Tuesday, December 22, 2009

in a manger

"And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes,  and laid him in a manger."    Luke 2:7

I brought this nativity set home from a visit I made to Israel about 35 years ago when I was a college student. It's made from the wood of an olive tree.

When I saw the olive wood nativity sets for sale there, I thought that would be the perfect souvenir and I looked carefully for just the right one that was in my price range. I hated having to bargain for a price, but endured it to get what I wanted. It looks kind of crude now. But at the time I was thrilled to find it.

I’ve put it out every Christmas since that time.

Having a nativity set that kids can handle is a good idea, but in spite of that, one wise man has lost his hand somehow.

Baby Jesus also had to get a new bed because his disappeared. His original manger was an oval shape with notched edges. My mother gave this one to me when she saw my poor Jesus with no bed. It’s from a nativity set she got in Mexico. Isn’t that just like a mom? I wonder where her poor baby sleeps.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Giving Thanks

Even if the Pilgrims hadn’t started things, harvest time is naturally a thanks giving time. Spade and I are in the autumn of our lives and that’s a harvest time too. We have a few different kinds of harvest going on right now.

One is the fruit on our citrus trees. It’s not a bounty you can put aside to keep yourself alive all winter, but we love our orange juice - or tangerine or tangelo or grapefruit - whatever happens to be ripe from now on for the next few months.

Spade’s like the Little Red Hen who made bread after she grew the wheat and ground it into flour. He planted the trees, keeps them alive and healthy with fertilizer, water, pruning and cold protection. Then he picks the fruit and brings it in the house, where he usually squeezes the juice out. (And even cleans the mess up too!!) That juice is so sweet, and how it comes to us makes it all the better. I’m grateful for it, and for Spade and his work.

I get a miniature thanksgiving feeling when I bring groceries home from the store. I have nothing to do with producing the food, but I’m so thankful while I unpack the bags and fill the refrigerator and pantry. If I happen to have stopped for gas in the car on my way home from the grocery store, then I have double the gratitude. We can eat. We can go somewhere. That’s security and freedom. And I love that feeling.

I’ve been straightening up the house today and I feel so thankful when I look around at it. I like our house, and I’m thankful for it, and I also have a sense of satisfaction when I see the order and cleanliness that my work has created. I like the results of my work. That’s a kind of harvest. It’s nice to step back and admire what I’ve accomplished.

Another harvest is the one from the work we've done in our family.  The hardest and most satisfying work we've ever done was raising our children. And the best part is that they aren’t messed up. :) Well, that's a bit of an understatement. And we’re thankful for that every single day.

We'll be counting our blessings on Thursday and enjoying a feast with family and friends. But we can find harvests and blessings in the normal events of every normal day. There are enough to bring a thankful feeling every day of the year. I hope we remember to do that.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Shine on

“There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle.”          

Robert Alden

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fast Food

Tali uses just five ingredients to make a great breakfast sandwich that you can be feasting on within five minutes of walking into the kitchen.

You need a couple of eggs, a slice of ham, a slice of cheese, butter and an English muffin.

Break the eggs into a small microwave safe bowl, and stir them with a fork.

Then, put the English muffin in the toaster.

Now put the eggs in the microwave and cook for about a minute.

Slice the cheese.

When the English muffins are toasted, butter them.

When the eggs come out of the microwave, they are in a cute round shape, perfect for an English muffin sandwich. You can melt the cheese a little by putting it into the bowl with the warm eggs for a second or two.

Then, assemble your sandwich. Eggs, ham and cheese on the buttered English muffin.

Fast! Easy! Tasty!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


He's grown about 10 inches and gained nearly 20 lbs.

He's learned to pick up tiny objects using his thumb and forefinger, and has invented a language of his very own.

All in just one year.

Happy Birthday Wally!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

One In One Out

Do I love it? Does it fit? Have I used it lately?

I’m cleaning out my closet, and what doesn’t make me happy is going out. If I haven’t used it, if I don’t feel great in it, if I don’t love it, out it goes!

Parting with my clothes is painful! Especially things I’ve enjoyed but that aren’t useful anymore. But at the same time it’s a relief - I enjoy a neat closet and when I clean it, I usually find some long lost stuff.

My husband has a one in, one out policy in his closet. When he gets something new, he gets rid of something old. His side of the closet is balanced. I want mine orderly and color coordinated! I might be in the one in, three out state of closet organization, but I'm determined to find out if less is more.

As I’ve been sorting through my clothes, I started to get the idea of sorting through my habits. How about tossing out the thoughts that don’t make me happy, or just aren’t what I want to be like. Too bad changing habits is a bit harder than changing a shirt!

OK, what habits should I toss? Complaining. No, criticizing. No, worry. Being mean. Being sarcastic. Well, I have a nice list of negative thinking to choose from.

Usually I don’t even notice that my mind is full of dark/sad/mean thoughts, and then I suddenly find myself in the middle of a sad day and I might even be making it a sad day for somebody else!

So how do you wake up and throw out those thoughts and non-thoughts? Waiting for them to show up and then using hand to hand combat to toss them out seems like a slow way to make changes. What if I don’t have a chance to get mad today? Or nobody makes a mistake for me to criticize?

The one in one out idea might be just the thing for my dark thoughts. What would happen if I get my mind so full of the positive that there’s no room for darkness to sneak in? In with the happy, out with the sad!

I’ll try Alex Haley’s motto, “find the good and praise it” and apply it everywhere, to people, to the weather, to whatever happens today.

I knew of a man who hummed a hymn to himself when he felt angry. He looked like a happy guy. And he was. He was a guy who was keeping the door locked and bolted against emotions and thoughts he didn’t want.

Instead of fighting negativity, I’m going to keep my mental closet so full of kind, cheerful and optimistic thoughts that there’s no room for whiney, mean, sad ones.

There really is so much good all around every day, it shouldn’t be hard to find it. That quest actually sounds kind of pleasant.

So it’s one in one out for me. With clothes, habits, thoughts, whatever I feel like changing.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

another ratatouille moment

Spade recently came across another favorite treat from his childhood and this one is courtesy of Angie also. It seems some of his favorite foods had skipped a generation, from his mom, past me and showing up again with our daughter-in-law. (Not that I didn't try!)

Here are Angie's Ginger Cookies

Measure these dry ingredients into a large bowl:
4 ½ Cups flour
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ t salt

In a mixing bowl, cream together:
1 ½ cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
½ cup molasses

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture.
Form the dough into balls about an inch in diameter.
Put about ¾ c sugar in a bowl and roll the cookies in the sugar before placing them on a cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 8-9 min.
(Mine seem to take a couple minutes longer than that.)

This makes a big batch of cookies. After I cook one cookie sheet full, I form the rest of the dough into balls, roll them in sugar and place them on waxed paper on a baking sheet, then put that in the freezer for a couple of hours. When the cookie dough is frozen, I put all the frozen dough balls in a large zip lock bag and keep it in the freezer.

Then, when we're in the mood for cookies, I just put the frozen cookies on a cookie sheet, pop it in the oven and cook it for a minute or two longer than unfrozen dough would cook.

Having a bag of frozen cookie dough in the freezer is a great thing that lets you go from hungry for a cookie to eating a warm one in about 15 minutes time.