Saturday, December 31, 2016

Farewell to Christmas; Hello to the New Year

Waiting for the kids' plane to land at Denver International Airport

While many people spent this past week putting away Christmas and shopping the sales, we celebrated Christmas on the 28th. Here is a quick photo narrative of some of the highlights:

Cookies and milk left out for Santa before we all went to bed
breakfast on Christmas morning
waiting for Christmas dinner
the family's favorite BBQ brisket recipe for Christmas dinner
Granddaughter Number 5 had dinner on the
My Little Kitty plate
Everybody except the one who succumbed to a post-dinner nap
working off the Christmas goodies at a local park;
yes, those are cars in the parking lot in picture on the right;
the steps are very high up and STEEP!
those from the Land of Flip Flops
dressed warm for the cold

Grandson Number 6 made a snow angel 
We had lunch one day at the Garden of the Gods
relaxing together on the last evening
As I bring this post to a close, the East coast is ringing in the New Year. I wish the very best to all of my readers!

Friday, December 30, 2016

A Devotional Book Suggestion

My regular readers know I'm a fan of Dr. Charles Stanley, Southern Baptist pastor in Atlanta, Georgia, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, author, and photographer -- to name just some of his accomplishments.

One of his books is Every Day in His Presence, a daily devotional that takes the reader through every day of the year. I love this book.

Each devotion is only one page in length and explains a verse from the Bible with great practical applications. Nearly every morning when I pick it up, I read something of value to me on a very personal level. Dr. Stanley addresses all sorts of problems, questions, and just out right conundrums that perplex me. I look forward to what God has to say to me through His Word and this man every day.

If you are looking for a devotional book to start off your new year, look into this one.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Looking to 2017

S and G's dining table

As we look to 2017, I wonder (as I do every year) what can I do to make it better than previous years? 

Planning ahead and then carrying out the plan! often works well for me. Making those plans on the heels of an event is good, too. That way whatever worked and whatever failed is fresh on my mind, effecting better ideas for the future.

What kind of things do you think about as you approach a new beginning, such as a new year?  I'd love to hear from you. We learn from each other.

There is no Hodgepodge today as our hostess takes a much-deserved break for Christmas and family.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Still Celebrating Here

beautiful lights at our neighbor's home

Today's post is a little of this 'n that. We are still celebrating Christmas here.  Santa plans to stop by here twice within one week.

Son and daughter-in-law went to the Christmas Eve service with us and we followed that up with dinner here and a gift exchange. 

Christmas Day we spent quietly at home, needing solitude after a busy and stressful holiday season. It was peaceful until we turned on the Bronco/Chiefs game that evening -- awful. But moving on...

Guess what I got for Christmas?

A red bike! Yes, for me! I had asked for a bike on my Christmas Wish List and Santa came through. But if you look closely, you see that it's sitting on the coffee table. Today Beloved climbed the ladder and put the bicycle above our kitchen cabinets.

I have a little collection going up there. This is all I plan to have. I like the simplicity of the bicycles silhouetted against the tan walls.

While I'm on the subject of gifts, neighbors gave us this cute set of beverage coasters:

I've been been pondering the truth about how "Bad Decisions Make Good Stories."  Yes, that's true and I could tell some stories on myself... but not today.

I said we are still celebrating Christmas. Surfer Girl and her family are flying in tomorrow for a few days. These people who wear flip-flops daily are coming to introduce snow to the grandchildren. 

We've had great hopes to go sledding with the kids. However in spite of our -3 degrees below zero and blinding snow with ice a little over a week ago, we now expect sunshine and highs in the 40s and 50s for their visit.  We now proceed to Plan B...

Friday, December 23, 2016

Light in the Darkness

photo of Castle Rock by Colin Shreffler

As we approach our town from the north, we come around a big bend with evergreen-covered mountains on either side. Then rather quickly, a sprawling valley opens up before us.  It is a dramatic sight at any time, but during December it is a nearly biblical view. 

Atop the huge rock for which the town is named, there is a man-made star lit up for all to see from miles around in every direction. Below that rock the town spreads out. 

From that line of thought it is not hard to imagine the angelic host appearing over the meadow to shepherds tending their flocks by night. The scene reminds me of the carol, "O Little Town of Bethlehem."

While the scene sounds idyllic to us, in actuality so many centuries later, it was a terrifying sight to the men to see the sky so suddenly lit up like that. Other than the occasional shooting star, they were not accustomed, as we are, to much of anything moving in the nighttime skies. There were no airplanes, no satellites, no fireworks, no drones -- nothing at all like that.

We have to use our imagination to understand that amazing scene. Something very wondrous, unusual, and yet predicted for hundreds of years, was taking place. The birth of God's plan for our salvation was happening in a quiet stable not too far away.

The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light. 
For those who live in a land of deep darkness, 
a light will shine.
Isaiah 9:2 NLT


For unto you is born this day

in the city of David a Savior,
which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you;
Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 
lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host praising God,
and saying,
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace,
good will toward men.
Luke 2:11-14


The virgin will conceive and
give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel
(which means God with us).
Matthew 1:23

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Getting Ready

our dining table
I've got no real post for my readers today ... we are busy helping Santa get ready for the arrival of little people (and their parents) in a few days.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Reflective Hodgepodge

Enjoying the hospitality of neighbors

It's been A WEEK here and I won't elaborate on that. Suffice it to say that the beautiful Christmas season is not immune to the school of hard knocks. But I believe God has something to say to me in all circumstances, be they pleasant or troubling. 

Recent devotional readings and sermons have told me when adversity pops up, we should ask God what it is He wants to teach us. Apparently it was time for me to wake up to some things. But with that said, my joy in this season is high.

Today I am participating in the weekly Hodgepodge put out by Joyce at From This Side of the Pond. Tomorrow I'll link up with other bloggers who are answering the same questions.

P.S. A few days ago I thought I was done with blogging until Christmas but if I have time to write more, I will. It's one of my best forms of relaxation and creativity.

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Here are this week's Hodgepodge questions and my replies.

1. What's left to be done on your Christmas to-do list? 

We've got a thing or two that needs to be wrapped and put under the tree, and I need to do some cooking-ahead.

2. The Hodgepodge lands on the first day of winter this year. What's your favorite thing about winter? 

My favorite thing about winter is living in a state where it snows every year. When I was a little girl, my family lived in upstate New York for two years where there was a lot of snow (a LOT). Then we spent the next eight years in Southern California. Sister and I longed for snow after that. As adults our dreams came true. She lives in the upper Midwest and I live in the Rocky Mountain West.  We both get plenty of the white stuff.

3. In what area of your life are you immature? Feel free to elaborate or not. 

(smiling) Now why would I want to give an honest reply to this question? Those who know me well know the answer to this question and those who don't, don't need to know. (I'll be very interested to see how my blogging friends reply to this one.)

4. What was the most (or one of the most) important lessons you learned in 2016? 

When you fly high, you are a target. When you fly low, it's a little safer but perhaps not where  you are supposed to be.

5. It's Fried Shrimp Day...are you a fan? What's your favorite way to eat shrimp? Will there be shrimp somewhere in your holiday feasting? 

I like fried shrimp, but the holiday feasting in my house this year will feature beef, chicken, pork, and vegan dishes.

6. What sound lulls you to sleep? 

My husband's snoring. Just about anything will lull me to sleep. I usually doze off in front of the television at night. It's unusual when I don't. "When I sits I sleeps."

7. What one word best describes your 2016? 


8.  Insert your own random thought here.

A collage from earlier this week ...

So thankful for a good man and a long marriage

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Linking up with 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Merry Christmas to All

This is my last post for the year as we prepare for Christmas. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas season. 

Be gentle, be kind, be generous when you can, forgiving and forbearing -- all because our Lord has done that with us. 

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Mid-December Hodgepodge

this is a tray on display in my kitchen
It's time for the questions from Hodgepodge Wednesday. Joyce supplies the questions and bloggers respond. Then we link up at Joyce's blog. If you blog, join in!

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1. Are you more task oriented or people oriented? Explain. 

I had to ask Beloved the answer to this one. He said I'm both, depending on what I'm doing. 

2. December 15 is National Wear Your Pearls Day ... do you own/wear pearls? Everyone share a 'pearl of wisdom' with us here today.

Yes, I wear pearls (bracelets and earrings). Pearls communicate to me purity, calmness, and sophistication. 

As for a pearl of wisdom, there are so many. I'll share this one: Take care of your skin. Find a cleansing and moisturizing routine that works for you and stick with it daily for the rest of your life. 

3. Speaking of pearls ...oysters? Are you a fan or not? No. If you answered yes, tell us your favorite way to eat oysters. If you said no, be honest -- have you ever tried one or does just the idea of eating an oyster make you gag a little?

No, I have not tried oysters. I usually don't eat shell-type fish (but if somebody else is paying for the lobster, I'll make an exception).

4. Time Magazine has named President-elect Donald Trump Person of the Year. Let's take presidents and presidential candidates out of the mix for a minute. If a political figure had not been chose who would you name Man or Woman of the Year for 2016?

My vote would be for Ben Carson, a soft-spoken man with a lot of knowledge, wisdom and practicality in all I've heard him say (and in his writings). A man like that gets my respect and admiration. I believe he is a fine example for all of us that often gets overlooked even though he is out there in plain sight.

5. The Pantone Color of the Year for 2017 has been announced, and it's a vibrant green aptly named - greenery.  Your thoughts? Is this a color currently in your home or wardrobe? Will you add something in this shade for the new year? Click here to see the color.

It's pretty but not a color I particularly want to wear. I would use it in floral arrangements or in a quilt.

6. Today I've had too much ________.

Too much to do and not enough time, but what's important is getting done.

7. Share a favorite lyric from a favorite Christmas carol.

From "Mary, Did You Know":

"And when you kiss  your little baby, 
you have kissed the face of God."

8. Insert your own random thought here.

a tip for pretty gifting
The Bowdabra has been around for years, but only recently did I buy one at Michael's. I used it to make the gold wire-edged ribbon on the gift bag pictured above. Yes, you can make bows like this without a tool like the Bowdabra, but this invention makes it so much easier and truly fun!

Another random thought: Blogspot is not cooperating with my editing. Please forgive the variety of font sizes in this post. I've done all I can to make it uniform, to no avail. (sigh)

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With today's Hodgepodge I am linking up with other bloggers at 

From This Side of the Pond

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Tweaking Christmas Decorations

wreath in the family room
I must be losing it. This wreath hangs in my family room all year long. I change out the florals with the seasons. It's been a week or so since we finished decorating the house for Christmas. 

On Friday I realized I had completely overlooked this primary focal point in the room -- it was still showing off bright yellow silk sunflowers! 

Walmart had a wonderful bush of poinsettias with gold-tipped leaves, red and metallic gold balls, and a pine cone or two. I used needle-nose pliers to cut the elements apart, removed the sunflowers and tucked the Christmas pieces in-between the branches of the grape vine wreath. Ah! So much better.

... and yes, I know the winterberries are sticking out in a wild manner and drooping. I like that tousled look. Beloved isn't so sure about it, but he lets me make the final decisions in most decorating matters, so it stays as it is.

The Brown Bungalow
Another oversight on my part: the absence of red bows on the porch garland.  Today I corrected that and I am amazed what cheer some touches of red can create.

My last topic for this post is regarding our Christmas cards. With the exception of a few people on my list who don't work with the Internet at all, we send all of our cards out via email.  I also have a website that I devote solely to our Christmas newsletter, sent to select people only.

Our church encourages the members to bring their [paper] Christmas cards to the foyer where the cards are arranged alphabetically for people to pick up and take home -- saving postage.

Beloved and I are sending our cards to our church friends via email and now I'm sharing it with you as well. I designed it with my Printshop 2 program making it into a small jpg file so it comes across the same way a single photograph would show up in an email.

Saturday, December 10, 2016


Photo Credit

At this time of year emotions, buried much of the time, tend to come to the surface. As we age, many memories have accumulated. Some are wonderful and others are not.

While I am no counselor, I do have a couple of ears to use when people want to talk out those emotions. I can listen, perhaps ask an occasional question to help the speaker clarify their thoughts, not so much for my understanding but for theirs. It's odd but so true that sometimes all a person needs to do is to say the words out loud and then while those words hang suspended in the air, the solution becomes very apparent to them -- without the listener having to say a word!

This week a writing friend of mine posted today's photo on Face Book, asking his friends what came to mind with this scene.  I suppose due to the gray tones and dense fog, most of us lean toward some darker thoughts of contemplation, including me, although at the time I was of a pretty cheerful frame of mind, so my impressions were on the lighthearted side.

I envisioned myself sitting on that bench with cold feet and perhaps cold hands if I had forgot my gloves. Leaving the bench to find a cup of hot chocolate, gloves, and perhaps to put on warmer socks were my thoughts.

In thinking about the fog, I remembered the words to a song by Michael W. Smith, "This is the Air I Breathe."  Perhaps you have heard it sung at church. 

The fog is cool and dense, enveloping everything around it. I think of the air I breathe, which contains God as the Holy Spirit all around me, even as intimate as the breath inside my lungs and the oxygen in my blood. 

God is so personal, so completely in and around us, that we are never alone, never left to ourselves without Him being right there -- right here.

I have always believed that, but it was put to the test a few years ago when I suffered an accident that surprised and shocked me so much I did actually wonder if God had deserted me. The bewilderment went against what I had been taught and believed all of my life.  

But even then, my Heavenly Father assured me He was still with me; I was to just trust Him. The physical recovery was terribly painful and took a long time, but never again did I question God's intimate abiding Presence with me. He is the air I breathe.

This is the Air I Breathe, by Michael W. Smith

This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me
This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me
And I I'm desperate for you
And I I'm lost without you
This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me
This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me
And I I'm desperate for you
And I I'm lost without you
And I I'm lost without you
And I I'm desperate for you
And I I'm lost without you
I'm lost without you

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Deep Into the Christmas Season

Gumdrop tree belonging to Joann

Today the Christmas party scene began for me with a most festive open house at the home of my Bible study leader. Her home was beautifully decorated for the season with plenty of 'eye candy,' including this Gumdrop Tree. How many of my readers had one of these in your home when you were growing up? This stirred up pleasant memories of how my mother liked to decorate.

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It's mid-week, so it's time for the Hodgepodge questions. I'll give my answers and then link up with the other participating bloggers and Joyce at From This Side of the Pond.

1. Let's talk holiday decorating. On a scale of 1-10, where do you fall? (1=Scrooge and 10=Clark Griswold) What's your favorite corner-room-table-space to decorate? Is it done?

I'll say Beloved and I decorate on a "6" because although we have a lot of decorations inside the house (and out), there are plenty of people who have far outdone us.

I guess my favorite place to decorate is the tree in the family room because it just wouldn't be Christmas around here without that. We start with that tree and everything else comes after that.

2. Is there a nativity scene in your decorating somewhere? Post a picture or, if it's special to you in some way, tell us why. Or do both -- it's Christmas!

Porch Nativity and small set in the kitchen
Yes, we have 5 nativity sets (two of which are pictured above). My favorite is the small ceramic one in the kitchen. It looks like little children in a play and reminds me of a story I often share at Christmas. 

My children were ages 6, 4, and 2. The eldest was tagged to play the part of Joseph in the church Christmas program. He was so excited until he realized he was to be the Joseph-married-to-Mary and not the Old Testament Joseph who got to wear the Coat of Many Colors. 

3. Do you live in a social neighborhood? if so are you glad? If not do you wish you did?

We are blessed to live in a very nice neighborhood but not as social as some we've experienced in the past. Probably my most social neighborhood was in 1981-1984. Having school-aged children in the home tended to make us more social because we interacted more with the neighbor kids and their parents.

4. As the saying goes, 'there's no time like the present.' How does that ring true in your life right now?

I'm not sure how to answer this one. While I might think this is THE time to do such-and-such, experience has taught me that my sense of timing is not always good. I'm not nearly as impulsive as I used to be.

5. Do you dread Mondays? Why or why not?

Not at all. I love any day of the week since my home is my workplace and Beloved is now retired. (note: homemakers never retire, but for the most part, I'm okay with that)

6. Poinsettia, Christmas Cactus, Amaryllis -- which on the list is your favorite holiday plant? Are any of these on display in your home right now?

Poinsettias are my favorite, but if somebody else would take care of them for me, I'd be happy with any of the choices given. I like to decorate with silk poinsettias. Last year I made poinsettia tree ornaments:

this one is on the tree in our master bedroom

7. Share a favorite poem from a Christmas movie.

This is not a poem but it's a line from "The Nativity" by one of the wise men: "If I'm right, and I usually am ..."  

This ALWAYS makes me smile and sometimes I even quote it to Beloved when I'm trying to persuade him to my way of thinking.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

from the shopping district of my town

This is a fun picture I took last week of a cross walk while I was shopping in our little downtown. I thought it was so clever and fun.

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Linking up today at 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday Night Entertainment

downtown Castle Rock

We had a quick errand to run after supper this evening that took us to the historic part of our small town, the "main street."

the heart of our historic district 
We've got the most amazing blue-lit tree in the lawn of one of our government buildings. This picture doesn't capture the true size (HUGE) of the tree with its blue lights that command the attention of all who pass by.

dessert and a movie

When we got home, we watched the Hallmark channel movie, "Looks Like Christmas" and had dessert.  Both were delightful.

The dessert was gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free, my version of a banana split:

Barb's Banana Split 
(makes 2 servings)

1 banana, split in half, lengthwise
chocolate chips (the dairy-free kind)
toasted walnuts, chopped coarsely
shredded coconut
pure maple syrup

Place each banana half in a long dish (I used my corn-on-the-cob dishes). Sprinkle the chocolate chips, walnuts, and coconut along the length of the banana, then drizzle some pure maple syrup on top. Serve immediately in front of a good movie!

colorful laser lights coming in the shuttered window
We topped off the evening with cups of de-caf coffee and watched the laser light show that comes in through our family room window providing some interesting entertainment.

laser lights on the wall

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Finishing Touches on Christmas Decorations

Beloved's study tree

This is my last installment of blog posts about my Christmas decorating. Today we start off in Beloved's study. He's got his own tree filled with ornaments that family and friends have given him that reflect his hobbies, interests, and career.

A fish, of course!

A seat at Sports Authority Field at Mile High

Beloved has never been to a live Bronco football game, but he is most certainly a fan.

Leaving the study, I'll give you one guess as to which room has these quilted Christmas stockings.

stocking pattern inspired by Eleanor Burns of
Quilt in a Day
When our Christmas guests arrive, these stockings will be in the way, so I'll take them down. But in the meantime, they are a cheery touch in a rather unusual place.

a large quilt on a wall in my sewing room
Moving on now to my sewing room, I use a quilt on the wall as a bulletin board of sorts. I pin notes to myself, patterns I'm working on, and during this season of fun, Christmas ornaments.

an ornament by Mary Engelbreit

handmade in about 1990
This is Ruthie Reindeer. I made her years ago with long cinnamon sticks for arms and legs, felt, and small twigs for antlers. The antlers fell off and I haven't got around to replacing them. She's a little too long to hang on the Christmas tree ... 

a window above one of my sewing machines
provides good light
... so I find other convenient places for my little friend.

sparkles in a corner
Now we are in the master bedroom. A lit Christmas tree adds a bit of magic that I enjoy.

Mistletoe suspended from the ceiling fan is a fun accent, too.

purchased at Michaels just a few weeks ago
This brings my series of posts to an end on the subject of Christmas decorations.  Of course, Christmas is so much more than the pretties we display, but they do help to spread cheeriness and fun as we celebrate the most important birth to ever take place.