menu plan monday ~ november 30, 2015

This is a very busy week for us. We will host our annual Christmas Open House this coming Sunday. There is a long list of things to finish before Sunday gets here. Today, I did some baking and made some truffles. I have five or six items that can’t be made until Thursday or Friday, so those will wait.

I mixed together a double batch of Peppermint Meltaways and put that in the fridge. I’ll bake them tomorrow. Then I made Butterscotch Gingerbread cookies. These spicy cookies make the house smell SO good! And they are as delicious as their smell promises. I topped them with white chocolate and sanding sugar because they are for the open house, but they are delicious on their own, without the party clothes.

Butterscotch Gingerbread cookies topped with white chocolate and sanding sugar.

I made the Oreo Truffles which seem to be everyone’s favorite. They are stored in the fridge since we are so close to the big day. I have frozen them in the past without any trouble.

Oreo Truffles

I kept the menu simple. We don’t have time to put a lot of effort into meals this week. Fridge food (leftovers) will be important for lunches! Tuesday, Thursday and Friday menu items will be made in the crock pot.


Irish Stew

Irish stew

Chinese Takeout

Smoked Pork Shanks and Ham

Alton Brown’s Pot Roast
Homemade Rolls

Pot Roast or Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Homemade Buns
Fresh Veggies and Dip

Ham or Turkey Sandwiches
Fresh Veggies and Dip

Older Son is coming Wednesday to help DH with plugging away at the to-do list. My sister and my daughter-in-law will be here Friday evening through Sunday to help with the last minute party prep. I can hardly believe it is almost time for the Open House!

The cats seem fine with the hustle and bustle. They go about their business and let us go about ours. This evening, Clark tried to make friends with Cedar. Cedar was more receptive than usual. Perhaps they will become friends. Clark sure hopes so!

Clark and Cedar are becoming more friendly.

You can find many menu ideas at Menu Plan Monday.


thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving was only three days ago, but it seems like a week. We have managed to get a lot done since then!

Older Son and his family came on Wednesday evening to stay overnight. They do the bulk of the cooking for Thanksgiving and had prepared quite a bit at home. On Thursday morning, they were up early preparing the turkey and some sides.

Pa went to church for the morning service of Thanksgiving. When he got home, he had a piece of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pie for second breakfast. Snow White had a plate of whipped cream. What can I say? Life is good at Pa and Ma’s house.

Second breakfast

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

We planned to eat mid-afternoon, so we had plenty of time to pull out a Christmas puzzle to work on while we kept an eye on dinner prep. The puzzle was about an inch too big for my puzzle board, so DH found a piece of plywood to use.


Everyone pitched in, helping to keep up with the dishes. When dinner was over, there were not that many to clean. And a lot of those went into the dishwasher.

Everyone helped keep up with the dishes

Middle Daughter helped the twins with the annual candy-turkey-making. They made turkeys for everyone’s place setting.


Candy turkey

Rose Red wasn’t very perky when she sat down to dinner. She didn’t want to eat anything and asked if she could be excused. She rested on the couch while we ate dinner.

Turned out she was sick

Later, when we took her temp, we found she had a high fever. Some meds helped her feel better and the fever came down. But the next morning, she threw up. Poor baby! She is feeling much better now, though I think I caught the bug and have spent Sunday in the recliner trying to keep my stomach on an even keel.

But on Thursday, I felt fine and even enjoyed a slice of the Vegan Pumpkin Pie. It was good. Not quite pumpkin pie-ish. But good. And the crust came out pretty well. Our daughter-in-law suggested using Crisco butter flavored sticks instead of vegan butter in the pie crust for an improvement on the flakiness. Will try that next time.

Vegan pumpkin pie

We had a wonderful dinner. All the food was so delicious. Such a great reminder of how very blessed we are by our Heavenly Father.

The next morning I was greeted by Snow White. She informed me, “If I look sad in the morning, it’s because my eyelids don’t work right when I’m tired.”

If I look sad in the  morning, it's because my eyelids don't  work very well when I'm tired.

Then she helped by filling the Advent box with peppermints. Two behind each door. One for her and one for Rose Red.

Filling the Advent box

DH, our daughter-in-law, and my sister worked hard on Saturday and Sunday, preparing for the Open House next weekend. I FaceTimed with DH to guide him through putting away things in the craft room. Because of health issues, I’ve had a desk downstairs for the past few months where I can craft without climbing the staircase. Twenty-two steps is a long haul when your knees hurt. But the craft room upstairs needed help. DH and his crew took care of it. While we worked together via FaceTime, Winston climbed the desk chair to check out all the hustle and bustle.

FaceTime with Winston

Don’t you love the blue ceiling in the craft room? I think the only white ceiling we have in our whole house is the upstairs hall. The twelve foot ceiling and the space over the staircase make that ceiling hard to paint.

Even though we had a little virus going ’round this weekend, we did have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and a great weekend of prep for the Open House. The upstairs is ready. The downstairs needs some tweaking, but DH is home all week, so I have some helping hands. Most of the decorating is done. I have a long to-do list but much of it was whittled away this weekend and we have the rest of the week to take care of the rest.

We hope your Thanksgiving was spent in gratitude for all the blessings you enjoy. May God make us more aware each day of all He does for us.


menu plan monday ~ november 23, 2015

Only four days until Thanksgiving!

Days until Thanksgiving

We will have a busy week, with Thanksgiving and more Christmas Open House prep. There are three or four trees left to put up. Three easy ones and one big one. Otherwise, it’s tweaking and fluffing and cleaning. My sister and I will go room to room today and make a list of all the “tweaking” than needs to be done. Some simple, some more time consuming. But it will be nice to have a list. Much easier to delegate that way. And we do have quite a few helping hands.

Last evening my sister, I and Middle Daughter finished all we could on the living room tree. All that is left is the tiptop. DH will have to climb the ladder to put on the last bit of tinsel.

Living room tree

Older Son and his family are coming to spend the night on Wednesday. They do the bulk of the Thanksgiving dinner, including the turkey. I enjoy watching them work together in the kitchen.

Ham or Turkey Sandwiches

Lentil Veggie Soup

Chicken Tortellini Soup
We may enjoy our Thanksgiving desserts Wednesday evening and have leftover desserts on Thursday…if anyone has room for dessert after our Thanksgiving feast!

Thursday Happy Thanksgiving!
Pork Tenderloin
Vegan En Croute
Mashed Potatoes
Oyster Stuffing
Regular Stuffing
Sweet Potato Casserole
Green Beans with Mushroom Sauce
Acorn Squash with Honey and Walnuts
Corn Bread
Sauteed Greens with Garlic
Cranberry Sauce
Macaroni and Cheese
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cheesecake
Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Fridge Food (what else!?)

More Fridge Food

Spicy Shredded Pork
Homemade Buns
Green Salad
Roasted Cabbage with Maple Bacon

You can find many menu ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34


mints and almonds

After making Minty Cream Cheese Truffles and Almond Truffles, I was hoping to bake Mint Meltaways today, but DH says the freezer is full. We’ll have to eat the turkey before I can get anything more in there.

Minty Cream Cheese Truffles. Really good. I’ll post the recipe soon.

Minty Cream Cheese truffles

Minty Cream Cheese truffle

Almond Truffles. Also yummy.

Almond Truffles

Almond Truffle

Winston found the laundry basket a good place for a snoozle.


Later, he cozied up with Ski for another nap under the Christmas tree in the upstairs hall.

Ski and Winston napping under the Christmas tree in the upstairs hall.

My thanks to Youngest Daughter for sharing the kitty pictures with me.

This evening, we finished the living room tree. It looks beautiful! Pictures soon. Tomorrow, Genny and I will go room to room and make a list of what needs to be done.

More soon! ~~Rhonda

freezer is nearing full…

I managed to get a few more things done for the Open House.

On Thursday, I finished the Raspberry Truffles and the Mocha Truffles. They are packed and in the freezer.

Mocha and raspberry truffles

Mocha and Raspberry truffles

Family came over Friday evening and they were a huge help, putting up two trees upstairs and helping with cleaning up the craft room. It had accumulated some storage boxes and other items that needed to be put away.

Today I baked the Sugar Cookie Crisps I made yesterday. It’s a soft dough and had to be refrigerated overnight before baking. I rolled it into balls and then rolled the balls in sprinkles.

Sugar Cookie Crisps

Sugar Cookie Crisps

Before, I have always rolled them in different colors of sanding sugar. I did make a batch of these with red sugar.

Sugar Cookie Crisps

I also made cream cheese mints and rolled it into balls to make minty truffles. I will dip them in almond bark tomorrow.

Making mint truffles

I made a batch of Chocolate Almond Truffles today and will roll those and dip them tomorrow.

DH finished putting the beads on the living room tree today. I put a box full of ornaments on the tree. More go up tomorrow.

Put on the rest of the beads.

Ski enjoyed watching us work on the tree as he lounged in front of the roaring fire. The fire was chalked by my sister last weekend.

Ski enjoys the ro<br />
aring fire.

My sister arrived this evening and will be here for two full days. We should be able to get a lot done! I’m looking forward to that!


rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…

Anyone feel a song coming on? Haven’t thought about “Rawhide” for a long time! But, (big surprise), I wasn’t moving cattle today. I was rolling truffles.

First, I scooped them.

Making mocha truffles. Step one - scoop.

Then I rolled them.


Raspberry Truffles on the left and Mocha Truffles on the right. Tomorrow I will dip the mocha in chocolate and the raspberry in almond bark.

Raspberry truffles on the left and mocha truffles on the right. Tomorrow I will dip the mocha in chocolate and the raspberry in almond bark.

I spent a little time at my desk. Sorted some beads.

Sorting beads

I also worked on the invitations for the Open House. I usually get them done long before now, but I’m finally rollin’ on that project, as well as the truffles.

Cat news for the day…Riley is enjoying her perch on the china hutch in the dining room. She is the jumping-est cat I have ever known. And we have had a lot of cats through the years. Riley is small, but she leaps with grace. She can jump to the top of the seven foot high cabinet with no problem. From there, she surveys her domain and finds it all good. Youngest Daughter took this picture of her.

Riley likes to nap on top the hutch, under the little Christmas tree. From 7 feet up, she can keep a watchful eye on the other cats.

Riley’s kittens turned six months old a few days ago. They are both bigger than she is. Sunday afternoon DH and I worked on hanging the popcorn and cranberry strings and the red beads on the living room tree.

Popcorn and cranberries for the living room tree.

The kittens were right there to help.

Clark wanted to join the fun.

Winston enjoyed beading the tree b

Clark and Winston play together and nap together. I think they will be buddies for the rest of their lives.

Nap time

Tomorrow I plan to bake Brownie Biscotti. I’ll let you know how that goes…


spent the afternoon baking

Today our older son came over to help around the house. He polished cabinets and furniture for me in preparation for the Open House. Such a huge help! After DH came home from his morning meeting, they worked outside, putting up Christmas lights. The porches are festooned, the carport is outlined in lights, and the big redbud tree by the front porch is full of white lights. Very pretty!

I baked Macadamia Nut – White Chocolate Chip Shortbread cookies. They were rolled in white sanding sugar before baking. Gives them a pretty sparkle.

Macadamia Nut - White Chocolate Chip Shortbread.

And Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread / These will be frosted with mint frosting and drizzled with chocolate the day before our open house. For now, they go into the freezer.

Chocolate Mint Shortbread. These will be frosted with mint frosting and drizzled with chocolate the day before our open house. For now, they go into the freezer.

After a few weeks of mostly cloudy skies and lots of rain and wind yesterday, today was bright and sunny. A little windy, but such a nice change from the dark days we’ve had. I took these pictures of some of the plants on the kitchen counter. I wanted to capture the bright sun and the beautiful colors…save them for the dark winter days ahead.





Hydrangea blossoms from the garden.

Autumnal hydrangea

DD bought a little battery operated toy for the kitties and we spent quite a bit of time watching their fascination with it. Made us laugh! Ski (short haired tuxedo cat), Clark, and Winston (ginger).

New toy. Fascinated cats.

By the end of the day I was feeling pretty tired and my leg ached, so off to the recliner for Netflix and blog posting. And tomorrow is another day. Maybe I’ll bake Brownie Biscotti and make Mocha Truffles.


scalloped soldered ornaments

I bought some scalloped copper foil tape and made some microscope slide ornaments with it today.

I chose pictures from my stash of old Christmas cards. (Thanks to everyone who has shared their cards with me! I so appreciate it!)

Making more ornaments.

Then, I put the pictures between glass and trimmed them.

Making ornaments

After adding a touch of glitter to the pictures, I foiled them and began soldering.

Making ornaments

I really like the extra flourish the scalloped foil gave the ornaments.

Soldered ornaments

I finished each ornament with a dangle.

Soldered ornaments with dangles

At our Open House, we will have a “Mission Tree” in the scrapbook room, decorated with ornaments I have made. As a thank you for donations to our church’s mission fund, guests may choose an ornament to take home with them. It will be nice to have something new to add to that this year.


menu plan monday ~ november 9, 2015

This week I have worked on adding some embellishments to the soldered ornaments. Here are the fronts of two of the ornaments.

Soldered ornaments - front

And the backs.

Soldered ornaments - back

It’s been fun to work on those. And I’m also working on a tutorial for adding the curvy wire to the ornaments.

I’ve also been baking for the freezer, stocking up on goodies for the Open House. Today I made Peanut Butter Cup cookies. I used the Honey Peanut Butter Cookies recipe for the dough. They turned out beautifully. They held together much better than using a tube of cookie dough from the store.

Peanut Butter Cup cookies

Here’s the menu for the week. I’ll be doing more Christmas baking, too.

Turkey or Roast Beef Sandwiches
Buttermilk Cheese Rolls
Sliced Cucumbers

Baked Spaghetti
Rosemary Bread

rosemary bread

Buttermilk Cheese Rolls
Roasted Cabbage


Smoked Pork Shank and Beans

Heat Free Chili
Cole Slaw with Peanuts
Celery Sticks

Delicious with a dollop of peanut butter.

mild chili

Spicy Shredded Pork
Homemade Buns
Veggies and Dip
Sweet Pickles

Cheesy Potato and Kielbasa Soup
Veggies and Dip

cheesy potato sausage soup

You can find many menu ideas at Menu Plan Monday.


tutorial ~ soldered Christmas ornaments using microscope slides

I have enjoyed making these Christmas ornaments for my side of the family’s Christmas party. Each of my Dad’s 60+ grands and great-grands will find an ornament in his/her stocking. These are all made with pictures from old Christmas cards. Just a side note to locals: I am always looking for more cards. If you have any to recycle or pass along, I am happy to receive them!

Soldered ornaments

Soldered ornaments

It’s a lot of stockings!

2014 family Christmas

The ornaments are fairly easy to make. The hardest part is mastering the soldering. I am new to this hobby myself. I have done my best to write a tutorial, but have also linked to videos that help explain a few things. The initial investment is pricey for a craft you may decide you don’t enjoy. I would suggest trying a class at a craft store or sharing a craft session with a soldering friend before buying all the needed tools. See if you like the craft before making the investment.

Supply List / I’ve added links to items I am using.

If using glass thicker than microscope slides, you may want to use 3/8″ copper foil tape rather than the 1/4″ foil.

I didn’t have a tile when taking these pictures, but I have since obtained a 12×12 tile. It’s a good idea to have something heat resistant to work over. I searched on and came up with some examples of what is available.

Don’t buy a cheap soldering iron. Mine is a 40 watt iron and it works great. Get an iron that comes with a holding station. It will have a cradle where the iron can be placed when you are not using it. Keeps your work area safe from the heat, including you. And get one with a dial so the heat can be controlled. Many stations will also include a sponge for cleaning the soldering tip. And a “power on” indicator light is a great feature. Helps you remember to turn the iron off when done. When I helped my sisters solder ornaments, we found that the cheap soldering irons did not work very well. They caused a lot of frustration.

Begin by gathering the pictures to use for the ornaments. I use Christmas cards. Family photos, online pictures, scrapbook paper, etc., can be used. Scan and resize pictures, if needed.

My glass slides were 3″ X 1″, so I cut a window, the same size as the slides, in the back of a card. That gave me a good way to preview the cards I was using for pictures, to see if they would work well or not.

Place the window over the picture you’ve chosen and decide which parts of the picture you will be using. I use cards that can give me two coordinating pictures. If you have a card picture and can’t make a coordinating picture with the same card, you can use wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, or other coordinating pictures to make the back.

making soldered ornaments

making soldered ornaments

Trace around the picture, using the window as a guide. You can use a microscope slide to trace, but be mindful of the sharp edges. I like the window because it keeps me from being distracted by the rest of the picture.

making soldered ornaments

Cut the pictures to size.

making soldered ornaments

Clean the microscope slides or other glass you use. Any dirt or fingerprints left on the inside will be there to stay if not removed now. I use an eye glasses cleaning cloth to wipe the slides clean.

soldered ornaments

Sandwich the pictures between the glass. Check that both pictures are face out and that the tops of the pictures are at the same end of the glass.

Level them by putting the long side down on the work area, so the pictures and the glass pieces are even on that edge. Using a craft knife, carefully trim any excess paper from the opposite side. Turn the glass and the pictures so they are sitting on a short side and do the same, trimming any excess paper or card stock.

NOTE: I start in the middle and, while holding the slides/pictures firmly with one hand, VERY carefully cut off the excess paper, starting in the middle and slowly coming towards myself. Then I turn the slides/pictures so I can cut the second half of that side in the same manner. Craft/Xacto knives are VERY sharp. Please be cautious if you use this method to trim the pictures.

soldered ornaments

Now is the time to add a little glitter to the pictures, if you want to. No glue necessary. Use a very fine glitter.

soldered ornaments

Use the tip of your finger to sprinkle a little glitter onto the picture. Being careful not to touch the inside of the glass with your fingers, put the glass over the glittered side, turn the ornament and glitter the other picture. I find it handy to have some small object at hand that I can set the glass slide on while I glitter the picture. Setting the slide on the work space can cause it to pick up small bits you don’t want inside the ornament. Setting the slide on something also makes it easier to pick the slide back up without smudging the inside of the glass.

soldered ornaments

Cut a piece of copper foil long enough to go around the glass edges with a 1/4″ overlap. For the 3″ X 1″ slides, the foil should be cut to 8 1/4″ long.

soldered ornaments

Remove the paper from about an inch of the foil at one end. Place the glass on the center of the foil, pressing down to adhere it to the glass. Work your way around the glass, peeling the backing off the foil as you go along.

soldered ornaments

soldered ornaments

Here is a site that does a good job of explaining how to foil glass.

And here is a video showing how to foil. How to Use Copper Foil Tape on Glass Pendant

This piece has been foiled, but the foil has not been crimped or burnished yet.

soldered ornaments

Crimp (fold over) the foil so it adheres to the glass. Start in the center of each side and work your way to the corners. At the corners, use your thumbnail or a toothpick or burnishing tool to miter the corners. Push the foil down on the long sides first (both ends) and then fold over the short sides.

soldered ornaments

soldered ornaments

Burnish the foil to insure good adhesion of the foil tape. I use the large end of a bone folder to do this.

soldered ornaments

Burnished and ready to solder.

soldered ornaments

I use what is called a third hand to hold the ornament while I solder.

soldered ornaments

Binder clips work well, too.

soldered ornaments

Flux is needed to make the solder adhere well to the copper foil.

soldered ornaments

You just need a tiny bit. Can you make out that clear circle in the clear container? It’s about the size of a nickel. That bottle is going to last me forever!

soldered ornaments

This picture is blurred, but you get the idea. Flux the length you plan to solder. Brush the flux on the top and the sides of the length.

soldered ornaments

Time to solder. Please watch some how-to-solder videos for hints and helps. Part of mastering it is practice, practice, practice.

Here’s a video on soldering. Soldering 101

And please read this soldering safety checklist. Safe Soldering Checklist

soldered ornaments

After I soldered the side of this ornament, the glass cracked. Probably from the heat. I’ve made about a hundred of these and this is only the second one that cracked. I used my craft knife to remove the foil.

soldered ornaments

After cleaning the replacement glass, replacing the foil, and burnishing it, I soldered it.

I don’t lay a piece on its side to solder as the example given in the video. Because 1/4″ tape is not very wide, laying down a bead of solder on the top will cause it to flow to the sides. (“Top” here refers to the up-facing portion of the foiled glass as it sits in the third hand. “Sides” means the sides of that one portion of glass.) Check both sides before taking the glass out of your third hand or clips to be sure both sides are well soldered. If not, touch the spots with your hot soldering iron and then melt the bead again across the top to even out the surface.

soldered ornaments

After you have soldered the top, it is time to place the jump ring. Hold the jump ring in the flat nose pliers, with the open spot to the bottom so it will be covered with solder when it’s done. Brush the join area on the ring with flux and flux the soldered area where it will be placed. Melt the solder on top the ornament, set the ring in place. Move the soldering iron back and forth to even out the solder. Check to see if the ring is well centered. Front to back, and side to side. If not, melt the solder, remove the ring and reset it, repeating the process.

Again, sorry about the blur…

soldered ornaments

soldered ornaments

Here’s one way to check for centered jump rings. Bull’s eye!

soldered ornaments

Or hold a ruler behind the piece before removing it from the third hand.

Soldered ornaments

Add another jump ring to the other end, if you want to add a dangle. You can use the same size ring as on the top or use a smaller one.

Soldered ornaments

When the jump ring is soldered into place, you can make a dangle or hang a charm.

Here are some different ways to finish your ornament. Beads, charms, bells, little ornaments meant for mini trees, etc. Some of these beads are from old necklaces that my sister picked up at thrift stores. Thrifting is a great way to find a wide assortment of beads.

Soldered ornaments

This tutorial video shows how to make your own head pins, which are the wires you string beads on for a dangle. I use the first one she demonstrates. Jewelry Tutorial: How to Make Eyepins & Headpins : Three Types of Wire Wrapping

Make your head pin long enough to accommodate all the beads you want to string. I cut wire 2 1/2 inches long for my dangles.

This tutorial shows how to wrap the end of the dangle, making a loop for hanging it from the ornament. How to Wire Wrap a Bead Dangle : Wire Wrapping Tutorial – Jewelry Tutorial HQ

This is a good video about how to make your own jump rings.  Making Your Own Jump Rings – The part of the video you need to watch for making jump rings for our project starts at 4:50 and goes through 12:10.

After I attached the dangle to the ornament with a jump ring, I soldered the jump ring closed so the dangle wouldn’t fall off.

This is a picture of the jump ring before soldering. You can see where it comes together.

open jump ring

Close up.

open jump ring

Flux the jump ring and then solder it.

soldering the jump ring closed

Closed jump ring. Now there is no chance of losing the dangle.

closed jump ring

These are some of my favorites…the ones I plan to keep for myself.

Soldered ornaments

Soldered ornaments

Soldered ornaments

I hope you give these a try. They are a lot of fun to make. My grands and I made some together. They picked their pictures and decided which beads to put on their dangles. They assembled the dangles and I did the rest. It’s not a child friendly craft, but we managed. Plenty of warnings about soldering iron safety (“NEVER touch it.”) and a helping hand with those parts they were able to handle. I wish I had taken a picture of their finished ornaments. Very cute!


If you have any questions about the process, please ask. I will do my best to clear things up. This was a long post. Thanks for hanging in there! I hope it inspires you to give soldering a try.