:: Time to reflect ::

Now, as we reach the end of the year, it is the perfect time to reflect on the last year.
I love creating New Year resolutions – although I would prefer to just call them "intentions".
However, before we can decide how we want 2013 to be different than 2012,  
we need to take a moment with our thoughts and reflect, and perhaps in our journal 
answer some – or all – of these questions below.

You can use these as a catalyst for digging deeper into your own private personal reflection,
or they can be used between you and your loved one for a New Year’s Eve conversation.
No matter how you use them - you will benefit from them.


Reflection Questions for 2012

1. What was the best thing that happened this past year?
2. What was the most challenging thing that happened?
3. Was there an unexpected joy in this past year?
4. Was there an unexpected obstacle?
5. Pick three words to describe 2012.
6. Pick three words your significant other would use to describe your 2012
   {don’t ask them; guess - based on how you think they see you}.
7. Pick three words your significant other would use to describe their 2012 {again, don't ask}.
8. Name your favorite books that you read this year.
9. With whom were your most valuable relationships? relatives? friends?
10. What was your biggest personal change this past year?
11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
15. What was the most enjoyable part about managing your home?
16. What was your most challenging area of home management?
17. What was the single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?
20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2012 for you.

I know this seems pretty simple. But, really, it isn't. These are tough questions. 
Which is honestly why I take time to reflect monthly. I have to change-up a little more often. 
By reflecting more often, I can change what doesn't work much faster. 

However, at the end of the year - that is the big one.
The whole picture. Twelve months coming together. How will I change and grow next year?
By an honest reflection of this year. Good Luck with that. And, my best advice I have to 
give to you is simply this; You can't lie to yourself and be happy, so don't.



:: Too cold ::

I've been dreading the cold since we first came back to Illinois. When I left in early December the cold had not settled in yet, but now... it is freezingAll I can think of are the many times I will have to pump gas, standing outside freezing my faceoff - or the times I have nearly crashed my car from all the black ice. 

And I hated having to run outside to start my car before leaving for work just to have heat on the way to work. {since then I added a remote start-smart right?} but now I'm running out and starting my daughters van for her and the kids before they head out anywhere. I hate having to wear a big clunky coat everywhere I go. Wahh, Illinois is so cold. SO cold.   

Thoughts, feelings and experiences I associate with 
an Illinois winter are as follows: 

A frozen bodyA runny noseCompletely numb skin, arms, hands, legs and toesSalt everywhere. Including salt in my socks and salt in my shoes Oh, and salt stains running about a foot up the back of my jeansSlipping on the iceShoveling or blowing the drivewayStruggling to scrape ice off of my windshield, windows and mirrorsWaiting for the "car to heat up"Slush that ruins my flats {so dirty}Driving in terror {when it rains ice}

The only good thing is that next week I will be driving the kids home again to New Mexico - and I hear the weather will be in the 60's! Yeah! I can handle that. Some sunshine and warmth - even for just a few days before I fly back here to the cold once again. But first, one more major party to get through. You guessed it- New Years Eve.This party however, is glamorous. We dress up to the nines-wear our jewels, and look our very best. It's really rather fun and a chance to wear my fur! {I got this fur from my grandmother who bought it 60 years ago-get over it}Also, it is not at my home! Yeah! Rather, it is at the Club - and very lovely. I like to make an early appearance, show off a little, {who doesn't enjoy that once in a while?} and then leave.

I am neither a heavy drinker nor can I stay awake until midnight anyway! {Hahahaha} 
I usually just feign a headache and leave early-always works-every year!What are your plans for New Years? I would love to hear them!



But don't forget to feed the birds. Another tradition during the holiday season is to make sure that we take care of the birds. 
And, there are many fun ways of doing just that! Take a look at all the fun that can be had with your family! 
Or, think of what a great girls evening craft get-together this would make!

First up, a recipe for bird food. Simply use cookie cutters to put them into any fun shape you
would like, then hang them up outside everywhere for the birds to enjoy!


Birdseed Ornaments

4 Cups Birdseed
3/4 Cup Flour
3 Tablespoons Corn Syrup
1/2 Cup Hot Water
1 Envelope Knox Gelatin
Non-Stick Cooking Spray
Cookie Cutters
Wax Paper

Birdseed Glue

In a large bowl mix bird seed with flour. In a separate bowl add Knox gelatin to hot water. 
Wisk until Knox is dissolved. Add corn syrup to the Knox mixture. 
Pour the Knox mixture over the birdseed mixture and stir until moistened.

Place wax paper on a cookie sheet. Spray the cookie cutters with non-stick cooking spray. 
Use a spoon to pack birdseed mixture into the cookie cutters. If you want to add twine hangers, 
place a small amount of birdseed in the cookie cutter and then add twine. Continue to fill the 
cookie cutter with birdseed mixture over top of the twine. If you want to add the twine hanger
 later, just use a pencil to make a hole in the ornament to hang by.

Let the birdseed mixture set in the cookie cutters for 2 hours. Carefully remove cookie cutters 
and let birdseed ornaments dry on wax paper for 1-2 days.

Homemade Peanut Butter and Fruit with Oatmeal “Suet”
Quantities may be adjusted to make a little, or a lot

2 pounds vegetable shortening, such as Crisco
1 pound jar crunchy peanut butter
2 pounds all-purpose flour
2 pounds cornmeal
2 pounds good quality birdseed, plus more for decorating
1 (6-ounce) package raisins or dried cranberries, or a mixture of both
1 cup quick oats for binding mixture, plus more, as needed

In a large saucepot, over medium heat, melt shortening. Stir in peanut butter, 
stirring until mixture is combined and well-blended. Remove from heat, mixing in flour, 
cornmeal, birdseed and fruit. Add just enough quick oats to make the mixture malleable. 
When mixture is cool enough to handle, form into balls, or squares for suet cages. 
(Some of the mixture may also be patted into a lightly greased 12-cup Bundt pan for molding into a wreath.) 
To finish balls or wreaths, press with additional birdseed to coat. Kitchen Ade Note: Use decorative ribbon to hang balls, or wreaths. If wreath is too soft for hanging, chill in refrigerator until firm. 
Leftover suet may be frozen, and then thawed before use. Yield: about 3 quarts.

Gourd Feeder

 Simply add birdseed to the bottom of a dried and hallowed out gourd.  
Then, hang them everywhere!

Birdseed Trees
Tutorial found HERE

Basically, spread peanut butter over branches and roll in seed.

And last, a bird seed bird feeder!

Tutorial found HERE!

Aren't these simply adorable!


:: That cozy feeling ::

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Isn't it funny? I love fires. There is just something about watching a
 roaring fire that makes everything seem soothing and right with the 
world for me. It makes me feel relaxed, relieved. 

I have been working very hard getting the house prepared for our
Christmas Eve celebration. And I am done. Everything is beautiful.
I am at this moment, sitting outside in the backyard amongst the 
snow-filled trees and bushes shining brightly from all of the white 
lights that are strung through all of them with such care. 
There are so many!   

I feel quite cozy between the fireplace and the heaters -
you would never know you were sitting outside. I am also enjoying 
a delicious warm drink I have never had before, a delicious coffee! 

After today - Christmas Day. Our own private family day. Only family.
And, that is large enough! Starting now, it's time to relax and enjoy
what this season is all about. God, Family, friends, neighbors.....


:: Merry Christmas ::


I am just putting the finishing touches on Santa's visit! The stockings are simply over-
flowing with fruits and candy, toys are everywhere,and beautifully wrapped packages 
adorn every little crack and crevice there can possibly be and then some. But, best 
of all...is the love that fills this house, and makes it feel like home once again. 

I look at the big beautiful tree - soft Christmas music is playing -  and I can hear the squeals of laughter of Christmas's past when my own children were young and found all
the goodies that Santa Claus had left them. My goodness they would get up early! Where did those days go? Time really did race by. Day by day, it seemed long, but, now looking back...I understand how fast it disappears. Now, instead of just managing to get through each day - I have learned to savor and enjoy each day and what it may bring... my wish to you is that you discover this much sooner than I did. Enjoy your children now because truly, time flies and they do not stay little for very long.

May you all have a beautiful and blessed Christmas Day.

May the Lord bless you 
and keep you.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you,
and give you peace.


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If you look for me at Christmas,
you won't need a special star -
I'm no longer just in Bethlehem,
I'm right there where you are.

You may not be aware of Me
amid the celebrations -
You'll have to look beyond the stores
and all the decorations.

But if you take a moment
from your list of things to do
And listen to your heart, you'll find
I'm waiting there for you.

You're the one I want to be with,
you're the reason that I came,
And you'll find Me in the stillness
as I'm whispering your name.


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Burning a Yule log is among the oldest of Christmas Eve Traditions. Like candles on the advent wreath, its flame represents the light the Jesus brought into the world.Yule log celebrations can be quite elaborate or very simple. The customary tradition begins near dusk on Christmas Eve when families go into the woods to find a suitable log, and of course drag it home!  { amidst much singing and laughing }Before the log is ignited, we saturate it with lots of fragrant spices. Once the fire is going holly sprigs are tossed into the flames symbolizing that the wrongs of the past are now forgiven and forgotten.

Keeping the Yule log tradition some years has been as simple as serving a cake roll filled with coffee flavored butter cream iced with chocolate and then decorated with holly leaf candies because we were just to busy to do the whole log thing.But whether simple or elaborate, the Yule log tradition is a fun way of welcoming Christmas.  


:: Gingerbread goodness ::

The gingerbread house party was a huge success. How could it fail with tons of frosting and so many
different candies as far as the eye can see? {smile} But, really Kevin Sr. and Pam did a wonderful job
hosting this party for children. It is not easy. {which is why they asked me to help} Plus, as a bonus I
got a bowl of his delicious chili that he is pretty well known for! So, not a bad deal at all. Also, happily, I was not up too late. Although, Buddy got me up quite early-but, once again, he is just wanting some quality time from me as well, so what can I say?

Today will be spent preparing the house for tomorrow. It is a big day around here. And because there will be hundreds of people in and out of here tomorrow there is a lot of prepping going on.  I also did decided that we can and will use the backyard as well. It is beautifully lit up and I have added some gorgeous covers and rented 2 heaters for outdoors-they really work too. Along with the fireplace, it will be a wonderful thing to be outside in the crisp fresh air as well. Also, some people smoke, so I thought I would provide a lovely area for them as well-so I don't have to feel guilty about asking them not to smoke in the house. Yes, this will work I think.

I'm also trying a couple of new drink concoctions to see what I think of them. That is always fun! Well, I must go for now, if I get a free moment I will be back to catch up!


The wait is almost over...


:: Never a dull moment ::

The Children's Museum was amazing yesterday-the kids really enjoyed themselves, 
and of course we all got face paintings-even me! The kids are putting the last finishing 
touches on the little Christmas trees-after all the judging is tonight! 
So is our "Polar Express" party! Tons of friends, neighbors, and especially children 
to watch the movie and participate in the best hot chocolate in the world! 
The kids get to vote on whose hot chocolate is the best! We even have a little trophy for it!

They are also busy creating their own Christmas Book. We got each of them a little blank 
book so they could each make up a new Christmas Story-I will save them-and when they grow up-
I will show them their beautiful stories. They are all growing up so fast already. 
Where does the time go?

This afternoon, my daughter is taking all the kids ice skating for a couple of hours-that should 
be a lot of fun! As for me, I believe that I will use that time wisely and take a much needed 
and much deserved nap! I have to cut up lots of veggies for the Super Nachos tonight. 
Everyone is bringing appetizers - delicious!

After tonight's party all the kids want to camp out tonight under the large Christmas tree. 
We have agreed to let them. So cute in their little Christmas pajamas dreaming of 
Christmas morning! But, even I have to agree that the tree is beautiful and I can see why 
they are so drawn to it.

I must go now-so much to do! I will be sure to let you know how it all turns out-hope I win!