postponements and cancellations

We spent yesterday watching a major winter storm move through. Our daughter’s friend, who was visiting for the week from Chicago, had to go home a day early to miss the storm. We were afraid we wouldn’t be able to get her to the airport because of the blizzard conditions being forecast. It’s a good thing she was able to go home yesterday, as the airport cancelled most of the flights.

And the family Christmas for Saturday was also postponed. For the second time. Some family members have to drive too far to risk the weather.

The weather was so peaceful the past few days that it was hard to believe we got 10″ of snow with this storm.

evening sun

DH keeps his bird feeders full year round. We really enjoy watching them from the kitchen window. With the weather turned bad, the birds have been feeding more heavily than ever.

Carolina Wren

busy bird feeders

My brother made the bird feeder for us. It is extra tall so it’s easily seen from the first floor windows. Our first floor sits about five feet above ground. The stand holds four feeders and has a handy hooked pole to lift the feeders on and off the hooks.

DH's bird feeders

Home, Sweet Home

home sweet home

Today the snow has passed us. The sun is shining but it’s -6* out there. Even the postal service was cancelled today. Stay warm! Stay safe!

~~Rhonda

happy new year!

We wish you joy in the new year!

2014

While areas north of us had a lot more snow, we received about an inch last night. Just enough to make things pretty out the window. Which is fine with me! I’m already thinking spring, and the sooner the better.

Our youngest daughter has a friend from Chicago staying the week and they’ve been busy in St. Louis seeing the sites. My daughter is on the right, her Chicago friend in the middle and one of her best friends since early grade school on the left.

fun at the city museum

The next few days are quieter, then my family will be here Saturday for our postponed Christmas party. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate this weekend. Here are my parents and my sibs. The picture was taken in August, 2009. Mom passed away two years ago on Dec. 20. Her presence at family gatherings is always missed. Every time we got together, she wanted a picture of the entire family.

my parents and their children

Following is the menu for the Family Christmas. I’m making the pork. Everything else is being provided by family members.
Marinated Pork Tenderloin
Roast Beef
Cheesy Potato Casserole
Green Beans
Garden Salad
Jello Salad
Veggie Tray with Dip
Cheese Tray with Crackers
Christmas Cookies
Mississippi Mud Cake

I’m expecting lots of fun. Like these scenes from last year.

family Christmas party

family Christmas party

We’ll be having fridge food for dinner Sunday, I am sure. Sunday afternoon, my sister Margaret is bringing a few friends over for a house tour. We leave Christmas decorations up until January 6, which is Epiphany, so we’re good to go. We still have a library dinner to host. Then our scheduled holiday events will be done.

I usually start a new year concentrating on some serious crafting sessions during January. I’m looking forward to that. In February, we’ll begin watching for the crocus to bloom. Spring, spring! Can’t wait!

May your new year be blessed with many good things!

~~Rhonda

stained glass

We have a friend, Gary, who makes beautiful stained glass. I recently shared on Facebook the stained glass angel he made for me. I thought I’d share more of his work here. He certainly deserves the credit.

Gary surprised me one day by stopping by with a gift. The stained glass angel! In my absolute favorite color…cobalt blue! The wings are a rippled, shimmery iridescent. I took this picture early one morning as the sun came through the east window.

Stained glass angel

Stained glass angel

From outside…

stained glass angel

DH asked Gary to make stained glass for our upstairs bathroom, as a gift for me. I received the bottom piece on Christmas Day one year and the upper piece later the next year. It was so nice to take the curtains off that window, once the stained glass went in. The picture shows the ornament mobile that hangs in front of the window. My sister Genny put that together.

stained glass window

From the outside…

home sweet home

Here’s a close up of the bottom panel.

bubble tree

The downstairs bath features Gary’s work, too. I found this antique door in a shop near my sister’s house. The entire thing is held together with square cut nails. Even tiny ones, holding the window trim in place. I designed the windows with irises because I love the flower. Do you see the tiny butterfly in the window to the right? How Gary managed to cut the white glass to fit around the butterfly is beyond me!

Gary's windows

A detail from the window:

an iris in the window

Here’s Gary, just after the installation.

Gary's window

The room we call the “library” (functions as our family room) was originally a family parlor. In a 1921 remodel of the house, it became a dining room, with a built in buffet. We replaced the very arts and crafts style windows in the buffet with ones I designed and Gary made for us. They fit the color scheme and style of the house better than the original ones did.

stained glass windows in the buffet

Gary, as he installed the windows.

Gary and his window

Gary even made ornaments using glass from a hanging lamp a friend made for me when I graduated from high school. The lamp was falling apart, but I loved the glass with its dark shades of blue and green. Now I hang these in the window year round. They remind me of my friend Terry who made the lamp and they remind me of my talented friend Gary who has a generous and loving heart.

snowflake

~~Rhonda

Christmas Day 2013

I hope you had a good Christmas! We had a lot of fun here. Traditions and family, both make the day a good one! We had our older son and his family over. We did miss our oldest grand-daughter. She is out east visiting family there. And we missed our oldest daughter who is also out east, spending Christmas with a friend. Our second son and his wife visited a few weeks ago for a long weekend. It was wonderful to see them again.

DH brought me breakfast in bed. Can’t beat that for starters. We spent the morning getting ready for the family to arrive for lunch. We like to have appetizers and finger foods. Makes the meal easy and also makes for easy snacking the rest of the day/evening. We had:

We used the Christmas china and the Christmas glasses of course. Rose Red was delighted! “My plate is beautiful!” she said. Christmas jams were optional.  BTW, she is sitting in a chair I used as a child. More family traditions!

appetizers and finger food for dinner

appetizers and finger food for dinner

After dinner, DH read the account of the first Christmas from a 150 year old pulpit Bible we have. Snow White asked him the other day if he was going to read the same story from the big book that he read last year. When he said yes, she suggested he read something different this year! I had to laugh. She loves to read. Maybe we’ll ask her to read the story next year and see what she says.

time for the Christmas account

The stockings had been hung on the staircase with care. The twins helped Auntie take them down and pass them around.

handing out the stockings

Christmas Day!

I found these very cute Christmas measuring spoons in my stocking! Love them!

found these in my Christmas stocking

SO ready to open presents!

Snow White and Rose Red

Snow White spent a lot of time in her vet outfit working on her patient, a little blue dog. “What’s wrong with him!? I’ll listen to his heart! He’s too hot! He’s too cold! He needs a shot! He needs a bandage!” Over and over and over!

veterinarian costume

Chef Rose Red…ready to bake cakes and cookies!

Chef Rose Red

Mama teased her that the chicken hadn’t baked long enough. Bwak, bwak!!

The chicken didn't bake long enough..it's still squawking!

Rose Red stopped opening gifts long enough to read a new story book.

new books, new adventures

And after the toys and games and books…more fun with the wrapping paper!

Hiding under the paper...as much fun as any toy.

It was almost dark by the time we were done. We watched a movie (during which I fell asleep!), then the grands went home. I went to bed. So nice to snuggle down with some stocking treats, some quiet time, and a soft warm blanket!

I hope your Christmas Day was as joyful as ours was!

~~Rhonda

two sleeps till Christmas

Our son called last night and asked if I could watch the twins today while he does some Christmas shopping. This morning I woke to the phone…we’re here! Oops! I scurried around and finally let them in. The girls were excited because they had been allowed to sit in the FRONT seat of the car while they waited for Ma to get her act together. The little things are so exciting to them!

The first thing we did was take a picture for Pa, so he could see what he was missing while at work!

picture for Pa

They’re never here long before the girls ask for a snack. And that can mean spills. But they are good at cleaning up! Team work.

oops...cereal spill!

Auntie found Christmas cups for the girls. Another exciting moment! All the little things in life are an adventure when you’re six years old!

Christmas cups

I am grateful for the luxury of ice and filtered water from the refrigerator. But to the girls it is just plain exciting to get your own ice and water. They aren’t quite old enough to realize what a blessing it is to have cool water at your fingertips.

help yourself

Snow White likes to keep the chalkboard up to date. Two more days until Christmas!

2 days till Christmas!

Rose Red loves, loves, loves this sweatshirt I made about 25 years ago when her daddy wasn’t much older than she is right now. I found material at the fabric store for making a soft cloth book with the story of the nativity. I used those panels to decorate sweatshirts for the four kidlets and one for DH. Bible verses were applied using fabric paint with writing tips. They were worn for years, the younger children growing into the larger sweatshirts that had belonged to their older siblings. Now the grands get to wear them. The girls’ sweatshirts had decorated necklines, so this one was probably the one that belonged to our older son, the twins’ father. I think our other son had a green one. It’s amazing how well they have held up!

Christmas sweatshirt

After snacks and playtime and lunch and playtime, the girls needed something else to do. It was a good thing we had all those empty amazon.com boxes and a roll of duct tape!

empty boxes and duct tape

empty boxes and duct tape

empty boxes and duct tape

empty boxes and duct tape

And finally…some bowling!

bowling!

It’s been a busy day! Who needs TV when we have empty boxes and bottles, duct tape and scissors, toys and books, and a coat closet big enough to serve as a play house? Not to mention butter, which Snow White informed me is the required ingredient for sticking sprinkles on your toast.

Ma, do you know why we put butter on our toast?

Just a note to all my readers who have asked about me lately…thank you for your concern. I can’t believe I’ve gone this long without posting. I haven’t been in great health for a few years and this season has seemed harder than most. I have managed to keep up with our holiday parties and commitments thanks to my family, my sisters and my friends who pitch in to help me have the Christmas I love. Thank you to all of them!! I apologize for the lack of posting and I will try to do better!

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ november 18, 2013

It has been a long week. Last week I was very sick for four days. Bad chest/head cold. I didn’t leave the recliner from Sunday night till Friday morning except for necessity. Needless to say, nothing toward Christmas prep was done during that time. Genny came Saturday morning, as well as my dear friends Marsha and Paul. We all worked hard on Saturday. DH and I put the beads and popcorn/cranberry strings on the living room tree. One box of ornaments (of three) was emptied and the ornaments are on the tree. A ways to go there.

Sunday morning, I rested while Genny visited a friend who lives nearby. On her way back to our house, Genny got a call about the tornado that hit Washington, Illinois. Genny’s daughter and her family live there. Meanwhile, we were under a tornado warning, as well! As information came in, we found that Genny’s daughter’s house was hit. Thankfully the family was at church at the time and are all safe. The house needs a new roof and some other work. It was on the edge of the worst damage. Just two houses down from them, Genny’s son-in-law’s mother’s house was also damaged.

We appreciate your prayers on their behalf. It will be a long haul to get everything cleaned up, repaired, and rebuilt.

After all that, it is hard to settle down and contemplate something as mundane as the week’s menu, but here goes.

Monday
Chicken and Rice
Garden Salad

Tuesday
Roast Beef
Mashed Potatoes
Steamed Green Beans
Garden Salad

Wednesday
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Garlic Bread
Green Salad

Thursday
Fridge Food

Friday
Mongolian Beef with Broccoli
Rice

Saturday
Lentil and Sausage Soup
Homemade Rolls

Sunday
Tacoritos
Lettuce, Tomatoes, Sour Cream, Cheddar Cheese
Tortilla Chips

You can find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ november 11, 2013

We had a good weekend of Christmas decorating with my sister Genny and middle daughter here to help. We finished the Putz tree, displaying some of the little glitter houses I have made. Genny found the white tree at a thrift shop for $12. The stand was broken, but DH made a box for it. We covered the box with white paper and pale blue tulle printed with silver snowflakes.

white Christmas tree

Genny also worked on the Twelve Days of Christmas tree on the chalkboard. Still a bit more to do there.

12 Days of Christmas

And in the middle of November, Genny found a few violets blooming in the yard. God’s reminder that there will be spring and warmth and sunshine again!

November violets

Next weekend, Genny will be back and my friends, Marsha and Paul, are coming to help, as well. Should be a fun weekend!

The menu for this week is as follows:

Monday
BBQ Chicken Sandwich
Homemade Buns

Tuesday
Lemon Chicken Tortellini
Garden Salad
Steamed Broccoli

Wednesday
Ham and Beans
Cornbread

Thursday
Crock Pot Rotisserie-Style Chicken
Rice
Roasted Carrots and Potatoes with Rosemary

Friday
Fridge Food

Saturday
Hearty Lentil Soup
Carrot and Celery Sticks
Cornbread

Sunday
Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs
Garden Salad
Homemade Rolls

You can find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ november 4, 2013

Another weekend of Christmas prep. Genny and I worked on the chalkboard tree. I drew the patterns and Genny did the chalk work. We’re doing a “Twelve Days of Christmas” theme on the chalkboard this year.

12 days of Christmas

12 days of Christmas

This was last year’s chalkboard tree.

chalkboard Christmas tree

I’m looking forward to seeing the finished project!

Here’s the menu for the week. Another soup because soup is just plain the right thing for this chilly dark weather. We have friends coming next weekend to help with decorating and Genny will be back. Moving right along with Christmas prep!

Monday
Fridge Food

Tuesday
Cheesy Broccoli Soup
Crackers

Wednesday
Crock Pot Chicken
Rice
Rosemary Bread Sticks
Sauteed Zucchini and Summer Squash
Garden Salad

Thursday
Cheese Tortellini with Mushroom Sauce
Garden Salad
Steamed Green Beans

Friday
Carry Out

Saturday
Hearty Lentil Soup
Ham / Turkey Sandwiches
Veggies / Dip
Chips

Sunday
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Homemade Sauce
Garden Salad
Steamed Sugar Snap Peas

You can find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ october 28, 2013

We have 17 of 22 Christmas trees up now. Making good progress. My sister Genny comes each weekend she is able, to help with the decorating. We appreciate her help more than she knows. She keeps us motivated!

We finished the Nativity Tree on Saturday.

Nativity Tree

Our cousins, Mona and Carmen (sisters), came over Saturday to help, as well. They washed all the pie plates on display in the kitchen, washed the kitchen shelves and contents, and also washed the shelves that contain some of my collection of Christmas plates. They did a great job on the Nativity Tree and also on the Three Kings tree. Thank you, Mona and Carmen!!

Christmas plates

extra helping hands

Last weekend, Genny and I worked on taking everything off the garland we have used on the banister for many years. It was looking tired. This week, I worked on fluffing the garland to help it flow in one direction. Then I spent some time with a needle nose plier, bending back the ends of some of the “pine” branches so the exposed wire wouldn’t scratch anyone. I put some of the old items back on, including some “sugared” fruit and red berries. Then I added some gold pine cones, some more glittered red berries and some glittered and some shiny ornament balls. I have some pretty red ribbon to finish it off, once it is attached to the banister. A lot of work, but I’m very happy with it.

banister garland makeover

I’ve also made the dough for Elfin Bits, and made the Oatmeal Ice Box Cookies and the Nutmeg Logs for the freezer. And yesterday, I made the chocolate centers for Chocolate Creams. Those will be thawed and dipped in dark chocolate a few days before the party.

Oatmeal Icebox Cookies

Holiday Icebox Oatmeal Cookies

We are moving right along! I’ve warned the kids to get their Amazon.com wish lists up to date. It’s time to start shopping for Christmas. And the twins have a birthday coming up, so we’ll be celebrating that soon. Time is passing by quickly!

This week’s menu is late being posted, but it was ready to go Monday morning and we have been sticking to it.

Monday
Tacorito meat for Burritos [I just made the meat mixture and we used it on tortillas, rather than using the oven. I was baking cookies all day...]
Taco Chips
Sour Cream / Lettuce / Tomatoes / Cheese

Tuesday
Mongolian Beef with Broccoli
Rice

Wednesday
Sauted Shrimp
Homemade Rolls

Thursday
Oven BBQ Pork Steaks
Mashed Potatoes
Steamed Green Beans
Green Salad

Friday
Chicken Tortellini Soup
Rosemary Bread

Saturday
Chili in the Crock Pot
Crackers
Veggies and Dip

Sunday
Lasagna
Green Salad
Homemade Rolls
Peas / Corn

Tomorrow I plan to make another cookie recipe or two. I’ll keep you posted.

You can find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday. Laura, the blog host, has been posting her weekly recipe there every week since July 31, 2006. And she invites us all to join in. Being accountable to posting my menu to her site keeps me in the menu making frame of mind. I’ve blogged my menu since May 5, 2008. Seems like a long time ago…I haven’t made every single week, but have posted most of them. Like I said, it keeps me planning!

~~Rhonda

triple chocolate cookies

This fall, I have been making cookie treats for the high school band when they travel for competitions. Our youngest daughter is a member of the band and I have enjoyed helping them in this small way. If there is one thing I can do, it’s bake cookies!

Friday, I made these very delicious cookies for the band.

Triple Chocolate Cookies

The band got first place and the cookies got rave reviews! The recipe came from the blog Smells Like Home. I changed the recipe a bit. If you don’t have molasses on hand, use the white sugar / brown sugar combination in the original recipe. By adding M&M baking bits to the recipe, I made it a triple chocolate cookie rather than the double chocolate in the original recipe.

Triple Chocolate Cookies
Makes 7 dozen small cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 T unsulphured molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup good quality dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup M&M semi-sweet baking bits

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350˚. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and molasses together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.

Blend in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

On low speed, stir in the cocoa powder and vanilla until well blended.

Measure the flour, salt, and baking powder into a separate bowl, stir together, then add the flour to the mixing bowl and mix on low speed just until incorporated.

Fold in the chocolate chips and the M&M baking bits with a wooden spoon.

Using a small cookie scoop, place dough on the prepared baking sheets. [I was able to place 24 on each baking sheet. They did not spread much.]

Bake for 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies freeze well and would travel well, if you are mailing gifts. College students would appreciate a box of them, I am sure! The cookies could be spruced up with some frosting or a dip or drizzle of chocolate.

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. I no longer buy any brown sugar. I make it myself. That allows me to control the richness of flavor of the sugar. A light brown sugar is made by adding one tablespoon of unsulphured molasses to one cup of granulated sugar. Dark brown sugar is made by adding two tablespoons of unsulphured molasses to one cup of granulated sugar.

When a recipe calls for brown sugar, I don’t mix the sugar and molasses before adding to the recipe. I just add the white sugar and the molasses to the mixing bowl at the same time.

Another molasses tip: Adding a couple of tablespoons of molasses to a bread recipe helps the bread stay soft and moist.

~~Rhonda