Monthly Archives: November 2014

Christmas Decorations At My House

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My Christmas bottle collection. I bought one and decorated the other two.

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My snowman collection. 

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Decorating the dining room table is always fun. I try to change it a little bit each year but typically stick to the red and green color scheme.

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It is fun to decorate the banisters of our stairway. The first year we were in our house, we put a little tree on the landing. It has become its permanent spot every Christmas since.

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Our cat Pushkin loves to sit near the tree on the landing of the stairs. He blends in with the white, red and green decorations perfectly.

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Here is a peek of our Christmas tree reflected from the mirror in our living room.

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Filed under Decorating, Holidays

Wonderful Thanksgiving

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My table was decorated this year with burlap, acorns and feathers. It came together gradually. I got the burlap and natural materials first then thought of the feathers at the last minute.

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Some of the dishes included my sister-in-law’s fabulous macaroni and cheese and brussel sprouts. I made a different stuffing this year with apples, dried cranberries and sausage. It came out pretty well. I think I will have it again next year.

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Here is a picture of my mother’s delicious and famous brown sugar pie. We ask her to make it every year. It is always eaten up first even though there are other selections including pumpkin and pecan pie.

I am thankful to have spent another Thanksgiving with my wonderful family.  There are fewer of us as years go by. It was good to have my mother, my brother, his wife, my niece, my nephew, my sister-in-law, my son and my daughter all at the house with my husband and me. We don’t see each other often throughout the year so it is special when we can all be together. I love you all so very much.

We spend so much time preparing the table, decorations and food. In no time, we are cleaning it all up and saying good-bye to our guests. I am learning with each passing year to savor the time together more. In this way we can enjoy what matters most and not sweat the small stuff.

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The Salvation Army Bellringers

As I was running errands this past week, I noticed several Salvation Army bellringers stationed at different locations in my town. There was one in front of the grocery store on the most frigid day that we have had around here in quite some time.  She was bundled up in multiple layers of clothing.  I was grumpily complaining to myself that I could not find a parking spot closer to the store. I dashed from my car towards the store and passed her near the store’s entrance.  I felt rather convicted that I was more concerned about my own comfort than helping others.  I dug into my purse for some coins to relieve my guilt.

Later in the week I came across another bellringer in front of our local Hobby Lobby store.  It was another cold day and I was greeted again by a volunteer with the most pleasant disposition. She was also layered from head to toe to provide her with some warmth for the many hours that she would have to stand there. I contemplated how someone could have such a courteous and unselfish attitude despite the personal discomfort she must have felt.

As I was leaving the store, she was still standing there. She passed along a blessing as I put some loose change in her bucket.  As I got in my car, I looked back at her. She never stopped smiling or ringing her bell and even began singing. She seemed happier than any shopper that I had come across throughout the day. Perhaps she had a secret that many don’t know. I am sure she closely knew her Savior.

We are truly more blessed through giving to others than we are in getting for ourselves.  It was a timely reminder around Thanksgiving to be thankful to God for all the many ways He has blessed us and be mindful of others who are less fortunate.

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Filed under Holidays, Winter

Alas, the common hickory nut

100_2867I was out raking leaves in my yard the other day and thought I had discovered a treasure.  There were gobs and gobs of nuts falling from shells that had landed on the ground.  I must have missed them last year or perhaps squirrels got them before I noticed them.  When I inspected them more closely, I found some that were cracked open enough to reveal inner nutmeats. They looked alot like pecans and smelled like walnuts.  I began envisioning all the delicious pies that I could bake for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mouth began to water. I quickly collected as many as my little bucket could hold.

My neighbor passed by while taking a walk. I asked her if she could identify the mystery nuts.  At first she also thought the nuts could be an edible type but she suspected they were more likely hickory nuts. She suggested I Google them.  I learned that in fact I had hickory nuts.  There are some common and uncommon types. My tree was of the more common variety with a plain bark instead of a scaly kind. Unfortunately, the nuts from the common tree have a bitter taste.  The hickory nut also is about the most difficult nut to crack. There are some practical uses for the nuts. They can be used to add flavor to meats by smoking them under meats on an open grill. Some people have cooked the nuts to create hickory milk. Making the milk is a labor-intensive process. It takes a long time cooking the nuts in water until the meats fall out of their shells. The meats and shells must be strained out of the liquid. Only then can the milk be used to flavor dishes with the hickory flavor.

After I finished my research on the hickory nut the excitement over my discovery began to subside. I realized that using the nuts for anything other than decoration was improbable.  Store bought nuts for pie use suddenly seemed pretty appealing.  The common hickory nut is a disappointment for human consumption……but the squirrels still love them!

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Filed under Fall

Getting My Table Ready For Thanksgiving

I have been rummaging through my cupboards to find old decorations that I have used in past years to set out on my Thanksgiving table. I will use the turkey salt and pepper shakers that I found at an antique store.  I will display the pilgrim couple that I found one year at an outlet store. Memories flood100_2853100_2852100_2851 back to me as I pull out the gravy boat in the shape of a turkey.  I found it in Boyds, Maryland when we lived outside DC.  There was an antique store there in about 1986.  That is about all there was there then. I also purchased a bear there for my daughter before she was born. It must have been one of the first Boyds’ Bears before they became collectible.

This year I will use a new serving piece although it is not new to our family.  My mother passed the turkey platter on to me last year when she moved close to us. She said I should have it since we have been hosting Thanksgiving dinners at our house the past several years.  It has a crack in it but I wouldn’t think of leaving it out of our family celebrations since we have used it to serve over 50 Thanksgiving turkey dinners through the years.

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Amazed At God’s Beauty All Around

It has been a glorious autumn day here in South Carolina. I took photos of the spectacular color of trees in my yard and neighborhood. The yellow, gold and red leaves were particularly stunning against azure blue skies.  All I can say is God’s handiwork is amazing.   Nothing on earth can compare to the beauty that He creates.

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Filed under Fall

Another Framed Family Heirloom

Here is a treasure that my mother has hanging in the guest bedroom of her condo. It is a christening gown and pair of booties that were passed down through her family.  Her grandmother and aunt  wore them first.  Then she wore the dress as a small child during a baptism ceremony.  Pictured below are both her and her aunt wearing them. The other picture is of her grandmother as an adult 100_2792since no photograph was found of her as a child. I had the gown, booties and photographs mounted in a shadow box for a gift to my mother one Christmas.  She was thrilled as she has been the family historian and geneologist for many years.

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Filed under Antiques, Artwork