Behind My Red Door

Behind My Red Door

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Fresh Start

Isn't that what each New Year holds for us? A fresh start? I like to think so. But actually, if we think about it, in reality, each moment can be a fresh start. We can all stop right now and start fresh - RIGHT NOW. We can work on changing behaviors we don't like, or thoughts we shouldn't have or start something new and different in our lives. Many of us tend to wait until the New Year when we don't have to. I guess it's human nature!

Mother nature on the other hand has given us in central MA a fresh start, that is for sure. We had over 20 inches of snow on the ground last weekend and with the rain and 60 degree temps this past weekend, our lawn is as green as can be. Only a few snowbank remnants tell the story that we had back to back storms not long ago. Maybe Mother Nature is telling us to learn from the past, but start fresh??

Behind My Red Door, I have given the living room a fresh new look. After putting Christmas away for another year, I did a little rearranging. When Franklin Schmidt, the photographer for Country Sampler was here in July, he asked me if I had ever tried my Homestead Chair under my big red shelf instead of against the railing where it has always been. At the time, I just didn't think it would work, but this past weekend, I tried it and I love it there. It seems to open up the room. It's a simple thing, but it feels like a fresh start.

I have said before that I like to think of myself as a 'glass half full' type of gal so in keeping with that, I believe that 2009 will be a fresh start and better year in many ways than 2008 was for so many. Yes there are still so many things out of our control, the wars, the economy, Wall Street, and so on. But there are so many things still in our control. How we look at life, how we treat each other, and so many other things ARE still under our control. Making each moment count for something. Making a lasting impression with our lives. We can all do that.

My sweet friend Bonnie from north central MA, also known as Prims4me over on Webshots, sent me the link to a WONDERFUL 3 minute video by Linda Ellis, called The Dash. The Dash, began as a simple poem that speaks volumes about why we are put on this earth. It's about what we do in the dash - the space between when we are born and when we die. Here are her words:

The Dash
copyright 1996 Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the beginning...to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth...
and now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;
the cars....the house...the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard...
are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what's true and real,
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
and more often wear a smile...
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read
with your life's actions to rehash...
would you be proud of the things they
say about how you spend your dash?

The poem is available in a gift book, framed print and journal from: http://www.lindaellis.net.

So as we end 2008 and head into 2009, many of us full of resolutions that may or may not last, let us all resolve to make to make our dash something we can be proud of. It is my only resolution for 2009 but I think it is a lofty one. I won't always succeed, after all I am human. But I know that the very next moment, I can start fresh and do better. I can always start fresh.

I leave you that as I make my last post of 2008. I have so much to be thankful for in 2008 - my lists are long, and one of the best parts of 2008 was 'meeting' all of you. And as I look forward to 2009 with so much hope and excitement, I look forward to sharing much more with all of you. Thank you for sticking with me this long. I'll see you in 2009!


Until then - hugs and Happy New Year, Linda

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Very Best Gift and My Big Rice Mix Secret

Good morning and merry day after! I hope you all had a magical Christmas. It was busy and hectic and wonderful Behind My Red Door. Despite some howling winds and downpours, Christmas Eve was delightful. My in-laws couldn't make it from SC this year, so the rest of us did our best to uphold the traditions - right down to shaking our camera's before we took our pictures. My MIL has a very temperamental camera and she can usually be seen shaking away before she snaps the picture. And we made sure we saved some of the wrapping paper as is their tradition too. And of course there has to be one or two gifts without tags so we could all guess who they belonged to.
Christmas morning brought bright sunshine - thank goodness! Poor Jen was up ALL night with water pouring into her kitchen. The insurance adjuster had been out and approved a new roof, new insulation, new ceilings in most rooms and even new cabinets and counters in the kitchen. That's how much damage was done. The landlord is wanting to take shortcuts but we are hoping he does the right thing and goes with what the adjuster approved.
After catching a few hours sleep, Jen came over late morning to exchange with DH and I and the rest of the activities began around 2. The Christmas Day crowd is much bigger so it was a festive day. By 7:30, DH and I were beginning the clean up and loading the dishwasher and reflecting back on another blessed Christmas celebrated with those we love.

I follow the blogs of several very talented quilters and I am always admiring the beautiful work they do. I was blessed to receive this gorgeous quilt as a gift. It is more country than colonial prim but it is the PERFECT colors for our big family room on the lower level of our home where I decorate much more country than upstairs. It has the navy, rusts, creams and reds I use down there so it will be lovely on the rocking chair. I love the fabric choices!! It is exquisite!

I also received the antique kitchen scale in my new header and this cute lantern below. I love the seed glass. I need to add my own votive or candles but haven't had time yet.

But the very best gift I received was the song my DH included in the gorgeous card he gave me. We both love Neil Diamond and he took one of his songs and changed some of the lyrics to suit us. It's simply beautiful and at this stage of our lives, we want for nothing so this is gift is more precious to me than any monetary or materialistic gift.

My love,

On Christmas and every day,
I wanted you to know:

The story of my life is very plain to read,
it starts the day you came and ends the day you leave.

The story of my life begins and ends with you.
Our names are still the same and our story's still the truth.

I was alone you found my waiting and made me your own.
I was afraid that somehow I never could be the man that you deserved.

You're the story of my life and every word is true.
Each chapter sings your name and each page begins with you.
It's the story of our times and never letting go and if I die today
I wanted you to know:

You have stayed with me, shared with me, cared with me
and have always been there for me. As I lie down to sleep each night
I know deep inside that our love for each other will continue to add
Chapter and verse to the story of my life.

Linda, the story of my life is very plain to read.
It starts the day you came into my life. Love, Dave


It was indeed the very best gift of all! Thanks honey!!
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Today begins the packing away of all things Christmas. They have been out for over a month now, so it's time to say goodbye and get them all put away for another year. As much as I love how the house looks for Christmas, the real pines are ready to be tossed and I am ready for a less cluttered look. I'll leave a few snowmen out for the month of January but that's about it.
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Remember these???

Several bloggers and friends have asked to please remember to share the secret to my budget rice mix. Well....the secret is there is that these are Mason Jar Safes - not really edible rice. Sorry if you were hoping for something to make your food budget stretch!! I made them for the adult kids and a few other folks. The kids got cash in there - the others got coupons for various things but you can hide anything small in there - cash, a key, jewelry. You could make these on a much grander scale and hide things like the kids cell phones, your hubby's remotes - just use your imagination!

When you twist off the cover you will see this: That is a toilet paper roll glued to the bottom of the jar. I used a rice mix all around it. To keep the rice from spilling out any time the "safe" is accessed, I used a generous layer of Fabri-tac permanent adhesive. I love Fabri-tac. It is better than a hot glue gun!! I buy it at my favorite craft stores. You can use a variety of fillers, I wanted mine to fool the recipients and because Behind My Red Door we live on a budget, the name seemed like a good play on words. When we were newly married and struggling, we got a budget book with envelopes and put the allotted money for each area of spending in the envelopes and when it was gone, it was gone. As our budget and salaries grew and we got more sophisticated with our money management, we stopped using the envelope because we started paying with charge cards that offer rebates. But I digress... I can't take credit for this cool idea for these safes because I got this idea from Char over at the Pickled Pepper Patch. (click on her blog name to get to her tutorial on making these). Char has the best ideas, tips and tricks so if you haven't been over there, it is worth a visit! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I had a really sweet email come my way right after my last post. Twigs, (aka Tiffany) the editor from Mercantile Gatherings sent me a copy of the article she had written to go along with the photo spread of our home which be will in the next issue. She wanted to make sure she had the facts correct. I have to tell you, it was so well written, it made me cry. Twigs really captured how I feel about our home, the treasures inside and as well as my family and our life. I can't wait for February when the magazine is due to ship. If you aren't familiar with this wonderful publication, click on the name to take to you the website.

So what is on your post Christmas Day agenda? Do you still have celebrations to attend? Family and friends to see? Whatever is on your calendar, I hope you continue to carry the Christmas spirit with you.

Until next time - hugs, Linda

Monday, December 22, 2008

Making headway and a beautiful sound.



After feeling stalled for a bit, I am finally feeling like I have a good handle on all the preparations for our two very different family celebrations. Is anyone else feeling like they are making headway? I hope so! What a good feeling. Sunday DH rolled 13 dozen (YES THIRTEEN DOZEN)Swedish meatballs while I did laundry and chores and cleaned up our family room JUST in case Jay, Ang and Brady needed to bunk here. They lost power for a few hours during the second blizzard in 3 days and their house was getting pretty chilly but then the power came back on and for that we are ALL thankful! I also got my pretzels all bagged and tagged (see above) , and more presents wrapped, read some more of my Christmas novel and did a few stitches on my little sampler.

Today, after some early morning snow clean -up, OK a LOT of snow clean up, I got my hair trimmed and then DH and I did the shopping for the last gifts I needed, and I got all that wrapped. I can cross that off now. I have never been this late in finishing and I won't ever again if I have any say! LOL Tomorrow, he'll run to the market to pick up the roasts we ordered and a few last minute things and then we'll be home until after Christmas. I will set the table for Swedish Christmas Eve and do some food prep and we'll be on our way.


Do these look familiar? I went outside last night to take some pictures of the snow and I realized they would look just like these from last year. We had a HUGE snowstorm on December 13th last year and this was the result. Pretty much identical to our back to back storms this weekend. Now you would think with ALL this snow, we would be guaranteed a White Christmas. However, with rain and temps in the upper 40's Wednesday, our family just may need an Ark to get here. I guess the ice storm, power outages and back to back blizzards weren't enough, some poor folks will now have flooded basements if the rain melts the snow too quickly. Many places have a thick coating of ice under the snow leaving no place for the rain to soak in. We are a hearty bunch here in New England but sometimes we can be tested to our limits too!
Still, we are all reminding ourselves, these storm do not generally destroy homes like the hurricanes, flash floods, tornadoes, fires fueled by the Santa Anna winds, and other catastrophic weather in so many other places. It's what we put up with to live in this beautiful historic part of the country I guess. And more than that, it's what we are accustomed to and what is familiar. This we can quickly recover from - unlike the above mentioned disasters. And it really is pretty and the kids have so much fun and the small family owned ski spot in town is thrilled. We need to support our local businesses after all. That's MY story and I am sticking to it!!
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I heard the most wonderful sound today!! Listen to this:
(click arrow to play)
That's my first grand baby's heartbeat. Not since I heard my own 2 babies heartbeats have I heard a sound so sweet. Angela is heading into her 2nd trimester and had her check up today and it just gets more and more exciting.
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I hope to post once more before Christmas Eve but just in case I don't get back here, I am sending my most sincere Merry Christmas to each one of my followers. Enjoy your celebrations of this magical season and being with family and friends May you enjoy the blessings of a peaceful holiday with those you love close in hand or in your heart.
Until next time -MERRY CHRISTMAS hugs to you all , Linda

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Whatcha Working on Weekend

Happy Weekend before Christmas!!
Can you believe Christmas week is here? With all that has gone on Behind My Red Door in the last few weeks, I feel like I missed half of December. I got up Saturday refreshed from a great night's sleep and ready to resume where I left off before my dental surgery (it started to feel better yesterday - 10 days post op) and the ice storm's after math. It was a great day Behind My Red Door.

I opened my front door to talk to DH as he was cleaning up the 11 or so inches of snow we got overnight Friday and all day Saturday, and I thought the wreath looked so pretty covered with snow. I think the neighbors thought I was crazy snapping pictures as the snow flew into the foyer. Only a fellow blogger would appreciate that scene.

These pics below were taken just as my sweet guy was done with the snow blower, shovel and snow thrower. Our driveway is pretty wide and for half of it the snow can only get thrown to one side. Then we have sidewalk that goes all the way around the house across the back to the deck off the kitchen. That deck is elevated and is our emergency egress in a fire so he has to clear all that and more. It's a pretty big job so I usually go out and help him but I needed to stay in and get other things done being that Christmas Eve is just days away. It snowed another 3 inches after these were taken and today we are in for 6-10 inches with high winds which may bring snow laden power lines back down. I don't even want to think of it.....

I love how dark and shimmery the brook looks right after it snows. You can see some of the trees that fell in the ice storm last weekend.


My boxwoods are smushed! Poor things - the ice last weekend and now all this snow. They are not having fun. I usually cut some to place around with my greens just before Christmas Eve but I guess I won't be doing that this year. This is what I see out my bathroom window. Some bunnies have a den under the shrub on the right. I love to watch them come out and graze in the morning - as long as they stay back here away from my perennials in the front.


So what's a Prim girl to do when the cold wind blows?? First she puts on Christmas Carols, then she puts on her apron and then she gets busy!! Here's my version of Leslie's Whatcha Working on Wednesday a few days late.

My first project was these gifts for some special people in our life. I made 6.

Yes it says Budget Rice Mix, and yes there is rice in the jar, but there is a secret too. Readers of Char's blog may remember her tutorial on these. I can't spell it out now or link to it because the receiver's of these may be reading this and I need to keep them guessing after all. If you remind me after Christmas, I'll share it with you then.

And then I made A LOT of these chocolate dipped pretzels - there are more on the other counter. Some lucky folks will get 1/2 dozen of these in little cello bags tied up with raffia and my home made tags. My original intent was to get cinnamon oil to flavor the red ones, but due the events beyond my control (like an ice storm, power outages and a blizzard) I didn't have the time to run around and find it. Somehow I don't think it will be missed.

And then I FINALLY got to finish cooking my Shortbread cookie dough. I have never left it refrigerated so long and I found I had to work it in my hands to warm it up before I could roll it into logs. (see previous posts for the recipe and instructions). Sandy - maybe that was why yours was crumbly - maybe you needed to work it a bit to warm it up too- I am sorry I didn't realize that when you asked me. It can't be too warm or it won't hold the log shape and it can't be too cold or it crumbles. I pretended that I was back at my preschool playing with play dough with the kiddos and I got it just right. This is how I set up...
I use my special Carl Larsson tray that my dear friend Chris gave me many years ago. I spread sugar on one side of the tray, and after dividing the dough into manageable pieces, I roll it into a log on the other side of the tray and then in the sugar. Once the logs chill a little, I slice them into 1/4 inch coins and bake them at 350 for 12 minutes.


This is the first batch that I baked. I put a piece of paper bag on my cooling rack because they are so small and because it helps contain the sugar that drops off. You can see the 3 in front of the plate are turned over. You don't want the bottom any more brown than this - just golden.

After they cool, I make up a small container for DH to keep him happy while saving enough for entertaining. His Nana always gave him a small container for his birthday (December 12 th) and she would look at ME when she told him he not allowed to share - and she wasn't teasing. I would never do that but I make sure he gets his special stash. If he wants to share it, that's fine with me. I then keep with tradition and put the rest in my old Whitman's Chocolates tin so they stay fresh. DH always waits to see how many are left because after all our Christmas entertaining is done, he gets the rest. You can see how tiny they are. They are like those brand name potato chips, you can't eat just one!


On today's agenda, I will bag the pretzels and DH and I keep another tradition and we will roll 6 pounds of Swedish Meatballs to bake off for Christmas Eve and to have leftovers. Because they are about half the size of regular meatballs, that 6 pounds makes several dozen. We'll put a Christmas CD in and roll and roll. My recipe - for each pound of extra lean ground beef- 1 beaten egg, 2 slices of white bread moistened with water, finely minced onion, salt, pepper and a few dashes of ground allspice. I bake them on my non-stick cookie sheets and freeze until needed.

And once that is done, I hope to relax and do some reading while DH watches football. Even the keeper of the home needs to relax sometimes. I have piles of books waiting for me but the Patriots game should be interesting in the snow, wind and frigid temps. Our Jay was a League All Star in high school and played when he was away at college too so I learned to love the game. So who knows which will draw me in more - the game or my books or the freebie stitchery from Primitives Betty's I started before the ice storm or the needle punch I want to start OR your fun blogs!! So many good choices - so little time. Most of my friends questioned how I would fill my time when I retired 3 years ago. They told me 50 was too young to retire and that I would be bored being home all day after running a school and working on community grants and being active in professional groups. And at first, I really missed it all but now, but slowly I I found rewarding activities to add to my agenda and now I feel blessed to be able to keep our home, do volunteer work from home and I don't have ENOUGH time for all the other things and projects I want to do. I am blessed!

Whatever you are doing this weekend, I hope it is a good one and you are safe and sound in a warm home with loved ones around you enjoying the spirit of the Christmas season.

Until next time - hugs, Linda

Friday, December 19, 2008

Traditions, Exceptions and the Aftermath

I am reposting this so as to not confuse everyone. As of 6:45 my parents once again have their power on.

I chose these 2 pictures because the red candle holder is an antique from Sweden and though it looks bright red in one picture, it is really a nice dark red with a great patina. It belonged to David's family and I love displaying it at Christmas. It looks perfect in my colonial prim home and I am proud to be able to carry on the tradition.
Yesterday DH and I got to enjoy a shortened version of one of our Christmas traditions. DH's parents are Swedish so we celebrate Swedish Christmas Eve with his family. Our menu is a shortened version of what it was when his Grandmother's were alive, but we still enjoy some speciality foods that we only get at this time of year. About a week before Christmas, the two of us head out for three stops. The first one is Helen's Bakery where we usually have breakfast - this year we skipped that. There we get our Swedish Christmas bread which is a rye loaf with dried fruit. We have to get a few loaves to freeze. DH loves to make it into toast. I get two Swedish coffee cakes, one for now and one to freeze for Christmas morning. This year DH suggested I get some Spritz cookies since I am running out of time to make cookies. They are homemade - just not by me. So we grabbed a tin of those as well. Some years we get some other goodies and this year it was a few fig squares since my folks love them. It was their mid afternoon treat yesterday.
Then we headed to the
Gift Chalet, a Scandinavian Shop where we get our different Swedish Cheeses - Farmer's Cheese and Bond Ost. Both are round wheels of cheese.


We use special cheese slicers that shave the cheese in very thin slices that we place on our hard tack or rye crisp. Sometimes we get some Medvusrt which is sort of like salami and we get that sliced just as thin. We always get both meat sausage and potato sausage and I usually get some Pepparkakor - a very thin and crispy spicy ginger cookie that DH's family loves. Sometimes I sneak a Swedish Almond cake into the shopping basket or some specialty napkins, but this year I was good!

At lastly we went to the grocery store to get many of the groceries we need for Christmas Eve and Day and we speak to the butcher and place our order for our 2 roasts. My family has had prime rib roast on Christmas ever since I started hosting it years ago and the butcher has come to remember our order every year. After all the upheaval of the past week, it was good to get to do those errands and keep our tradition alive. As we were waiting at the counter at the bakery, we talked about someday when we will take our grandchildren with us and let them pick out some of the special cookies they offer. I am already betting the Santa and Snowmen top the list.

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By now most of you know I am not into glitzy sparkly decor. I enjoy glitz and sparkle on my fingers and wrists and ears and around my neck and in your lovely homes, I just don't want it as decor Behind My Red Door. That holds true with my Christmas decor and ornaments as well. But as with most things, there are exceptions. Back in 1975, when we got married, my mom and I made my dress. We hand sewed the lace and there were pieces we didn't use - heavy leaf like shapes. That Christmas my mom presented me with about 8 of them - complete with green glitter. Normally I would see something like this and think - TACKY - but not these. They are special and will always hang on my tree.
And David's Nana made ornaments out of things like egg shells, wishbones and those little containers that hold jelly in the diners. a few of those will always go on my tree - complete with glitter. Here is a wishbone.

I also have the thumbprint ornaments my kids made in preschool - the school I later taught at and then was the Director of. I have some Swedish Balsa wood ornaments from the gift chalet, and a few ornaments that were mine when I was growing up as well as few from our early marriage. Many of our original ornaments actually belonged to Jay and Jen. They got them every year from us and other relatives. They both have an extensive collection. When they moved out, they took them for their own trees. That left me with a lot of freedom to go in a more prim direction while still using my special ornaments. For me it is the best of both worlds!


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The aftermath - part one...






These are just a few of the hundred or more of piles of trees and limbs in our neighborhood waiting to be cleared away.(They are NOW covered with a few inches of snow!) I took these on Thursday after DH and I did some morning errands. In places, the sidewalks are piled 6-8 feet high the full length of the person's front yard. It looks like someone let a few million beavers loose in the neighborhood. My mom's town just 30 minutes north of us looks 10 times worse. We took a trip to my folks house yesterday afternoon to clean out the refrigerator and deep freeze of all the melted and spoiled food left behind. (PEEE-UUU! ) I am so glad we got that job done when we did! It's a wonder the crews made any progress restoring power - but indeed they did! As of last night around 10 PM, they got power back. A neighbor was kind enough to call just as I got out of the shower. Immediately DH and I bundled up and made the drive to my folks house to turn on the furnace, run the water and make sure everything would warm up so my folks could get home this morning before the storm. I was so torn about them going, but they won't be alone. My younger sister Chris, her husband Bruce, and daughters Rachel 11, and Hannah13, live less than a mile from our parents. They are still without power. Originally, they all went to a resort hotel in CT last Friday when the power went out, but the last few days they have been staying closer to home with Bruce's mom. My brother Allan and his wife Cindy who live about an hour from us, kindly offered to host Rachel and Hannah for a few days because their school is closed until January. They headed there yesterday and are having fun with my brother's granddaughter Gracie. I am relieved that this weekend my sister Chris will stay with our parents and be there during the storm in case anything happens to the power again. It started snowing about 3 hours ago and already they have plowed our hill twice. It is coming down at the rate of 1-2 inches an hour and 12-14 inches is expected. I had a 1:30 appointment to see why I still am having dental discomfort and pain but I was able to postpone it until noon tomorrow - when the streets will be passable - I hope! We are still expecting 6 more inches on Sunday. And it is not even Winter yet.
By the time DH and I got home from my folks last night, they had already packed up all their belongings here so they could get going early today. They were so excited!! I sent them home with a bunch of food and clean laundry so they should be all set for a few days. My mom said her cat would not leave her lap. Last night when I was there, I held him and wrapped him up in the blanket (he felt so warm!) and I told him the heat would be on soon and his mommy would be home in the morning and he started to purr. I am so happy my folks are in the comfort of their own home. But there are still thousands living with family and friends, in hotels and shelters and with these back to back storms, it REALLY complicates repair work. Please keep all those folks in your prayers. Some may not even get home until January we are told.
EDIT: just as I published this, the networknews in Boston said that 25% of the folks in the town where my parents live still don't have power and won't until at least Monday.
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I still have not had a chance to bake the shortbread cookies that I told you about
here, so for those of you waiting for the instructions, here they are: After the dough has chilled for several hours, take small handfuls and roll into logs about 1/2 -3/4 inches in diameter. (the length is not important) Then roll all those logs in sugar - white or colored. Chill the rolls again and take them out one at a time and slice into coin shapes about 1/4 inch thick. Yes - they are tiny cookies. Lay slices on cookie sheet - allow a little bit of room for expansion and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes. You don't want the bottom too brown - just golden. I transfer to flattened paper bags for cooling. Store in airtight containers. They freeze well. They also pop into your mouth very easily - too easily. Sometimes I think I should just stick them to my hips and tummy! LOL- I'll share pics when I do bake them.
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I wanted to send a big CONGRATULATIONS to Robin over at The Robin's Nest on the birth of her new grand daughter Noel Grace. Noel is a true Christmas miracle! Robin, I pray the roads are soon passable so you can be with your sweet grand daughter!!
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Thank you for all the kind words this past week. I so appreciate all the kindness and support.
Until next time please stay safe if you are experiencing a late fall blast of ice or snow.
Until next time - hugs, Linda

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Getting it all done....

Well my folks didn't get their power back and I didn't get the cookies baked yesterday. My mom didn't feel up to it, so instead I wrapped everything I already bought. That said, sometime soon, I need to do some more shopping - a lot more. I have never been so far behind but I refuse to let it get to me. What gets done, gets done. That is my motto right about now. I have two big meals to make as well next week and I need some speciality foods for those. Fortunately, when we have Swedish Christmas Eve, everyone on hubby's side of helps with the food and on Christmas Day, my side help with the food. I still do the bulk of it for each meal but all the contributions really help. And with DH on vacation, we will somehow get the important things done. Today we expect clear weather, so I hope we can tackle some errands - if hubby is not fixing plumbing. When I was helping my folks do some laundry yesterday, I reached under the sink for the detergent and the bottle dripped on me when I picked it up. I had just used it and I always wipe it off before I put it back, so I knew it wasn't soap. Nope, the inside of the vanity was full of water. Just what we needed - not!! DH worked on it for awhile and so far, it seems OK.
Mother nature is is giving us 6-12 inches of wet heavy snow tomorrow with high winds and zero visibility and then sleet and ice on top of that Saturday. I cannot begin to tell you how devastating this could be for those without power - no hope of it being restored for days and then the potential for much more new damage. In addition, there are still down live power lines in many areas so some towns may have to cut power to places that just got it back in order to plow. Basically we are all at risk for loosing power. How's that for depressing news. Our dilemma is this - IF by some miracle my folks get power back today, do we let them go home, and risk them loosing it again and then having no way to get to them if that happens?? I can't begin to explain how stressful this is for them to hear. The town manager where my folks live was on the radio stressing to people to keep that in mind if they go home. Again, if my folks were OK with being here, if we had all the handicap accommodations my dad needs, that would be one thing, but they are not OK being here. They don't WANT to be here any more. They are past enjoying our hospitality. They are not having fun anymore - I hear my mom say that several times a day on the phone. Yes, they appreciate what we are doing to help but they want home. And at 80 and 87, who can blame them. When my mom heard the weather and was crying, I wanted to cry with her but I had to keep strong. My heart is just aching for them. I am not trying to be depressing, I am just keeping it real folks.

Okay, enough of that and on with some blogging normalcy for me. I have to have some sort of photo peek Behind My Red Door, right? Here are some of the gifts I wrapped. Several years ago I ordered an assortment of commercial size rolls Kraft wrapping paper, a few rolls of ribbon in a matte finish, commercial size rolls of raffia, some Kraft gift bags to match the paper and Kraft tissue paper to use in the bags. I have been using my stash for years and I am not even close to running out. I love mixing and matching them and they look great under the tree. Bright and foil papers are so pretty in other homes, but they just wouldn't cut it in this prim house. I like the Kraft paper so much, I now have Kraft paper and the matching raffia and tissue to use all year long. In the long run, I am sure I have saved a lot of money buying the commercial sizes. I always order from Nashville Wraps.

I was thrilled to be able to use green ribbon left from making the wedding invitations and centerpieces on two of Angela's presents. My mom did that the first year after I got married with the green ribbon left from my flower arrangements and I hope Angela enjoys it as much as I did 33 years ago.
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I promised a few more cute little ideas for the kiddo's. This first one is for for Snowman Kisses. You can see the saying in the second picture. Again, refer to the last 2 posts for all the instructions.



It says: "Snowflakes from heaven as white as can be, can build a snowman for all to see. He's cute and cuddly and full of good wishes, And wants to give you a bunch of kisses. " You would fill these bags with mini marshmallows, white chocolate chips, or yogurt covered raisins.
Here are a few graphics you can use:





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Another cute idea is Penguin Poop. Of course the kiddo's LOVE this one. You can use chocolate raisins, or cereal like Cocoa Puffs, or chocolate chips.


It says 'While visiting the Artic what do you think I found? As I was on the snow and ice, this was laying on the ground. I bagged it up and saved it, then someone told me the scoop, those brown little tidbits, are genuine Penguin Poop!



You could use the Polar Bear graphic and change it to some Polar Bear Poop as well.


I have ideas like these for every season - I just need to remember to share them! It's that darn CRS I have!


I want to send a big CONGRATULATIONS to my friend Wendy over at The Cozy Yellow House on the birth of her first grandson Logan who arrived on the 15th. I am so excited for you Wendy!! Enjoy each and every moment with Logan!!

Next time I will have the rest of the instructions for the shortbread cookies (see previous post).

Until then, stay safe and warm!!

hugs, Linda

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

You Are Worth a Mint!

Hello - is anyone out there?? I am feeling so isolated LOL! Except to get my stitches out yesterday, (I have a little relief) and helping my parents at their house twice since Thursday, I haven't been out of the house in over a week. Several social engagements were canceled and nothing will happen today, that's for sure!! Mother nature is dealing us another cruel blow. We have 2-3 inches of snow on the ground with sleet now coming down on top of that. A little sun tomorrow and then SIGNIFICANT accumulations of snow on Friday. We all just pray that my parents street gets hooked up to power tomorrow when the sun shines again briefly. I won't go into details, but even though we are all doing the best we can to make them comfortable here, they are just so tired of not having their comforts and worrying about the cat. The fact that my dad has a significant handicap and mobility issues really doesn't make it easy to "make-do" as so many people suggest. They could stay here as long as they wanted - but they don't WANT to be here and it is really wearing on them today. Please keep them in your prayers so they can get home where their environment is set-up to accommodate them and not vice-versa. Thanks so much!
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On a more cheerful note, a dear friend made and sent me this pretty little tuck in pillow for Christmas. Isn't it darling? I love how I can tuck it so many different places. It is so Colonial and perfect!

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I am trying to find ways to make my mom feel included so last night, we made up the dough for David's favorite cookies -Shortbread. It's the only kind I am making this year. I ran out of time with all that has been happening. We all love them so I am not stressing about making any more. The recipe is simple: 1 cup of butter - no shortcut's here. You need to use the real thing. Cream that with 1/2 cup of sugar. Add 1 tsp cocoa powder. Then slowly add 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour. My DH's late Nana kept the cocoa part secret for years and wouldn't tell me why mine didn't look like or taste just like hers. She also insisted you had to work the flour in by hand. Well if I can find a way to simply something without altering it's integrity, I am all for it. So this is how I make mine... in my stand mixer with the paddle. It works great and my cookies now taste just like Nana's.
Once you mix the dough, you need to cover it and chill it for several hours or overnight before you make the cookies. This is what it looks like all mixed. When my mom is up to helping me bake, we'll make the cookies and I'll post the rest of the pics next time.

Yesterday I shared a cute idea for Reindeer food and promised another cute idea today. Please refer back to yesterday if you missed it so this one makes sense. Using any of the graphics below, you make a bag topper and fill the small bag with either mini candy canes, or starlight mints. You can make it more personal by using a child's name, or changing the word kid to parent, brother, sister, teacher etc.



I have a few more cute Christmas ideas similar to these and I will share them and our cookies, the next time I get a chance to blog - hopefully tomorrow!! right now I am off to play short order cook. Until then, please stay safe and warm. I know many areas of the country and Canada are experiencing winter storms.

Until next time - hugs, Linda

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Reindeer Food - a fun idea!!

Good evening blogging friends! My mom helped me put together this post so I could show her how I make a blog post. My folks have given up the hotel room and are here with David and I until their power comes back on- no date in sight. With the storm coming, it was safer to have them here over night than have them travel from the hotel here during the day. The beds were better there, but my cooking is better and they have room to spread out. So tonight we are blogging, tomorrow we are baking DH's shortbread cookies and wrapping. I decided it was about time they earned their keep! (wink wink!)
Over the years, I have amassed a collection of fun little ideas for the kiddos for different holidays and seasons. Some we used at school, but most of them I made for the kids with cancer that I send gifts and cards to. They are perfect to tuck into a card or when I put together a Christmas Box with something for each child in a family for each of the 12 days of Christmas. I usually sign up for a family with several children and most of my ideas work well for a wide age range.
One of my favorites is a liitle bag of Reindeer Food to sprinkle outside on Christmas Eve. I made a bag topper with either of the reindeer graphics in this post, and included this verse on the back:
"Sprinkle on your lawn at night, The lawn will make it sparkle bright. When Santa's reindeer fly and roan, This will lead them to your home. "

In the bag I put a mix of salt (or sugar) blue glitter (you can use silver) and oatmeal. I use the little treat bags you get at the craft store. I buy a bag of 100 because I use them for a variety of things. The size of the bags are 4.75 x 3 inches. The toppers are approximately 3 inches square.

Bag with reindeer food and topper folded and ready to staple in place:

Reindeer food all ready to go - front:

Back:
I use a program that allows to me to place my text and graphic within a box but you don't have to do it this way. You could print your text, and print the graphic and glue them on a 3 inch square of card stock if you don't have that type of program. Here is another reindeer graphic you could use. I have had these graphics for years. Please feel free to right click and save them to use.

Next time, I'll show you a great little idea to show a child how special he/she is using starlight mints or mini candy canes.

Until next time - hugs, Linda