Monday, December 28, 2009

Oh No, Not Again

Guess what?

I’ve lost my mailbox again…

DSC_0286I know it’s somewhere just off my driveway.

DSC_0311Speaking of driveways….

There seems to be something lost here too.


DSC_0290 DSC_0305





DSC_0312  Oh winter, please go away.   I hate it when you hide my things.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas 2009


Oh, the weather outside was frightful.









But Christmas was delightful.


DSC_0033DSC_0006DSC_0007Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ginger Farm Animals


Photo from Better Homes and Gardens website

Many Christmases ago I started making Gingerbread Farm Animals. I found the instructions for a barn and animals in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Both my grandfathers were farmers and lived within a few miles of me growing up and this reminded me of them.

I’ve never made the barn, silo, and fence but I do make the animals. The gingerbread animals are crisp and not too sweet. My sister-in-law Missy “reminds” me to make them each year. Then she tells me it’s my fault that she addicted because I fed them to her when she was pregnant.

I made some to bring to her house when I go over for dinner tonight.



This recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens. It makes a lot of cookies. I rolled out and baked about 1/3 of the dough today.

Ginger Cookie Dough


  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt


1. In a large mixer bowl, beat butter and shortening with electric mixer on medium speed until softened. Add sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, molasses, and lemon juice; beat until well combined.

2. Combine flours, ginger, allspice, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to margarine mixture; beat well. Divide dough into 4 equal portions; wrap each in clear plastic wrap. Chill 3 hours or until firm enough to roll.

3. Roll dough, cut out with cookie cutters.

4. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes

Royal Frosting

Quantity: 3 cups


  • 3 egg whites (I substitute meringue powder)
  • 1 16-ounce package powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar


1. In a large mixer bowl, combine egg whites, powdered sugar, vanilla, and cream of tartar. Beat with electric mixer on high speed for 7 to 10 minutes,

I thin this frosting with quite a bit of water so it is easier to use to decorate the animals. I also prefer to put the frosting in a plastic squeeze bottle. You can buy mustard and ketchup bottles that work perfectly and are less messy than decorating bags and tips. If you choose not to use the squeeze bottles, keep the frosting in the bowl covered with wet paper towels to prevent it from drying out as you work. The frosting can be refrigerated overnight in a tightly covered container; stir before using.

Do not stack the cookies together until the frosting has dried completely. I learned this from experience, many, many years ago; I made these cookies for my Grandpa for Christmas. On my Christmas goodie platter, two cows stuck together in a “compromising position” causing me much embarrassment, my Grandpa, the cattle farmer, thought it was hilarious and got a huge laugh out of it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cleaning Mom

I love it when my mom comes to visit.

But I feel a little bit guilty too.   She’s just always so darn helpful.

I used to be more sensitive and feel like it was a criticism of my housekeeping skills when my mom came over and did chores.  I try not to feel that way now and accept it for what it is – my mom’s way of mothering me, even when I’m all grown up.  If my house were filthy, I might have a reason to feel sensitive, as it is, it usually just needs a little spiffing up.  She’ll say something about how hard I work and how it’s difficult to keep up when you have a family and work full time.  And then she’ll proceed to dust or sweep or fold.   I’m learning not to stress about it so much.

For instance, a few days before Thanksgiving, she spent a couple days at my house.   During this time, she cleaned two, or maybe three of my bathrooms and dusted my entire house, along with several other chores.


I helped by photographically documenting the dusting process. 

I’m incredibly helpful that way.

It’s a gift.

No need to thank me, Mom.    Really.


I told my mom that I was taking pictures of her cleaning so I could write a post in my blog about her.

I suggested it might be nice to have a picture of her vacuuming too.  But she didn’t fall for my ploy.  She said she doesn’t vacuum. 


As my kids have gotten older and moved out, I understand her need to mother this way.  We mothers need to keep our jobs.

On another note, do you notice the plants in these photos?  The only reason they are alive is because each time my mom comes to visit, she exclaims “Oh Mary,  your plants are so dry” and then she waters them.  My son does the same thing, except he says something like “Gee Mom, don’t you ever water you plants?” and then he waters them.  Sometimes if my mom and son haven’t been over for a while, the plants will start to droop.  I take that as a clue and water them myself.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Every year at Christmas time, I find a Christmas song I love the most that year. This year, Casting Crowns singing “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is my song.

This song is based on the poem “Christmas Bells” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Although, I don’t know much about poetry, I did know the name Longfellow. Since I’ve learned about the tragedies in his life and the situation in which he wrote this poem, I’ve listened to this song with new ears, and it’s become more than just my 2009 favorite Christmas song.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an esteemed educator and American poet, born in 1807. He married his first wife, Mary in 1831. Mary and their unborn baby died in 1835. After a seven year courtship, and a marriage proposal rejection, Fanny Appleton finally agreed to marry Henry in 1843. It was a happy marriage. They had six children, however one daughter died when she was a year old. In 1861,at age 44, his wife Fanny’s life came to a tragic end when her dress caught fire as she was sealing cuttings of a daughter’s hair in wax; she was badly burned and died the next day. Henry burned his hands and face badly trying to extinguish the fire and wore a beard for the rest of his life due to difficulty shaving because of his scars.


Henry Longfellow was an abolitionist and wrote poetry to help draw attention to the anti-slavery cause. Still, he was dismayed by the Civil war which started a few months after the death of his beloved wife. Henry was a pacifist and disapproved of the war. Even so, his oldest child, Charles, ran off to enlist in the Union army at age 18.

In 1863, on Christmas Day, Henry Longfellow received word that his son had been severely injured in the war. His son recovered and one year later on Christmas Day in 1864, Henry wrote the poem “The Christmas Bells”

When the poem was rearranged and set to music by John Calkin in 1872, two stanzas referring to the Civil War were left out of the original poem. This anti-war poem became a Christmas carol proclaiming peace on earth, faith in God, and hope for the future. And that is how I hear the song, as a poem by a man born over 150 years ago wanting the same thing then as we long for today.

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”