Outdoor Christmas Decor

November 29, 2012 | My Jottings

When I was growing up, one year my father hung a string of multi-colored Christmas lights on our house in West Covina, California. I loved them. But then for two years afterward, no one took them down. We didn’t light them after the holiday season had passed, but in my memory I can still see those lights hanging there just under the eaves, even during the summer months. I guess my parents became House Blind, you know, when you live with something in your surroundings for so long that you stop seeing it?

Anyway, I’ve never been one to have outdoor Christmas decorations in my yard. We like to drive around each December to see what other people have done and we love to oooh and aaah; they even have a contest in our city and some folks literally fill their yards with every conceivable light, cartoon figure, Santa on the roof, reindeer with slowly bobbing heads, nativity scene, and giant candy cane.

Yesterday I went to my mailbox and found nine catalogs there. It’s that time of year, and I recycle all of them and don’t buy a thing. But in one of the catalogs, there was an outdoor Christmas display that caught my eye. I actually considered it for about a minute, thinking of where in the corner of our yard we could situate it. But then I thought better of it, because I’m not really an Outdoor Christmas Decoration Type Person.

But if I were, here’s what might sit in our yard:

Do you have any Christmas decor in your yard or on the outside of your house? If you’re in my area, I’d love to come see it! If not, I’d love to hear about it. If you send me a picture, I’ll post it here on the blog.

God bless your day. And indeed, peace be unto you….

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 93

November 28, 2012 | My Jottings

“If you choose to use your tongue as a sword, your relationships will experience perpetual calamity.

On the other hand, if you choose to put your sword in its sheath (a mark of peace and friendship), pound it into a plow, and begin to till the soil of your relationships, you will reap rich rewards.”

Mary Kassian, Conversation Peace

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Morning Nap in the Winter Sun

November 26, 2012 | My Jottings

Now that the sun is so much lower in the sky, we have light streaming in our windows at the front of our house from 7:00 a.m. until about 4:30 p.m. each day. A person with Seasonal Affective Disorder would find much relief in this place.

Mildred and Edith love it. They believe that our new king-sized bed was purchased just for them, and they take advantage of it at least three times per day. This picture below was taken a couple of days ago when the sun was bright and warming the blankets on the bed. Millie and Edith were just seconds away from their twitchy doggy naps, when their ears, paws and back legs jerk and tremble in their rabbit-chasing dreams.

“I think God will have prepared everything for our perfect happiness. If it takes my dog being there [in Heaven], I believe he/she’ll be there.”

Reverend Billy Graham

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Forenoon Repast With The Droops

November 23, 2012 | My Jottings

Or, “Breakfast With the SAGs,” but why say “Breakfast With the SAGs” when you can make it sound so much more interesting by saying, “Forenoon Repast With the Droops?”

Several months ago Gail, Pat, Lorna and I got together for our monthly meeting in the morning, instead of for an evening meal as we usually do. I took some pictures then and never shared them with a soul, so thought I would now.

Below on the left is Dr. Gail, the heart of our foursome, a brilliant physical therapist to premature babies, wife of one, mother of three, grandmother of two. Gail loves to read and camp and does some knitting, crocheting and quilting in her spare time. 🙂

Below on the right is Pat, the mitochondrion of the SAGs. She runs a nationally known program that helps victims of domestic violence, and she teaches people, communities and law enforcers how to better deal with this terrible problem. She is the mother of two, and the owner of Doc the big horse and Jasper and Cosette the teeny dogs. Pat loves to read and cycle.

Below to the right is Lorna, the lens of the SAGs. She teaches music to children, was a Kindergarten teacher for several decades :), and loves to quilt, garden and sing. Lorna is wife to one, mother to three, and grandma to seven, and each summer she invites her grands over for the wonderful Grandmommy’s Learning About God School.

Above and to the left is Julie, me, the brain of the SAGs, except my synapses have begun to misfire and I don’t think that title is well-deserved anymore. Maybe I should be the kidney or the liver of the SAGs now, I don’t know. Or the tibia. I am wife to one, mother to three and grandma to eight. I love to read, dream about traveling to the UK and Ireland and Switzerland and Israel and Austria, and am a beginner knitter who prefers this yarn.

All four of the SAGs believe in Jesus, have trusted Him as our Savior and Lord, and know that He is the glue that holds us together, not only as SAGs, but for life in general. Without Him, each of us would have fallen apart long ago.

This Saturday the SAGs will be gathering at a local Japanese restaurant for our November meeting, and to celebrate Gail’s 55th birthday.

Considering the anatomical part that each of us represents, our sushi/tempura/teriyaki dinners will also involve some love (Gail), some cheer (Pat), some clarity (Lorna) and some mindless recitation of useless facts and figures from long ago (me).

I hope that your Thanksgiving was blessed, and that you were given at least one precious memory to carry with you forever.

Thank you so much for stopping by!

My Favorite Holiday

November 22, 2012 | My Jottings

The turkey is in the oven and the smell of sage and onion is already wafting to every room. This music is playing softly. Sara is getting ready to run the Gobble Gallop 5K. I’m sure Sharon and Carolyn are working on their contributions to the meal before they all come over in a few hours. And Michael just finished picking up Edith and Mildred’s yard contributions.

We are ready to give thanks.

Here is our lush centerpiece this year, which Sara whipped up last night in about ten minutes. Can you see the eggplant, pears, pomegranate, grapes and artichoke? And the mums, cedar, dead hydrangea blooms from our yard, and bi-colored magnolia leaves? Gorgeous!

Here’s the other side. She made little place setting “cards” on the leftover magnolia leaves…

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
    the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
    and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker

Psalm 95:1-6

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From our home to yours, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving!

Getting Ready…

November 21, 2012 | My Jottings

I have the house to myself for about three hours, and it’s a little bit of heaven. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I’m puttering around, getting a few things ready. I thought I’d show you what I’m up to! First, I’m going to give you a little music to listen to while you read. A couple of my favorite blogs always do this, and I love it! Click here and you can hear some of what we’re listening to today.

I’ve got our 20 pound turkey defrosting in the kitchen sink, in cold water. I’ll change out the water a few times, and then when it’s thawed, I’ll stick it in the fridge overnight. I’ll bet a few million households are doing the same thing today!

Everyone’s bringing something tomorrow, so it won’t be too much for any one person. I love that. Sharon is bringing the pies and a relish tray, and Nisky’s Biscuits, the latter mostly made by Eleanor Julia. Carolyn will make mashed potatoes and gravy, and will bring a sweet potato dish. Sara will make the most beautiful centerpiece for us, and will help me wherever needed. I’m doing the turkey, the stuffing, the roasted asparagus, the cranberry sauce, and I’m trying a new dish this year, Broccoli Rice Casserole. It’s Beth Moore’s retro recipe on her website, and I just finished cooking the rice for it.

It will have broccoli, cheese, mushrooms, onions and water chestnuts in it, then will bake in a casserole pan.

Our new kitchen is much smaller now, so I had to traipse down to the basement to carry up a few things from our storage shelves. One thing is this turkey roaster, which only gets used once or twice a year. It belonged to my mama.

I carried up the leaf for the table and inserted it, then angled the table so we’d have more room for seating tomorrow. I brought up our four folding chairs too. And there will be two children at the deacon’s bench in the corner, with a folding table for their meal. And there are three counter stools as well. We’ll fit everyone in!

See the suitcase over by the fireplace? Our Fosters will be going home tonight to stay with their families for Thanksgiving. We’ll be driving them as soon as they’re both home from their jobs, and they’re excited to be with their clans.

I get all their medications ready so things will be just a bit easier for their families.

Remember how I love plaid? You can see the plaid table runner if you look carefully (and these photos will enlarge if you click them.) Well, I have two new black and white plaid kitchen rugs. I have no idea why plaid makes me happy, but it does.

This morning when Michael and I shopped early for groceries, his eyes locked onto this, and he put it in our cart with a grin. My husband LOVES birds.

For now we just hung the Suet and Seed Ball on an empty planter on our front deck, but guess what? Within five minutes the chickadees had lined up to start tasting the suet and pick for the seeds. We were so happy to see them.

And this feeder above hangs right outside our kitchen window. This is a squirrel-proof feeder, and Michael and I filled it to the brim about two weeks ago. The sparrows, juncos and chickadees love it. I’ve been saying for a while that our house is now known as Chickadee Grand Central.

We also put this little feeder up recently, and we watch the birds eat their dinner while we’re eating ours.

Most exciting of all in the bird department was the arrival yesterday of two cardinal pairs to our feeders. I had missed seeing any (rare) cardinals in our new neighborhood, and kept asking the Lord to help some redbirds find our house. Yesterday morning it happened, and I called Michael to come and watch with me from our bedroom window. Two males and two females, singing their beautiful (“wi-cheer wi-cheer!” songs) and partaking from the black seeds we bought just for them. I said out loud over and over, “Thank you Lord! I see them! You answered! Thank you!” Most of you know why cardinals are so meaningful to me.

Speaking of cardinals, my grandchildren know how much I love them too. Vivienne Irene drew this beautiful bird last time she was here, so I had to put it on the backsplash with a little cardinal magnet!

Isn’t she a fantastic artist for a little girl who just turned seven last week?

Next, I decided it was time to take Glenn Miller and Celtic Woman off our stereo, and break out the Christmas music today. We have dozens of Christmas CDs, and it’s a tradition to buy one or two new ones each year to add to the joy. Here’s what I took out today, so I can have them at hand:

And here are the four I chose to put on first. I can hear them playing as I sit here and type this.

Rick Steves’ “European Christmas” (thank you Shari!), “Carols on Guitar” by Wendy Francisco, “Happy Holidays” by Jo Stafford (who has a voice like hers anymore? No one!), and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Vince Guaraldi. Michael loves the jazzy sound of that one. Do you have any Christmas music playing around your house yet? What are you listening to?

I received one Thanksgiving card this year and it made me laugh. My friend Su and I have shared a few laughs together over the years. And a few tears. And like all good friends do, we talk about our butts. But never in person, only through cards, like the one below. Ha. Right.

And of course I always include Edith and Mildred as I’m getting our Thanksgiving preparations underway. They love to help. Edith helps by messing up all the pillows on the couch. She thinks it looks more comfy, more lived-in, this way:

And Millie helps by, uh, by, well, she helps by showing me her obsequious Schnauzer Smirk when I get out the camera to take her picture.

See that little black lower lip? See how guilty she looks? That’s because she is guilty. She has a guilty conscience and it shows in her little black Schnauzer Smirk.

Well, in a little while I’ll try to finish the Broccoli Rice dish so it can go in the fridge, then I’ll bake it tomorrow when the turkey is finished roasting and is ready to be carved. Next, I’ll go and pick up Michael who is bowling for a few hours today, which he loves. Then I’ll drive our Fosters to their family’s houses and wish them all a Happy Thanksgiving. Then I’ll come home and make sure the bird is thawed before I put it in the fridge. (I’ll be up at the crack of dawn to stuff it and get it in the oven.) Then, Michael and I (and Sara, if she can stand our company) will finish this DVD on TV before bed tonight…something so transporting for me I could almost cry.

I am so happy and excited that my daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren will be coming over tomorrow to feast with us, and give thanks with us. We have so many blessings to count.

What kinds of things are you doing to prepare for Thanksgiving?

Home Again

November 20, 2012 | My Jottings

We just returned from six days in Florida, and my it’s good to be home again! Michael and I took our two Foster residents Betsy and Carrie to the four parks that make up Walt Disney World in Orlando, and our youngest daughter Sara took time off from her work as a floral designer to come along and help us. Her help was much needed, because walking several miles a day in warm sun is a bit tiring. Our Fosters have been saving and planning for this trip for almost two years, so they were beyond excited.

Every park (Epcot, The Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and The Animal Kingdom) had their bazillion Christmas decorations up, and carols played everywhere.

This picture is at the entrance of The Animal Kingdom, taken in front of one of their many African-themed trees.

Everyone has some favorite things about the trip, but the highlights for me were the fast rides. I have loved scary rides ever since I was a little girl, and Disney does their ride details like no one else.

The Hollywood Tower of Terror was the best, and the Rockin’ Roller Coaster (which I later learned takes the rider from 0-58 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds, supposedly faster than what an astronaut feels on the space shuttle), and Space Mountain, were close seconds. We also thought Expedition Everest at The Animal Kingdom was awesome. Best of all was sitting behind Michael on these rides and hearing him belly laugh from start to finish. (Each of the links I’ve given above has a short video you can click to get a feel for the ride.)

We saw hippos and giraffes about 20 feet from our safari bus, we ate Japanese foot at Benihana, we swam in our resort’s huge pool, we slept in past 8:00 a.m. each morning, we saw a Mickey Mouse Christmas parade that delighted our Fosters, so delighted me, we went on this ride and felt quite literally like we were flying, we went on scary rides and kiddy rides, we had unforgettable 🙁 flying experiences from Minneapolis to Orlando and back, and we made some good memories for our Fosters, I hope.

We usually go at least one special place a year with our gals, usually a summer cabin vacation up the north shore of Minnesota, or a concert, or something like that. This was a big trip for them, and I’m not really sure that Michael would be able to do another one, so we’re grateful we had this opportunity.

I’ll post some more pictures soon. It’s good to be home again, and I so look forward to spending Thanksgiving with my family.

God bless your week!

Experiment in Asymmetry II

November 19, 2012 | My Jottings

A while back I hung a group of our old transferware plates above our dining room mantel, in a swirly, asymmetrical pattern. But then I wondered what to put on the mantel once they were hung, because some odd-looking blank spaces were left.

I finally decided to have the wonderful square family photo that Sharon took and my family gave me for my birthday a year ago framed in black. And I chose three pewter candle stick holders to put on either side of the picture, and a jaunty little cardinal from my collection.

My first experiment in asymmetry was on a console table we have in our living room, and can be seen here.

Here’s my second experiment in asymmetry:

You can click on the photo to enlarge it. Because our kitchen is just to the right of this fireplace and has black granite counters, I’m trying to use black here and there to tie it all together.

I really have no idea what I’m doing, and figure I should hire Sarah Richardson to come in and give me a hand, but there’s only one thing about that idea — I have turned into a que sera, sera kind of decorator since moving to this new house, and that’s the end of that.  🙂

Recent Reads

November 15, 2012 | My Jottings

I haven’t been reading as much lately as I usually do, and I plan to write about that soon. It’s almost as if I allowed my reading times to be supplanted by something else, something sort of frivolous. I’ve had to take a hard look at it. But that will come another time.

Here are some books I’ve read recently, and a few I plan to read soon…

This one was recommended by my friend Kay in Cornwall, England. I believe the title overseas is Medieval Woman, and it was fascinating. I learned so much, and also felt immensely grateful for my running water and furnace after finishing this read.

If you’ve never read anything by Wendell Berry, I think you should! He’s one of the most brilliant writers out there, and his books make me think and slow down and savor and revel. Hannah Coulter might be my favorite by him so far, but I also loved Berry’s Jayber Crow.

Anne Lamott always makes me laugh. She has an edge to her that some readers might need to be warned about, but her writing is so astounding I have to occasionally put the book down and marvel at the way she turns her words. This one was co-written with her son Sam, and since I’m a fan of grandchildren, I loved reading about her love for her first grandchild.

My friend Ember introduced me to Barbara Brown Taylor, and after reading the exquisite An Altar in the World, I recently picked this one up so I could immerse myself in the beauty of her writing again. The author and I don’t see eye to eye on a few things, but that never stops me from learning, or from thoroughly enjoying the person and their books. This one below was about how she decided to let go of her vocation as an Episcopal rector and begin to teach college, but it’s so much more….

I’m not sure I want to read this book below. It’s sitting on my nightstand and I just finished the first five pages. I’m gripped. And I have a feeling I’m going to be ruined. My friend Su loaned Undaunted to me, and I know I must read it prayerfully and slowly. I’m a little afraid, and a little excited, and very expectant. Have you read it?

I kept reading really good things online about Lysa TerKeurst’s Unglued, from real people who say God really helped them deal with their emotions in a better way after reading this book. So I bought it. Maybe after I read Undaunted I’ll be so undone I’ll have to read Unglued. 

And this book below, called A Praying Life, also sits on my nightstand, quietly but persistently calling my name, day after day. I wish I could go away for a few days with this book and nothing else, but I don’t think that will happen soon. I might make this my Christmas read.

What have you read lately?

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 92

November 14, 2012 | My Jottings

You can spend your life being right, but you won’t be in love at the end.

Andy Stanley

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