Monday, December 31, 2012

Snippets of Christmas!

Snippet...I like that word. A small piece of something.  Everyone needs "a small piece of something".  I was quite busy during December and didn't participate in any of the Christmas decoration link up parties, but did want to show you a snippet of of my favorite things.  I'll start with one of my favorite rooms in the house, the laundry room.  Since I spend so much time there, I better like it.  During Christmas, it is turned into Santa's Wash and Dry! The red wreath was made by my maternal grandmother.  I treasure it and put it up each year.
I made this wreath for the laundry room door in a matter of minutes to match the toile in the laundry room.  A styrofoam wreath, leftover fabric, and a little greenery was all I needed to tweak this into a happy wreath.  Maybe I should have trimmed the strings before taking this picture!
We have manger scenes throughout the house, but this is one of my favorites.  Our oldest son sets up the scene each year. Joseph is a little top heavy so that staff must be strategically placed! Not to worry, our oldest is an aerospace engineer.  He is terrific with critical elements!
This is our reading room off of the kitchen.  During Christmas, it turns into my husband's Christmas Village and he has his "train tree' in here.  He is an avid train collector and the tree is dedicated to trains.  There is another set of houses in here, but we didn't get them in the picture.  I like the way the mirror gives you the ability to see the scenes from the back as well.  I have always been fascinated with Christmas village scenes.
I like to decorate the dining room.  My china cabinet is decked out in gold and greenery.  The Santa picture on the left hand-side was purchased from Lands End as a charity event for children's cancer.  He is a jolly ole Saint Nick!
Here is a shot of the den from an upper balcony.  Over the years I have learned to organize the decorations in each room prior to storing away.  I can literally put up the decorations in a few hours. Our main tree has never been a themed tree.  I like to see the ornaments our children made as well as those we've collected over the years.  Taking each one out brings back so many wonderful memories that you just can't get when you "theme" your tree.  I made our stockings our first Christmas together and added the boys' stockings as they came along.  Each is made of the same quilted fabric with a cross stitched scene and our names across the tops.  As you can see, we collect nutcrackers!
These are special to me as they were on my first Christmas tree as a baby.  My goodness, that makes them..ummm...old!
I can't believe that we didn't get a shot of the kitchen.  It is another favorite room in the house and is decorated in gingham and gingerbread.  Here is a special gift I received this year!  His name is Luke Bailey.  Luke for the chapter in the Bible telling of Christ's birth and Bailey for George Bailey in my favorite Christmas movie, It's A Wonderful Life. He is a sweetheart.  Our two big labs don't know quite what to make of him.  More about Luke later.
 I don't think I have ever shared a picture of my family with you.  We took this one for our Christmas cards this year with minimal fussing! Our oldest son, our aerospace engineer, is to the left of the picture and our youngest son is to my right.  He is in his junior year at MSU majoring in electrical engineering.  I must say, they do not get their analytical brains from me!  We have thoroughly enjoyed having them home during the holidays.  Of course, the guy on the right side of the picture is my sweet hubbie.  My family and I wish you and your family a Happy New Year and many blessings for the coming year.
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Monday, December 17, 2012

I Believe

Sunday night our church had a beautiful Christmas musical.  We usually do a large singing Christmas tree, but we are in the process of searching for a minister of music, so our interim had a fantastic special evening of songs.  One that touched my heart is "I Believe". If you have never heard this amazing song, click the link here to listen as you read this post.
This is a time of year when many of us think we must decorate every inch of our homes, ending up stressing over what needs to be done. Years ago, I was humbled to be asked to be the guest speaker at our Women's Ministry Christmas dinner.  I prayed and prayed that God would give me the words He wished for me to speak.  I am the "write it on the wall" type of girl, often wondering is that really His voice answering me or my own thoughts?  As a counselor, I had also had a very difficult first semester of school.  One precious little girl that I worked closely with had passed away and it seemed as though so many children walked through my door bravely bearing their souls as they told me of the unwanted touches that signal abuse.  My parents asked if I would like to get away for a few days and my sweet husband thought it was a good time for me to take a break.  I also thought the trip would give me time to prepare for my speaking engagement.  My nature is to mix humor with the serious and I prayed for a suitable topic.  It seemed everywhere I looked on our trip, I saw signs that said "Live Life Simply".  Small ones, large ones, even a few on billboards! I finally laughed as I realized that God was literally giving me my "sign".  
 Once I came to the realization He was speaking to me, it all fell together fairly quickly.  An evening a few weeks later, I spoke to the women of our church about creating a Simplified Christmas Season.  We had a wonderful dinner followed by songs and finally my presentation.  I spoke of the "Martha Stewart" Christmas Syndrome. Don't get me wrong, I think she has some great ideas, but goodness...what pressure!  I told of a true Martha Stewart failure on my part.  I had been given the task of creating a special cookie for my youngest son's kindergarten class.  What looked like a wonderful, vanilla laced cookie shaped like a pretzel and topped crystallized sugar turned out to look...these are my husband's words..."like something the dogs would leave in the yard"! At 10:30 pm the night before the event, this is not what you want to hear.  I ended up making another cookie, but my son's teacher said she wanted to see the pretzel cookies as well.  I sent them along with the individualized pretty sugar cookie Christmas trees I had labored over until 2 am.  Imagine my surprise when my youngest came home and told me that everyone loved my original cookie because..."no one had ever eaten reindeer poop before"!  I was the hit of the party!  Don't stress over the small stuff!

When I think of the birth of the Christ child, I see a humble setting, but yet one filled with unfathomable beauty and splendor all within the simplicity of the manger. If you find yourself stressed during this Christmas season, stop and think about the simplicity and beauty of His birth. Dwell on the greatest gift of all and that this gift is not only free, but it is also a gift for everyone.  
Don't allow the materialistic view of Christmas to become your burden.  Matthew 18 28-30 tells us to "Come unto me and I will give you rest".  Make this Christmas one where you and your family focus on Him and not the glitter, wrappings, and decorations.  Turn down a few party invitations, make hot chocolate in a thermos and put the kids in the car and go look at the lights, have a Southern snowball fight (with mini marshmallows), don't worry if your little one places all the ornaments on one branch, don't rush the days and the hours, read the story of "The Three Trees" to your family, believe..

"I believe in a cross, I believe He came for one, He came for all
Heavens child became a plan, gave His life for me
In spite of all I am, I believe, I believe, oh I believe

Christmas lives in me
I believe"

Christmas Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse

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Debbiedoos Graduate Party!
Brambleberry Cottage
Marvelous Mondays 

Tomorrow is a day of silence in honor of the sweet, precious souls who are now resting with our Lord.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Yummy Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels

Happy December 1st!  Today I am sharing with you a fabulous appetizer recipe that I think you will love.  My first introduction with Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels came at a Valentine's Day get together at our church.  The pastor's wife borrowed the recipe from her daughter and they were an instant hit.  Let me tell you how good they really are... my hubby and I belonged to a Sunday School Supper Club and it was my turn to bring appetizers.  I whipped these up and came to our Supper Club looking forward to great fellowship and wonderful food.  The men devoured the entire platter of 60 pinwheels and found themselves fairly full by the time our hostess brought out the main dish she had been working on all day.  She was gracious, but was not happy that they didn't eat much of her main dish!  I was actually banned from bringing Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels to any other Supper Club by the women and ordered to bring them by the men!
Here is the Starting Line-Up...I know the ingredient list is unusual, but trust me!
20 slices of White Bread (crusts trimmed)
1 can Condensed Milk
1/4 cup of Prepared Mustard
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce
1 and 1/2 pounds of thin or regular Bacon (Do not use the thick variety)
8 ounces of Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated (Regular or 2%)
I found that the giant loaf of Bunny bread is the best  for making this recipe.  You want a bread that is square and uniform in shape.  Trim the crusts from the bread and roll each piece flat with a rolling pin.
Combine condensed milk, mustard and Worcestershire in a small bowl.  Isn't it a shame that you can never get all of the creamy goodness out of a can of condensed milk?  I give you permission to take another spoon and savor the remains yourself!  I am nice like that!
Cut the bacon in half.  Lay three halves touching in a flat surface.
Place bread on top.  Spread one rounded tablespoon of condensed milk mixture on the bread. Sprinkle one tablespoon of grated cheese on top.
  Roll up and secure with three toothpicks, one thru each bacon slice.  Boy do my hands look like they need some tender, loving care!  
At this point you can either refrigerate until you are ready to bake them or bake immediately.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  With a very sharp knife, make pinwheels by cutting between the bacon slices.
Bake 30 minutes, preferably on a broiler pan with a rack.  If you use a broiler pan, I would suggest lining the pan for easier clean-up and spraying the cooking surface with Pam. Normally, I place parchment paper on cookie sheets and bake that way.  If your bacon is very fatty, I would suggest the broiler pan.
 After 30 minutes, you will end up with a delicious pan of Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels.  All of your neighbors will be knocking at the door as they smell the delicious aromas wafting from your kitchen. 
Now for the "First Platter of Christmas"!  You need to think Polar Express here to get my meaning!
Immediately remove the Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels for the broiler tray, remove the toothpick, and place on your platter.
Pick one up and take a bite...close your eyes and savor the goodness!
Let me know if you make this recipe for a Christmas shindig.  They are great for brunches as well.

Many blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse!

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