, to work and live off of!) For now, I'm grateful for all God has blessed us with! With every passing year, I completely blown away!

Find peace and joy in all you are blessed with and enjoy it on a daily basis! It's what makes us who we are! And don't be afraid to step out and try something new or unique! It can be fun and extremely rewarding!

Enjoy...and look toward the new year with anticipation!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Garden in the Making

This time of year is definitely hard for me; I love the holidays, family and friends, and all the wonder winter brings. However, I always seem to find myself in a gardeners "frump." I want to be outside and feel the dirt on my hands; see the weeds that need to be pulled; smell the fresh cut grass and the redolent blossoms appearing throughout my gardens. I miss the business my garden brings.

I have found things to occupy my time though...and in the best of ways! I've had so much fun making crafts and Christmas presents. But now that Christmas has passed, I'm left with a desire to jump back into my garden. The solution I have come up with: Garden planning!

I've been getting several different seed/gardening catalogues in the mail. I usually just throw them in the recycling, but my eagerness to create and nurture God's simple gift - nature - has led me to decide to flip through them before I tossed them out. That is exactly what I needed to take action on the fondness I feel to gardening.

As I thumbed through the different catalogues, and the different categories in each, I was completely overwhelmed with the variety I saw! I had no idea there were so many sub-species to the basic 'vegetable' plants. There are the heirlooms, hybrids, award-winners, taste-test winners, company exclusive species, cold-hardy, heat tolerant...the list goes on and on! But as I basked at all of the descriptions of each plant, I couldn't help but fall in love with several (more than Cam would like ;-) plants that I would be overjoyed to try out in my garden next year!!

My selections tended to be on the safe or basic side; I want beets, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, peas, chard and spinach. I know there is so much else out there though. Two years ago, we tried Ground Cherries - beautiful, sweet, but aside from jam, we really didn't use them - and last year we tied Kohlrabi - a delightful and delicious tuber we will try again!! - and corn. So this year, we need to try something fun and unexpected. But I'm really at a loss...I'm not sure what else we should try or what would fit us.

So I am seeking your help and advice. Do you have any suggestions on what I should try-out this year in my garden (keeping in mind I have a short growing season and limited the moment)? Even if it's not a new plant, a new type of plant would also be welcomed. I've ordered several new tomato plants already (can't wait to try them! Be on the look out in February for these newses!) and I've done a little research about beets. Other than that, I'm pretty naive.

Any variety or type of plant for my garden this coming spring would be warmly welcomed! If no specific idea comes to mind, even a web-site or catalogue would work. I guess what I'm saying here is this: I need some help in deciding what my garden should consist of and incorporate this coming year. I'm so excited, like a kid in a candy store (to borrow the colloquialism), I just cant decide!!

In the midst of crafts, creations, and dreams of my spring garden, I've enjoyed the snow and cold weather we have been blessed with! It's enchanted; I sit in my formal living room, with the Christmas tree aglow and my fireplace burning, just watching the snow fall and gracefully cover the (my) world! It's phenomenal!

Lend me your advice and thoughts! I'd LOVE to hear them and welcome them with anxious arms!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Seasonal Reflections

Christmas has been such a blessing for my little family! We were able to visit extended family members we haven't seen very often, attend a beautiful Christmas eve church service, return home for a dinner of Christmas eve lamb (a little family recipe I would not willingly give out ;-), cross-country skiing in my backyard/field, my Christmas walk with my husband and our dogs, and giving and receiving some well-thought-out presents! It was definitely a busy two days, but when we focused on each other and God's gift, it was most definitely a time to cherish!

This year, I got cam the One-Minute Prayers for Men devotional book. I was excited to give it to him and he was even more excited to read it...he knows how much I use my devotional and how much I love it, so he is enthusiastic to read this one!

So here is our first reading:

Take the High Road
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." 
~Isaiah 55:8-9~
My earthly perspective is in the trenches right now. Lord, pull me out of this place and lift my thoughts to a higher plane so I begin to see life as You do. What started as a rut became a chasm that limited my ability to succeed or move forward in Your will. Please forgive me for thinking You would be limited by the walls of that trench. I forgot that Your are God.
When You bring me home to heaven, I will already know the feeling of rising above my human circumstances, because today You lifted me up and showed me, once again, that You are God.
What beauty can be found in these words! And how easy is it to find ourselves in this very place. It is so easy to become stuck in a certain way of life or feeling or opinion. God has extended us so much grace and love, that it's sometimes hard to know we question Him. But when questions arise, turning to Him in prayer, guidance, and His word will bring us back to His true peace!
I hope you had a most wonderful Christmas! I also pray you find this prayer comforting to you this time of year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Snow Fun!

Today, two days before Christmas, we had our first HUGE winter snowstorm! It was amazing! From noon until 4 pm we were blessed with huge flakes of snow!

I guess you could say this is the first day of my 'fun' (that was commanded of us in Ecclesiastes) I actually allowed myself to take a break and enjoy God's first true moment of fun and relaxation this Christmas season!

As the seemingly weightless flakes fell from the grey sky, I couldn't wait to get out and enjoy them! Snow angels, snow men, walks through the quiet precious snow-ridden landscape...I just didn't know where to begin. My solution: do them all!!

I took the dogs out into our field for a two-mile walk and then headed back to the house. By the  time we returned, the snow had begun to fall harder and cover the terrain. I knew immediately what I wanted to do with our first big snow: a snow man.

My first attempt was somewhat disastrous. I was rolling a nice ball of snow and one of my dogs decided it was just as awesome as I thought, and he ate part of the ball and sprayed the rest! I couldn't believe it! Obviously, no snowman deserves a yellow base, so I made a base bigger and better than the first. In fact, it was so big, I had to get Cam to help lift the next two layers!! But after his basic shape was in place - directly at the end of our col-de-sac, facing the main road :-) - the REAL fun began!

I found two rocks to serve as eyes, corn stalk leaves to serve as blond hair, a metal finial for a nose, branch arms, and a mouth and buttons made of chestnuts; he stands, greeting all those who come down our little road, a little over 6 feet tall and salutes everyone with a holiday smile! Quite the sight to see. I only wish I had some lights to draw attention to him as the darkness encompasses us so early in the evening!

I also made several snow angels in our field and even had time to make a beautiful dinner with Cam. All-in-all a wonderful day for my little family!

  I am trying to follow Christ's commands to take moments for 'fun' in my daily life. Today was only the first of what I hope to be several more moments of enjoyment I pray I am able to partake in as this year comes to an end and we embark in a new, unknown, and wonderful year!

What fun moments have you decided to make or take-part in? I'd love to hear how you are enjoying this season!!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Joy

Christmas is a time for us to acknowledge and celebrate the birth of Christ. Unfortunately, so many of us get caught up in the rush to buy presents, throw and attend Christmas parties, entertain family, and rush around to make sure no one is left out, that we can easily lose sight of the meaning and joy of Christmas. We become stressed and overwhelmed making this season more of a burden than a time of enjoyment.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Christmas Stranger

On a daily basis, our lives are constantly impacted by people we don’t know. We run into new people waiting in lines, catching taxis, on the street, at restaurants…the list goes on and on. Some of these meetings are brief – a simple smile and nod – while others offer a chance to laugh with someone we don’t know or share some of the joy and happiness we possess.

One thing I’ve always enjoyed is being a friendly, considerate, and funny stranger; one that makes you step back and smile for the next several hours. I know that when I meet someone like this, my day seems brighter and my soul is lifted – a feeling I want to give to others as much as I want to receive it!
Yesterday, I had an opportunity to attend a basketball game with a very good friend of mine. She is just a joy to be with and we both enjoy random spontaneous acts of kindness and fun. This game was full of it for us both! We were having a wonderful time together; laughing, talking, watching, cheering, and conversing with those in the row ahead and behind us.

After the first quarter, we decided we wanted Cam to snap a picture of us to commemorate our time together. We stood and began smiling and what happened next was completely unexpected! There was an older gentleman in the row in front of us who was casually talking to us and laughing at our antics for the beginning of the game. As we took our poses for a quick pic, he speedily jumped up and struck a pose just as Cam took the picture!

Now it’s a little fuzzy (Cam couldn’t quit laughing) but as you can see, he looks as though we are friends. When my friend and I noticed what was happening, we nearly lost it in laughter! He was so funny…he wouldn’t pose with us after that; he said he was only joking. What he didn’t know is that Cam actually got that picture! So when we finished with our pictures and began returning to our seats, I leaned over and showed him the picture. He laughed and laughed and couldn’t believe that we actually captured that moment of randomness! He grabbed my hand and wished me a very wonderful and blessed Christmas and I returned the sentiment!
It may not seem like much – this small and random encounter – but its effects have been lasting! When I think back to last night, I can’t help but remember this picture and laugh. I’m filled with joy and happiness! It is these feelings I want to show to others I meet.

Especially this time of year, we can become stressed and may find ourselves in a very disagreeable disposition. It happens to us all but it’s what we choose to do with these feelings that is crucial. We can be angry, cold, and distant, making strangers just step back and roll their eyes as we pass. Or, we can turn it around and try to make light of certain circumstances and attempt to better our day and the day of those we meet!
Will you join me? Will you take a stressful moment and turn it into something amusing and memorable? Trust me, it’s fun and will make a difference in someone’s life, guaranteed!

And a quick side note…I had some time to read on our drive and found the most wonderful article on beets in a magazine. I can’t wait to share the new heirloom varieties I want to try and some interesting growing tips I hope to be able to implement in my early spring garden!!

Christmas for the Birds

Here it is. As promised, my craft for Christmas that I think is SUPER cute!
As you know, I love birds! There is something so whimsical and magical about them. So when I spot a cute bird figurine or a salubrious bird feeder, I'm I sucker! So, this Christmas, when I discovered this particular craft in a Better Homes and Gardens e-mail, I knew I had to make it!
It was actually a craft made from an almond. Having no access to 'cheap' almonds, I decided to adapt this project slightly. I had several wine corks that I figured would work, so I whittled them down to the basic shape of an almond and worked from there!
These beautiful little bird ornaments are quite cute and fun, but are fairly time consuming; due mainly to the fact that everything you make for them is so small. Once you get the feel for what you are doing, you can create a sort of assembly-line to do several at one time. At least that’s what I found to work the best for me ;)
As I mentioned, I adapted this craft to fit with what I had on hand. Instead of using an almond for the body, I used a wine cork. For the little wire legs, I had some old small gauge wire in my garage. I cut three small pieces (per leg), twisted them together and bent one end to create the ‘feet.’ I made each little cap out of whatever scrap material I had around in my fabric tub and the beak from yellow cardstock I found at the Dollar store (a template for each can be found along with some instructions and the Better Homes and Gardens web-page: bird ornament).
 After about two hours, super glue, hot glue, a needle and thread, a black sharpie, and some twig hunting, I had finished my first bird ornament! I was ecstatic and quite enthusiastic about the fact I had finished a new craft!
The next three were made in assembly-line fashion and seemed to make my completion several hours later that much more rewarding!
One more craft I finished at the beginning of December was my 25 days of Christmas screen! I took different fabrics, papers, stickers, and anything else I could incorporate to create 25 unique clothes pins and tags to represent each of the 25 days before Christmas. On the back of each of the tags, I wrote a bible verse. So each day, instead of a present, we could be blessed with God’s word! I thought it was a fairly cleaver idea J
I hope you enjoy this! If you feel like making something this season as a last minute gift or simply for yourself, I encourage you to try this craft or any other one that sparks your interest!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Fun!

Life has been a whirl-wind since I last wrote. It has been full of visiting friends and family, crafting and making home-made Christmas presents, and work. I've been busy, overwhelmed at times, but have enjoyed every moment of it!

We have finally received our 'winter' weather. It has been cold, blustery, and have had bouts of snow and ice. This type of weather is a gardeners (at least this gardeners) worst time. I don't feel like I can really do anything in or to my garden; I feel stagnant. That is hard for me. I'm a doer. And this time of year means I must take a break from one of my passions and try to replace it with another.

Christmas, for me, is a time to spend with friends and family; creating memories and enjoying the nostalgia of the season. So this year, I've decided to try my had at something new for Christmas presents. Enter, the needle, thread, and sewing machine!

I'm no seamstress. In fact, the best thing I can sew is a pillow or pillow case! Now, I've made a couple of other things, but nothing fantastic. So this year, I wanted to try something new.

 Last year, Cam gave me a wonderful present:
This book was daunting at first. I've had no real sewing experience so the thought of following a pattern or instructions was somewhat intimidating, to say the least! But after some pep-talking (and lack of gardening work :-) I decided to use this book as a starting point for Christmas presents this year!
I must say, this book has done a phenomenal job in teaching me how to make great projects simply
and with only one yard of fabric! After this weekend, and having completed presents for three of my family members, I'm thrilled with this book!
Not only is it a book that is great for beginners, but also a wonderful resource for new and fun ideas. This book will definitely keep me occupied for many years to come. But for this Christmas, I'm so excited to give the ones I love these presents I have created for them.
I know that making 'home-made' presents may seem a little out-dated to some. But this is what I think we need; get back to our more simplistic roots. The thought, time, and love that goes into  a present made by those we love is more meaningful than any amount of money that could be spent.
I hope you are able to sit back this holiday season and rejoice. Not only for family, but for Christ and life! We are so blessed!
Whether you celebrate this Christmas with presents or not, celebrate the true meaning of Christmas!
Sewing was only one of the ways I decided to craft this Christmas! Tomorrow I hope to show you what else I've come up with...and I think they are extremely cute!!!!!
How do you celebrate Christmas? What are some of the traditions you partake in? I love hearing all different stories, so please share!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Spirit

My little house
I love this time of year! It's full of wonder, family, friendship, kindness, love and peace. It's a time when we all have an 'excuse' to make large amounts of sweet treats - only made once a year - to give away and to indulge in ourselves! It's also a time to seriously reflect on why we can enjoy life; our life, the good and the not so great, and every breath we take. This is a time of year dedicated to celebrating our Saviour, Jesus Christ and the beginning of His ultimate gift. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Learning to Forgive

The Rains Are Over
See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come.
~Song Of Solomon 2:11-12~
Days of hardship and pain have rained down in my past, Lord. There were storms that destroyed the foundations I had built. Floods swept away the hope I had placed in material things and in the strength I thought I saw in others. All that remained was the washed-out land of disappointment. But that was in the past. A time when I could not see a future.
Now the flowers sprout and shout from the earth. They sing a song of Your faithfulness. This is a new season for me, Lord. Past sorrows fade away and future hopes and dreams grow strong. You offer me this renewal every day, Lord. I am grateful for the rains, for they have prepared my soul to receive the blessings.
(Excerpt taken from One-Minute Prayers for Women )
There has been so much going on in my life lately; some of it good and some of it quite difficult to swallow.
Each of us is presented with times in our lives when we are treated harshly and somewhat unfairly. When this happens, it's easy to throw up your hands and give up; let it continue to happen, repeatedly, and try to just pass it off. Unfortunately, resentment and hard-feelings can easily grow in this environment and bitterness thrives here.
A situation presented itself this last week which did just that for me. I could feel the animosity growing within myself...the inability to let it go was beyond me. I felt if I let it go, then this same treatment of us would continue to happen. And I was determined, after several similar happenings, to put a stop to it!
But I began to realize one thing - my feelings really weren't being noticed or acknowledged by those who had inflicted them upon us. No. They were only felt by us, the receiving end, and stopped there.
After much self-reflection, church, and this devotional...I can say, I want to forgive and move on. Not for them, those in-the-wrong, but for me. I  want to be able to forgive their agrevious misgivings and proceed with my life.
When something erroneous happens in life, it takes strength and the help of our Lord to make it through...triumphantly! We must learn to forgive others the way Christ commands us to. When we can, the result is simply amazing! Hard? Absolutely!! Worth it? You bet! Forgiveness is for us. It sets  us  free!
This is what I'm dealing with on a daily basis this to forgive those we love. How do you feel? Have you been in a similar situation? How did you handle it? Communication and advice helps us all! Share with us!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lessons Anew

What a wonderful weekend I was blessed with! After a quite hectic week (which kept me away from home everyday week-day) I was blessed to have a very good friend of mine come to visit. I was exuberant about her visit, and once she arrived, it was better than I could have ever imagined!

We, of course, partook in the usual friendly catch-up chit-chat, but what came next was astounding!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Funniest Thing Happened...

Today was filled with unexpected moments! And sometimes those days are matter how suddenly they seem to emerge. But this day, no matter what seemed to consume it, I was overwhelmed and excited about what it presented!

First thing this morning I went to work...and received a message from a beautiful friend of mine. She is coming to visit me for the weekend; excitement is literally all I can say that is consuming me now!!!
So, along with excitement, I know several things have popped up today that I think are fun and interesting.

First, as I went out to clean up the garden, I stumbled across what looked like a very small honeydew melon. I immediately plucked it from its dieing vine and brought it in to cut up to eat. Since it had been exposed to several frosts, it had become semi-soft so I decided to just cut it up and see what I had.
After cutting into it and trying the flesh of the melon, I'm both enamored and disappointed. The little melon I grew has a very sweet taste to it but it was missing that most marvelous 'flavor' that accompanies a perfectly ripe honeydew melon. My lesson: It needed a bit longer growing season than it received.

 Along with this beautiful melon from my garden this fall, I also experienced something else tonight. As I went out this evening to dump the excess compost, I was met by four beautiful deer and a fairly small fawn. It was truly a beautiful sight to see them so close to my house...especially since all of my crops within their reach are done for the season.

 If my compost scraps give them a little more nourishment for the year I will gladly welcome that. I know deer can devastate a garden and landscape in a season, but we can also enjoy the fact that, once our garden has reached dormancy, we are able to provide sustenance for these beautiful creatures. And having a husband who was fortunate enough to get a four-point buck this year, I'm extremely grateful for their meat as well!

 Aside from the gardening aspect,  I have truly enjoyed the subtle surprises my garden has provided! I have had the opportunity to see birds (of all kinds!), deer, critters, and so many new and different crops... I've been blessed enough to enjoy this year, completely!

But each and every day exposes me to something new! I'm extremely grateful for this!! I can only pray this will continue on!

What makes you grateful this season? How do you and your family choose to spend this time of year? Share, please, I'd love to hear all the stories you can share!!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Beginning a New Journey

Tomorrow, I am embarking on a new personal journey. A part of me is excited - for the unknown - and the other is scared. The 'unknown' is often intimidating; what if it's hard or scary or out of control? It is this very thing that often keeps me from moving forward. But this time, I am excited to see what the future holds.

It has taken me quite some time to come to this point; a point in which I can trust that all things will work out for a greater good, so I need not fret over the small and insignificant moments that so often consume my thoughts. One of the greatest sources of strength has come to me through this devotional:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gardening and Winter!!

 I love gardening...the smells, feelings - both the physical and the emotional - and the gratitude of being able to harvest my crops and enjoy the beauty and solitude my garden creates. But now that winter is upon us, it's hard to work outside and be able to sit and enjoy our works when our creation is in dormancy and it's far too cold to start anew!

So, my solution for this short lull: crafting! Anything and everything is fair game!! Just as gardening allows me to create something beautiful and new, beginning a new craft does the same!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

'Tis the Season

 Forgo the tinsel and mistletoe at the present moment...and bring on the butter and sugar! It's the time of year when we start making cookies. Each of us has our favorites; our cherished family recipes; our seasonal treasures! Whatever it might mean to you, for me, this is the time of year to make them all!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Time of Peace

(The following is an excerpt from One-Minute Prayers for Women)

Choosing Peace

If it is Possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

~Romans 12:18~

Lord, I long for Your peace in my soul. I wish to draw it in and release it to others. Where I have a chance to act out Your peace, please let me be strong and brave. Conflict is easier sometimes. It allows me to build barriers between me and another, or between me and the right way. But there is little comfort when I stand alone, indignant on one side of the wall.

May I meditate on Your Word so that it rises to my mind in place of angry and defensive language. Peace flows from You and into my life. I know its power to change behaviour and remove blindness. Grant me the opportunity to share this gift.


I completely stand humbled this evening. This devotional made me stop and reflect on my attitude and my daily-outlook. I long for peace. I long for a life filled with strength, hope and peace. So why then do I find myself so caught up in 'stuff' on a daily basis? Why do I tend to dwell on the little insignificant moments of life and not on the moments that create a beautiful liveliness?

Living at peace with myself and with where I'm at in life will allow me to share this peace with those around me! I pray that I can accept and act on this peace that God grants us. When I can, I pray that I can show those around me how wonderful His peace is!

 May you find peace this week...and be able to share it with others! I know I am going to try!!


Thanksgiving Re-cap!

I know it seems a little late, but I was blessed enough to have a short vacation after Thanksgiving Day with my husband, so here is a little snippet of my Thanksgiving day!


What a special day! It was filled with family, quality time spent together, and new memories to last a lifetime!

The first part of our visit was spent preparing the meal and visiting. I had the chance to see some family that I haven't seen in several was such a wonderful time! As the food was set at the table, we all sat and enjoyed a wonderful and delicious meal.

After our dinner, we did our 'Turkey Wattle' 5K walk. It was dark, cool, and damp, but extremely fun! For three-quarters of the walk I held my baby cousin who fell asleep in my arms; talked to family for the entire time...I couldn't have asked for a better end to a beautiful day!

Our 5k 'Turkey Wattle' walk participants!

 There is so much to be thankful for. No matter what we find ourselves in-the-midst-of or overwhelmed by, there is always a reason to give thanks! I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving Day!!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Blessings

 Thanksgiving Day Prayer

We take so much for granted
of life and liberty,
and think that we deserve it;
that all was done "for me."

Think how they must have struggled,
 new pilgrims in this land.
So many died from hardships
yet still they made a stand.

When all the work was finished,
new crops sowed in the ground,
they gathered with their neighbors,
asked blessings all around.

Oh, God, help us be grateful
for gifts you've sent our way.
For these we want to thank you
on this Thanksgiving day.

~Kris Ediger~

Thanksgiving is a special day we have set aside to stop, reflect, and acknowledge how very blessed we are. It's a time too, filled with family, a BIG meal, a parade, and for some, football. This year my family is even choosing to do a 5K walk: the Turkey Waddle! 

Along with our walk, we are indeed going to enjoy the traditional Thanksgiving day meal. My dad is smoking a turkey, my grandma and mom are doing the sweet potatoes, salad, potatoes, and my sisters and aunt are making pies and desserts...and I am in charge of the stuffing, home-made cranberry sauce, and a pecan pie cookie.

 I made a simpler stuffing this that you put into the crock pot and let it cook on low for 4-6 hours! That's it! You don't have t babysit it, use the oven or stove or microwave, which frees up time and quite a bit of space for everything else. It smells sooo good!

The cranberry sauce was extremely exciting! This is the first time I've made it from scratch and this recipe adds some pizazz and spice, which will be particularly yummy on left-over turkey sandwiches! It's Bobby Flays Sweet and Spicy cranberry sauce. It has onions, ginger, a Serrano pepper, honey, cilantro, and lime zest. I can't wait for sandwiches...but it might be equally delicious just as a side to dip the turkey or roll in!!

 The Pecan Pie cookie is a new one but my dad loves pecan pie so I thought I'd give it a try. It has a nut shortbread cookie crust and a topping of maple caramel, nuts and chocolate! They were messy and time consuming, but they look good!

And, as a side note, I used the remainder of the nuts to just candy. Candied nuts are delicious on salad!! You simply place 1 cup of nuts into a skillet with 1/4 cup of white sugar. Over medium high heat, stir the nuts and sugar until the sugar melts, coating the nuts, and browning slightly. Remove immediately and spread onto a parchment lined tray. When cool, break them into small pieces and serve!

(With all this delicious food we will be sharing, our walk may indeed be a waddle, ha!!)

No matter how you choose to spend the day, I pray the main focus is on thankfulness for all we have and can do, for those who fought and struggled in order for us to enjoy our freedoms and advancements, and to our Lord who makes all things possible! Blessings surround us always so lets take some time to give thanks for them!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Date Night

These last several days...okay, this entire week, have been a whirl-wind of obligations, commitmnets, and, yes, emotions! We have trudged through but are in some serious need of a moment together; to breath, talk, and relax in eachothers presence. Something we haven't had the opportunity to do. So, we chose to have a date night. We cleared the evening, turned off electronic devices and focused on eachother! 

As some may already know, our favorite 'date-night' meal is sushi. For me, I think it's because once I make the sushi rice and the asian slaw, I'm done! Cam makes the rolls, sears the tuna, prepares the miso soup, and makes a magnificient cucumber salad (as a tribute to our very beloved seaweed salad at the restaurants)! When it's all done, it really is quite a feast! And the best part is, with a combined effort (and the fact Cam enjoy's making sushi!) we can make this meal in an hour...and the outcome is so worth the time commitment!
This time of year, especially, can beome so full of  responsibilites, commitments, and engagements that may seem out of our control. It's easy to do. I know! But we have to remember to always take a day, several hours, or several moments each day to refocus on the relationships that mean the most to us; helping them grow stronger and more secure. A date night is a perfect way/excuse to incorporate it into your week!

Cam lost a friend this last weekend so we are even more attune to just how precious life, and all it's relationships, are. Not to be negative Nancy here, but life is extrememly precious and far too short. We never know just when our time may be finished here on earth. Let's commit to make the most of what we have; live everyday like we don't know what lies ahead (which we don't really)...not only for ourselves but for the betterment of those around us - those who need help as well!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Let's Go Skiing!

Snow has reached the high desert of Oregon. We experienced our first snow of the season a few days ago; being blessed with a good 3 or 4 inches of this precious white gift. The air was still and smelled so pure and clean. I sat on our porch, bundled up in wool blanket and with a BIG cup of coffee and just experienced  it; pure, simple, and enchanting.

After my coffee, we took our dogs for a walk through our open, snow-filled field. As they ran through the field, they dipped their heads and drug their darling noses through the snow; scooping it up like a shovel and as as if it were meant just for them. It was precious and almost as beautiful as our surroundings!

But this time of year - filled with family and friends - can also present a time of stress for many of us. Is the food prepared? Do we have enough room for guests? Is the house clean? Can we please everyone...really?! It's hard. I get me, I do!

Even during this blessed snow, I was beginning to become overwhelmed by everything I had to do to make everyone happy with me. To be honest, it was extremely discouraging because I realized I couldn't do everything for everyone without leaving someone out. So in my state of utter-helplessness (which was completely self-imposed...I know), Cam tried to cheer me up. He surprised me with a little gift. Now I know things don't make everything OK, nor do they solve problems, but this present was so extremely thoughtful I couldn't help but be flattered and cheerful!

He gave me three wood-carved snow birds. Each of them is posed and ready to go skiing...since I LOVE to cross-country ski, I decided that's what they were doing! :-)

They are so extremely cute that I couldn't help but smile and laugh when I opened the perfectly wrapped box! The most precious thing about this gift was what had spurred it. Cam could tell I was stressed with everything that has been going on. But he said that when he passed by this shop, he thought of me and couldn't help himself, so he brought them home for me! That was the sweetest thing to me...he didn't spend much but this little gesture reminded me of just how simple life is.
It's easy to get caught up in family, friends, perfection, holiday spirit, and all things that come along with this time of year and we can easily forget what it's really about. Thanksgiving and Christmas are times to be filled with family and friends, yes, but it's a time to be thankful and to acknowledge just who we are to be thankful to.  

So when we become overwhelmed with the things-to-be-done, we need to remember what is important. Christ, family, and friends. We are who Christ made us to be: nothing more, nothing less. Though we can't fulfill all expectations, if we listen, God will lead us where we need to be this season. Trust in Him and everything will work out! I'm definitely going to be working on this!!

Is this helpful? How are you dealing with Thanksgiving and holiday stresses? I'd love to hear!!