Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Mommy's Christmas "Store"


Mommy's Christmas "Store" was a popular thing in our home for many years. Recently my adult girls reminded me of the "store" and talked fondly of their memories of it. One of them said, "Mom, you need to write a blog post about it!"






The items varied from year to year... and the prices were low so that each child could buy gifts for their siblings and parents. No, they were not allowed to buy things for themselves at the "store". 





Little toys, crayons, pencils, little notebooks, simple jewelry and more were put into the store. 

We banned "wish books" from our home - those Sears or Penney's catalogues that had such enticing pictures of wonderful treasures in them. Those books of temptation to reject what God had already blessed us with in favor of something "new". After hearing the kids say things like "WOW! That bike is lots better than mine." "I want that doll."and other comments, we also did away with the ads from stores like Walmart and others for several years.  I hate the materialism in our culture and especially at Christmas and wanted our kids to enjoy giving and to appreciate what they had, not lust for more. 


We tried to keep things rather simple and the store helped us do that. This was especially helpful as we traveled so much for surgeries and it would have been very difficult to take 6 kids shopping at regular stores where they couldn't afford things anyway. Neither could we in many years. 






Just pieces of paper with prices. Very simple.





The kids LOVED this! I asked some of the guys if they remembered the Christmas Store and they did and loved it. One son asked if we would be having the Christmas Store this year... and he grinned since all of our "kids" are now adults. I laughed and said no.

 I would set things out in our master bedroom on the bed with the door shut, arranging things so they could shop. The anticipation of what would be in the store each year was high as was the excitement of being able to choose something for everyone. The line would form outside the door and one child at a time was allowed to shop. 

They would debate over what to get for each person and how much to spend of their money so they could get the best gifts for each person. There was much excitement over all of this. After they had chosen all of their gifts, the gifts were put into a bag and they then hurried past the other kids still waiting outside the door and took the gifts to a place where they could wrap each one.

One daughter said it was hard to wait outside that door for her turn. The excitement was high. I always made sure there was enough for each child to choose from. The Christmas Store was open for a little while on one day sometime before Christmas and then not again until the next year so it was a much anticipated time. 





1 cent items seems silly, but when little, they had very little money. I would give jobs for them to earn money and they loved shopping and lingering over various items to be sure to get just the right thing for those they were shopping for.







These are not actual items we used for our stores as I didn't take any pictures of them. These are items that "could have" been in our store and are set up to give you an idea of what our store was like.  One son reminded me that they rarely got candy and that wasn't usually in the store. I did put Smarties in the 1 cent section a couple of different years as they weren't as sweet, there were several in a roll and the kids loved them.




I shopped throughout the year for small items the kids would like. Some items were used for the various trips we took for medical reasons for one son.  Tips For Traveling With Children

Other items were saved for the Christmas Store. Most items were purchased at garage sales where I find many amazing deals and I pray about finding what we need.  My Garage Sale Prayer List






I tried to have a bit of a variety. Sometimes I saved out certain items so that one child could be given something they had not seen in the store. 





50 cents was about the limit for the store. By the way, I didn't make any money on the store and usually I lost money, but it was a precious part of teaching our kids to love to give.





Wonderful family memories do not have to cost a lot and I have been surprised at how something simple like this that was done more as a quick fix out of necessity has become so special and precious to our family. 

I hope you are able to build sweet memories this year whether for Christmas or not. Our kids are like sponges and they absorb so much more than we realize most of the time. I love being aware of that and trying to deliberately help them learn while also having fun.

Thank you for visiting. I hope you have a precious Christmas season of remembering Jesus and His wonderful sacrifice for us.
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If you are interested, this is on my friend Cheryl's blog over at Homespun Devotions. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

18 Years After the 9-11 Attack on America







18 Years After the 9-11 Attack on America
Today is the 18th anniversary of 9/11, the biggest attack on American soil
An attack that took the lives of many that day and also later days
A day of tragedy firmly entrenched in the minds of Americans
And a day that motivated a wonderful sense of patriotism in the country

I remember the day when a call from my husband interrupted our homeschooling
As he said to turn the tv on and watch ... it’s horrible... so we did
And tried to understand as we watched a plane crash into the tower
Thinking it was a video, but realizing we were watching a new attack

The tears came suddenly as the shock of the unthinkable froze us
Horror that such could happen in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave
Not sure if we should really believe it, yet we saw it ourselves in real time
Wondering what else could happen and were we safe

The horror continued as news came in and pictures were shown
As the country tried to understand this second attack wondering what was next
The newsman who said American is not under attack, this is in New York
Provoked an indignant response in me of Yes,they ARE attacking us

Because though we don’t live in New York and are farther away
New York is one of us and the attacks seemed deliberate even then
Attacking one part of the country meant that no part of the country was safe
Little was known at the time, but it was obvious Americans WERE being attacked

I had already planned to go to the store that day for needed groceries
So went earlier than planned with my children, finding the highways and roads empty
Feeling a fear of the unreal and unknown as there should have been many out
Seeing familiar scenes all coated in the dark dread of the unknown

Hurriedly buying groceries and heading quickly back to the familiar safety of home
Yearning to have my husband there also, but waiting for him to call
Holding my kids while tears streamed down my face, so thankful to have them
Praying for those in danger and asking that many would be rescued

A day of waiting, watching, praying and wondering what it all would mean
It was a day that fear crept right into our house and hearts and we cried
And still we watched desperately wanting a good outcome for more people
As the reality of the losses became more and more evident

Thankful someone finally echoed my thoughts and said America IS under attack
And feeling a oneness with other Americans who felt united in grief
So glad when my husband came home and for the crushing hug he gave me
As we clung to each other in sorrow with tears flowing down our cheeks

The next day was my oldest son’s birthday and usually a time for joy
He hated that the day after was his birthday and for years it has been a hard day
So young to be touched even in a small way by the evil that visited
His birthday ever after so close to a day tainted with harsh memories

The days after were equally sad as details came out of more tragedies and losses
As hope turned to acceptance and grief to angry outrage
Feeling a need to keep this from ever happening again, but not sure how
Seeing flags all over as patriotism united Americans and we cared about each other

God was an acceptable subject then as so many called out to Him for help
Flying flags, helping, comforting and listening to others became the new norm
Making me and so many others proud to be an American
Knowing we were united and would move forward in that unity

Many grieved and still do as the losses were deeply felt
But what has happened to our country that was attacked by religious zealots
Determined to kill any who disagree with them and furthering their agenda
That those from that same religion now hold offices in this country they attacked

So quickly we have forgotten what evil is so motivated to do
As we open borders and invite in those who come to infiltrate not find sanctuary
Many eyes are closed to the look of the future as more control taken by that religion
Of those not contented to worship in freedom, but driven to conquer and control

Why are we so foolish and caught up in entertaining ourselves that we do not see
The dangers around us and the freedoms being given away and also taken
Someday we will open our eyes in horror wondering how it could have happened
Though we willingly live anesthetized lives uncaring that history is repeating itself

Only God can fix the damage done because of hardened hearts and foolish minds
Of those content to live in the moment but oblivious to the future implications
Babies killed, tolerance for some, freedoms surrendered, addictions practiced
Claiming many freedoms, but missing the point of what freedom really means


      May we learn to be sober, be vigilant and watchful. Do you have memories of that day? Maybe you lost someone on that day... or remember where you were when you heard. I'd love to hear about it in the comments.  Thank you for visiting. 





Monday, August 12, 2019

Running the Race....



Life has so many difficulties, yet God is always faithful. We are running...
running a race...

a race that is bigger than us and our concerns
a race that is very important
and a race that God has allowed us to run, so He will equip us.







No, it doesn't mean it is easy and sometimes it is terribly hard.
Carrying extra burdens makes it harder.
Maybe we have some burdens, some "weights" to set aside.


Are we carrying worries, fears, regrets, disappointments, sadness, anger, other emotions... complacency, bitterness, selfishness, desire for stuff, dissatisfaction and more?
Even one extra "weight" can hinder and many of them can disable us.

Those that hinder us in our "race" are not good for us.
Maybe it is time to deal with those.
Not an easy thing, but definitely worth it.





     I want to honor God in how I run this race... and I hope you do too. I would love to hear from you
in the comments. Are you in a difficult "race"?  Have you set aside some "weights"? Are there some you still need to set aside?

                   I hope you see God's hand in your life... even in the midst of difficulty.
                                                What an amazing God we serve.

                                                     Thank you for visiting today.


Friday, March 15, 2019

Root Beer Cookies






  Root Beer Cookies?  Hmmm...  That sounds different.....

  Our family was in need of something a bit different... a little fun and since the guys all like root beer, I figured they would love these.

















 They had to try some of the unfrosted ones...
























The root beer frosting added the extra bit of flavor these cookies needed.


 If cookies are frosted this generously, you will run out of frosting unless you make extra!

The cookies with more frosting were the most popular.









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 A cake-like cookie with some extra sweetness and moisture added with the frosting.

They freeze well, even frosted.












                                 Root Beer Cookies

 3 cups brown sugar
 2 cups soft butter.....................  cream together
 4 eggs
 1 cup sour milk or buttermilk
 4 tsp. root beer extract.............mix in
 7 cups flour
 2 tsp. baking soda
 2 tsp. salt..................................mix in

 Drop cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 min... check and leave in oven for another minute or two if necessary. Don't over bake.

    Root Beer Frosting
4 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup butter, softened
3 tsp. root beer extract
4 Tbsp hot water............................... Mix until smooth


Frost cookies.... the frosting makes quite a lot, but it goes fast, so you will end up with unfrosted cookies if you frost too generously.... we did.
 

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 Reviews on these Root Beer Frosting cookies were mixed.... most liked them, especially fresh out of the oven.... and especially with the frosting although they were also enjoyed without frosting. Some loved these cookies.

The cookies are cake-like so appealed to those who like cake more... those who like moist chewy cookies didn't care for them as much.

They do take a lot of butter... almost 1 1/2 pounds between the cookie dough and frosting.

































Thank you for visiting. You may also be interested in another cookie recipe:

Buttery Chocolate Chip Cookies


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

How to Make: ICE MARBLES!





 Ice Marbles

 Fun and easy....  Just put water in balloons and freeze them. You can add food coloring if you like. In these, I put some liquid food coloring in the opening of the balloon, then attached the end to the kitchen sink faucet and filled it, tying off after.

The balloons I used were old ones and they kept breaking, but worked anyway. Since they were so old, the balloons made flatter marbles than the ones we made in another post called: 
Frozen Water Balloons!           

We put them in stainless steel bowls and trays because the balloons were very hard to carry and we didn't want them to break. We put ours outside in the cold as it was bitterly cold. These could also be made in the summer, using the freezer, for a summer activity.
































 Some balloons had and an air pocket and some showed the neck of the balloon.

Some had cracks which made them look even more like marbles.

























































After peeling the balloons off of the ice marbles, we took them back out to the cold to keep them from melting.

















 This one cracked a lot, but stayed together and we liked the patterns.













































This orange ice marble was not totally frozen inside. Though they were out for 24 hours in very deep cold, I had 3 big balloons nestled together in a large bowl and I had used warm water to get a clearer ice marble, so that is probably why it wasn't totally frozen.

This looks like an ice cave and we enjoyed seeing the crystals and patterns after the water left.









These are a good project.... fun and easy. Kids and adults both enjoy seeing them. We have put these along a walkway in the winter and they last quite a while if the weather stays cold.

Enjoy the precious times with making memories with your family... they are so important.

Thank you for visiting.













Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Swamp Pie - The updated version....




Swamp Pie.... No, it doesn't sound very appetizing, but it is something that has become special to my family. There was the original Swamp Pie which is how it all started, but I decided to do an updated version and we all agree it tastes even better than the original, though the original was good too. You can read about the original Swamp Pie post here: WHAT Is Swamp Pie???



The updated version of Swamp Pie adds just a bit more richness and flavor to balance out the sweetness and we think it is a big improvement, although my family likes both. We do not have Swamp Pie often, but every once in a while someone says, "Remember when you used to make Swamp Pie?" and we decide to have it again. The most recent time was several months ago and as a bit of fun we decided to make it since all of the family would be together for the meal. Our oldest son brought the girl who is now his wife. I was a bit concerned that she would think we are really strange because of having a dessert like that, especially with the name, but we all laughed about the story of the Swamp Pie and enjoyed our time.

Birthdays at our house are simple, but special. The birthday person gets to choose the meal, the dessert and the activity.  I laughed when my new daughter in law chose Swamp Pie for her birthday and we look forward to celebrating that birthday with her.



The new version of Swamp Pie has a graham cracker crust then I added a special cream cheese layer before putting the Pistachio Pudding on it. Then topped it off with frozen whipped topping. These are not huge changes, but they sure make the dessert even better. So, I think Swamp Pie will be a part of our family for a very long time.   :)   


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                              Swamp Pie- The updated version.....




               This "pie" is very easy to make and doesn't take long either. Great for any age.

                             2 packs graham crackers(of the packs inside a box)    Crush them
                             1/4 cup sugar
                             2/3 cup melted butter
    Mix together, pat into greased 9"x 13" or 10" x 15" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool.


                              2-8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
                              1/2 cup powdered sugar....................Mix cream cheese and sugar well w/ mixer
                              4 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed............... Fold whipped topping in gently and spread over cooled crust. I can't always wait until it is fulling cooled and that works also.  :) 


                              2-3.4 oz packages Pistachio Pudding
                              4 cups milk
   Whisk or beat for 2 minutes, then pour over cream cheese layer.


                               4 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed 
                                     Spread over pudding. Chill then serve.
       

               Swamp Pie recipe by Gentle Joy Homemaker.    gentlejoyhomemaker.blogspot.com

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 It's a pretty easy recipe... and fun for the whole family. If you do make it, I would love to hear how you like it.... and if you prefer the original version or the updated version better. 

   Foods like this form the memories which tie our family together and memories of past fun are enjoyed again as we have a fun treat. I have learned, though, to be careful to develop a name for the desserts I make up because otherwise the kids will name them. (sigh).  If I had named this dessert, I would never have chosen "Swamp Pie", but now it seems to fit... and it is fun. 

   Thank you for visiting and I hope you have a wonderful week. 





If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy visiting my other blog also. I love photography and my photography blog has lots of nature pictures to enjoy. Find it here:  Gentle Joy Photography 



Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Living in the Country!


We have had a dream for many years.... of living in the country. The Lord didn't allow it until just a few months ago. What a blessing to be here and to be putting in our gardens, blueberry bushes and more. In this post, I am simply sharing some of the beauty of country scenes that we enjoy.

Living in the country has been a time of discovery for us... discovering our own woodland area... it is small, but new to us. Also as spring is finally here, we are seeing what is growing wild on our land... like gooseberry bushes (we have never had those, so we will be learning), may apples (another new thing) and more. 

The purple fields are not ours, but they are so beautiful to see. 








 We have tire swings now.   :) 

























 Sunsets, early mist or fog, early morning shadows, old barns, new barns, animals, birds, fields.... I love taking pictures of all of them!   :)

If you have read my blogs for any length of time, you know that I LOVE to take pictures. It is fun to have so many new scenes to see and enjoy!















 We do have a small barn - actually it is a shed built to look like a barn, but it's great for pictures as well as storage.










 This guy was on our property... about 30 feet from the house when we saw him. He left quickly, but I was glad to get a couple of pictures of him.


















 The bird songs are amazing and we are hearing more of them now that spring is finally here.









 We have finches, mockingbirds, blue birds and more. They are beautiful.

We aren't nearly as excited about the large numbers of blue jays (19 on the front yard one morning!), black birds and starlings.  We accept the good...and the frustrating though. :)











 The farmland is beautiful (and smelly in the spring, but that is part of country living!) .







 Another photo of our large buck....

















 We have 2 1/2 acres which is 10 times the land we had in the city. We are loving it.... and staying very busy!  We are already using this property a lot and look forward to what we can do with it.

 There have been many unexpected expenses since we moved .....frozen pipes and flooded driveway in the deep cold, very high electric bills for heating in this very cold winter, and more.... so we are really hoping to save some money with harvesting our own fruits and vegetables. There is a lot of work involved and we are tired, but it is exciting too.







 I liked how this photo turned out even though it isn't a usual photo. I am enjoying snapping many pictures and experimenting.












 Peach blossoms, apple tree and the beds for our blueberry bushes. This picture shows a few that are planted and my husband is trying to get 6 in the ground each evening after work. I would love to take you on a tour of our whole property... and I'm sure I will over the next few months.  :)  

We had many gardens in the city and I brought many plants to our "new" home..... sadly, we lost almost all of them as we didn't realize the garage freezes things and so I lost my starts to my herbs, flowers and more. There were no real garden beds at this house... just a decorative one in the front that had some grasses and shrubs, so we are really starting fresh. We have put in a garden plot that is rather unusual, but I think it will work for us... no pictures of that yet, but they will be coming in a future post. You know how much I blog about gardening!!!!   :) 

Anyway, it is so good to be back... thank you for joining me today and I look forward to reading your comments. Have a great week!