What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Thankful Thursday and Friday Foto Friends

I seem to be combining these two days more often these days! I haven't been taking many pictures this week as it has been rather busy, but a few things have gotten my attention and so I thought I would share them with you.  BTW, I've been enjoying reading everyone else's posts this week about your Christmas and also your thoughts and plans for the New Year. I can't believe it's already here...when we were kids did you ever imagine that we would be living to see the year 2023? Wow! Time sure flies when you are  having so much "fun"!  

Speaking of time, this year seems to be a year for calendars! Everyone in the family seems to be getting them...and maybe not just one or two!  I believe this year we may have enough calendars for every room of the house!  But I am not complaining! I LOVE calendars, especially pretty and interesting ones. I want to share one sweet little one I received as a gift from a dear friend:

The 2023 "Heart of the Home" Calendar by Susan Branch.  I love her artistry throughout the pages, with lots of cute quotes and ideas interspersed throughout the months. I can't wait to see what each month will bring.
For January there are some thoughts about "How to write a Diary".  Now, most of us probably don't keep a "diary" of sorts anymore like we did as young girls, where we wrote our innermost secrets and thoughts about cute boys and stuff like that...but for us grown up girls we are kind of writing our diaries right here in our blogs!  Definitely no secrets here...these are open to the whole world, so we need to use discretion about what and how we say things, but I enjoy the fact that we are actually sharing our thoughts with other sympathetic and caring and encouraging friends.  We have a bond that seems to grow day by day as we get to know each other on a more personal level through our writing. 
Many of us may still keep a written journal that is private and personal...I used to before I started blogging so much, but my handwriting is so bad these days that it is difficult for me to do a lot of "real writing", so my computer aided blog posts are really the only journaling I am doing anymore.
The little quote at the bottom of the page above says,  
"Reserve your memories, keep them well, what you forget you can never retell." 
Louisa May Alcott
Good advice!  I am thankful for this way of reserving our memories. I just need to print them off now and then so they won't be lost when this computer technology is gone (or I am no longer around to share them).

That same dear friend who sent me the little calendar also sent me a bag of whole pecans, straight from her very own pecan trees!  What a delight and blessing that is!
She even included a nutcracker set to crack them with!

My cup overflows with joy and love and thankfulness!

And speaking of pecans, another dear friend from church gave us this lovely jar of "Cranberry Pecan Muffin Mix"!

What a wonderful idea and sweet gift!  I haven't tried them yet, but may do so this weekend. 
So thankful for thoughtful people who are also so creative!!

What a neat gift idea!!

Now here is something I love:   This little picture ornament was created by one of our vendors at Dixie Cottage. I had my eye on it for the past several weeks, wanting to buy it, but also wanting to give other people a chance to buy it first. I have to be careful or I will be bringing home something from there every day!  Anyway, I was surprised that no one purchased this before Christmas, and knowing that this particular vendor would be coming to take home her Christmas items that had not sold soon, I decided to give myself a little gift. It wasn't expensive, and something about this picture just really spoke to me.

When our boys were young and we lived up north, we often went to tree farms and cut our own Christmas trees. It was often quite a long, cold experience, as I had to check out every tree available before making a decision of which one to cut.  The boys would run around and say, "how about this one, Mommy?"  And I would inspect it and look at all sides and so many had bare spots here and there and I would say, "Let's keep looking!".  Hubby was somewhat patient, but after a while his feet were getting numb and the kids were getting tired, and everyone would say, "Just pick a tree so we can go home!" LOL.  By then we usually had looked at every one, and I had to narrow it down to the final choice, and hubby would cut it and we'd happily drag it up to the man to help tie it on our car and away we'd go! And of course the trees were always perfect when we got them home to decorate! (well, maybe not really perfect, but good enough to be beautiful and make us all happy).

Precious memories.

One last photo...the Christmas Cactus that just keeps on reviving every year and putting on its beautiful dress for us to enjoy!  (Click on this link for a little story about this cactus)

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and comments on my last post.  I had mentioned about having some back spasms, etc., and I wanted to tell you that I had an already scheduled Dr. appointment on Tuesday as a follow up to last week's labs.  I told him about my back and shoulder/arm issues, and he prescribed an x-ray for me, which I had on Wednesday. I won't get the results for a little while, unless he calls me when he gets them. He suspects that I have a pinched nerve. Not sure an x-ray will show much, but insurance requires the least expensive kind of tests first before going for the big ones like an MRI or CT Scan, so we will see what develops,  I have a history of slipped discs and spinal issues and surgeries, so we shall see what happens.   Stress causes these things to flare up, and then it just kind of goes downhill from there. Praying it will be an easy fix and no more surgery. It hurts the most during the night, so I'm not sleeping well, but during the day it isn't quite as bad. I told my hubby if I could just learn to sleep standing up I might be okay. LOL.  It's better to stay active and keep moving and not give in to this thing. (sometimes easier said than done).  But I am thankful it isn't something worse. 

Oh, I am still waiting for the Lord to show me what my "One Word" for 2023 is going to be. Time is running out, but I know He will show me on time. I just have to "listen" for His voice.  (I don't want to use the word listen, because I saw someone else had that word already...but then again, it does keep showing up in my thoughts...we'll see what happens...stay tuned).

"My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." 
Psalm 73:26

Monday, December 26, 2022

What A Wonderful Christmas!

 Today is the day after Christmas, and I've mostly been resting and cleaning up a bit and just trying to relax after all the activity of the past few weeks.  I have been having some back spasms that are stress related, so I took a muscle relaxer last night, thinking it would help me relax and sleep better. It didn't. It made me very groggy and dopey this morning, so after breakfast I went back to bed for about an hour and slept so soundly John had to wake me up. I decided I wasn't going to take any more muscle relaxers. They relaxed everything except my muscles. LOL.  So now, after two naps today I am finally awake enough to think about writing a post about our wonderful Christmas day!  Actually, I will just share pictures and explain as we go.

I will start with Christmas Eve.  

This was the scene in the living room right after "Santa" delivered the gifts for everyone. I know it looks like a lot, but someone here (Mr. Santa Claus) loves to give lots of little fun gifts and spread them out between many packages so it looks like a lot of gifts, but it's not exactly what one might think...and thankfully that someone helped wrap all those gifts!

Earlier in the evening our son Scott, who had arrived late the night before so he could take care of his car that is kept here before the freezing weather arrived (it's a project older Camaro...his "baby"), got busy and baked a batch of our family traditional Orange Cookies. (My mother's recipe that she always made anytime the grandchildren were coming to visit. Recipe can be found on that link).  

Oh, for those of you who are "Lily Grace" fans, she was there helping Scott ice the cookies. She is wearing her new Christmas dress that her "Auntie Debbi" in South Carolina sent her for Christmas.

Here's a better picture of her as she helped me set the table for the next day...

Now if you are a Facebook fan you may have already seen most of these pictures. But for the rest of you here's the story of our Christmas Day.  It started out with hubby and I going to Sunday School and Church, as he teaches the adult class and I sing in the choir and we help serve Communion, and so we wanted and needed to be there. It was a rather chilly experience as the heat in our antique church building just couldn't keep up with the freezing temperatures of 23 degrees in the morning,  and we had to keep our coats and gloves on all the way through church to keep warm. I think it had finally gotten above 58 degrees in the sanctuary by the time church was over. LOL. I know for many of you that is no big deal, but for us Floridians, 23 degrees on Christmas morning is a big deal!
Then we came home and started putting our Christmas dinner together. I had already prepared the  jello salad and the sweet potato casserole the night before, so it just needed to be heated, and the green beans and Stove top stuffing could be done when we got home,  and Rose was roasting the Cornish hens and other items at their house. They went to the Saturday night Christmas Eve service so they could stay home Christmas morning and prepare the rest of the food. Our friend, the other "Pamela" you will see in the pictures, brought two delicious  cream pies and Rose and baked two pies the day before. We had a very delicious dinner as you can see...

Everyone is anxious for me to quit taking pictures so they can start eating...

Scott took a picture of his plate so you could see everyone had their own personal Cornish Hen. I had never had one before, and actually Hubby and I split one so we could eat all the other stuff. It was a LOT of food, but oh so good!
 Here's the two "Pamela's"...double trouble...

And here's me with my sweet hubby...

Okay, pictures are over, now let's eat it before it gets cold!

After dinner and cleaning up the table/dishes (thank you kids for pitching in!)
we started opening gifts...Rose and Benton need calendars to keep track of time... LOL (we ALL got calendars).

I am wearing a wool skull cap, a gift from the kids for our trip to North GA mountains in January...they also got me warm socks and bathrobe and fleece pants, etc.  I should be very warm, and actually am wearing the socks and fleece pants now...it's that cold...

Scott with his pile of gifts...
And then he opened a gift from "Santa"...and all pandemonium broke loose...because ...
Rose and Benton also got the same gift from Santa...and I've never seen this side of our sweet, quiet DIL before! It was hilarious...
And poor little Baby Elva was trying to duck in her buggy to avoid the flying nerf projectiles...(yes, Elva is a doll...she was just fine...)

Rose really got into action...

But so did Scott...he had two nerf guns...

And I think I was the next target, but I managed to duck in time...

Uh oh! Daddy got one that shoots 4 nerf bullets!

And he is very cool, calm and calculating...

Benton had his gun and was doing his part, and if you notice, Rose is hiding behind the very messed up sofa!  Lily Grace is lying prostrate on the table...I think she fainted...

And our dear friend Pamela had no clue what she was getting into when she accepted the invitation to Christmas dinner...but she had a blast and said she'd be happy to come again...most fun she's had in a long time...

I think Benton was about to surrender below...Rose was holding him up from behind...

All in all a crazy but wonderful time was had by all! I should have recorded the laughter! It was pure hilarity in the house!

Then Benton and Rose remembered they had one more gift to bring in for us...actually it's for "Daddy" at my request, but I will use it too.  This beautiful vintage cedar chest was painted and refurbished by Benton from their store, Dixie Cottage, as a gift for John to put some special things in. He actually had seen it at the store before it was painted, and remarked at how much he liked it and would love to have something like that. So I told Benton behind his back to take it off the sales floor and prepare it for Daddy for Christmas as a surprise.  He was disappointed to come into the store the next day and find out that the chest had been "sold".  

But he was sure surprised to see it show up here at our house on Christmas morning with a fresh new look! I love it when we can pull off a real surprise once in a while!

After all the fun and games and gifts we had worked up enough appetite to have dessert.  So here's the pies...they were all delicious...

After all the excitement was over and everyone had gathered up their goodies and gone home, our grandson Noah called us from Maine. We were sad that he didn't get to talk to his "uncles", but there again, we were glad that we got to have him all to ourselves, and we talked for almost an hour. It was SO good to hear his voice and get caught up on all of his (& and his fianc'ee Dawn's)  goings on.  He said they had been without power for a couple of days because of the winter storm, but thankfully they have a wood stove and were able to keep warm. I told him I had been praying for all the people without power up north, that they would be safe and find warmth...and I didn't even know my own family was in that group needing prayer!  So thankful God heard our prayers and they are all fine.  I know many others in the country were not as fortunate. Quite a few people have died in this winter storm. It has truly been brutal for so many.  So I really can't complain about our 23 degrees. Our house is warm and we do not have any icy/snowy roads to contend with. Very thankful indeed.

And so, with that I will conclude our Christmas day celebrations. We truly have been blessed and are very very thankful to God for all of His provision and kindness toward us. 
And most of all for His Son, Jesus Christ our Savior...the best gift of all, Who just keeps on giving and giving!

Here are some lovely scenes on Still Waters Pond this afternoon before sunset:
The Canada Geese have been flying in and out again lately...
and then the Sand Hill Crane couple flew in for the evening and the geese immediately swam cross the pond to go welcome them:

Then the sun began to set on a beautiful day...it will go down to below freezing again by tomorrow morning, but should warm up to a balmy 57 degrees by afternoon, so we are climbing back up out of the deep freeze and we are very thankful indeed.

Oh, one more thing...speaking of ponds...I wanted to show you a sweet little gift from my sweet little DIL...first the street lamp over by the little church...

But next, the cute little tiny cabin and the red sleds...look really close at the little cabin:
There is a lady standing there on the porch with a camera in her hands, taking a picture of the skaters on the pond:
My sweet DIL found this somewhere and knew that I would love it, and she was right! First of all, my kids know that I am always taking pictures everywhere I go...and also, they know that my dream home is a log cabin...so this combination was perfect for me!  I was just so thrilled with this!

This makes for such a happy little scene...

Don't you agree?

Okay, this time I mean it...goodnight everyone!

Praying for you and yours, that you have had a blessed and beautiful Christmas, and that you are safe and warm wherever you are.
Looking forward to a Happy and hopefully warmer New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2022

Friday Foto Friends Better Late than Never...

 Here it is the Friday before Christmas, (which is on Sunday this year, just for future reference), and people are scurrying everywhere doing their last minute shopping for food, gifts, and also in preparation for the very cold frigid weather we are going to be getting, starting tonight and lasting for several days. I know many of you are already experiencing blizzard conditions and sub zero wind chills. I am sure many may have had to change their travel plans for Christmas due to the weather. The most important thing is to stay safe and warm. Praying for those without power already. May God watch over our friends and loved ones and keep them safe in this winter storm. 

We are all cozy and cuddly and ready for winter here...(as long as the power doesn't go out!)

And here's the extent of my baking so far:
My favorite Blueberry Bran muffins for breakfast this morning...(Recipe can be found on this post HERE)

I am really not planning to do a lot of baking for Christmas. My DIL is baking an apple pie, and we have one guest coming to join us on Christmas day (a single friend from our church), and she is bringing a Chocolate Cream Pie and maybe a Cherry Cheesecake pie, and if our son Scott gets here on time tomorrow he may bake some cookies, and some people have given us some gifts of peanut butter fudge and a few cookies already, so why do I need to bake???? I mean, how many sweets can one eat? However, we never turn any away if they arrive on our doorstep or table. LOL. 

But if I do decide to do any extra baking or cooking, this little cookbook that I just got has lots of great ideas for Christmas yummies:

I first learned about this cookbook on Mrs. T's Christmas Kitchen Blog, when she did a book review of this particular cookbook.  Mrs. T. loves the Gooseberry Patch cookbooks and refers to them often in this blog and also on her other blog Across My Kitchen Table. It looked interesting to me so I ordered it online through a used book site since it was printed in 2013. It has lots of great recipes and ideas for fun family times especially for the holidays. I am looking forward to trying some of the recipes in the near future.

Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts regarding my shopping woes, etc.  I am happy to say my shopping is done, and everything will be wrapped in time for Christmas...I did have a little scare the other day while shopping that I am only sharing because I want to give thanks to God for His protection over me, and also as a bit of a warning to others to always be aware when shopping or out alone.  

While I was loading my purchases into the back of my vehicle in the Walmart parking lot, I was suddenly startled to see a young Hispanic man standing very close to me when I turned around from my shopping cart to put a bag in the car. I never heard him approach and was really caught off guard. His appearance was rather strange as he had some kind of  red and peeling blotches of skin all over his face.  He spoke very broken English and held up his cell phone and asked if I could charge his phone for him because he needed to make a phone call to someone in Atlanta, or something like that. I couldn't quite figure out the whole gist of what he was asking except that he wanted me to charge his phone.  All the while I am thinking of what to do and realizing that my purse was sitting out in the cart, very accessible, and that also I was parked quite a ways out from the store due to the large crowds of shoppers that day. I tried to be very kind but I told him that I could not charge his phone as that would take too long and I really had to be getting back home. (not to mention the fact that in order to charge his phone the engine would have to be running)  He then backed away from me and asked, "You cannot help me?" And I said that I was sorry I could not, but I suggested that perhaps someone in the store would be able to help him. My mind was racing and my eyes were searching around me to make sure there weren't others with him who might be coming up from behind.  I was quite relieved when he then turned and just walked away and I hurried up and got inside my car and locked it and left as quickly as I could. I then called my husband and told him what had happened and the realization hit me of how close I might have been to something really terrible happening...but God was with me and protected me.  I don't know if that young man meant to do me any harm, but something about the way he backed away from me made me think there was an Angel standing between us at that very moment, and if he had intended any harm, his plans were changed. I actually prayed for the young man, that God would take care of his request if he were truly in need, but I also thanked and praised God for His protection over me.  I actually cried  and prayed and rejoiced all the way home. 

Lesson learned...always be aware of your surroundings when in a parking lot. Never leave your purse unattended in your shopping cart...and pray for wisdom quickly in any such situation. God is always ready to help us...and I do believe He sends His angels to guard and protect us.

Moving right along...since I really didn't have any interesting new pictures to share today, I took a few photos this morning of the different Christmas books I have sitting on the coffee table and in the kitchen and other places...Thought you'd enjoy seeing them. Maybe you have some of these or others that are special Christmas books that you like...

Who doesn't love Thomas Kinkade paintings? So lovey and nostalgic!

Remember the Christmas Ideals (and other Ideals books?)  And Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol", and Max Lucado , "In the Manger",

Some special Christmas tea books...

And another special book with pictures to go along with the words to "O Holy Night".

I know some of you are fans of Jan Karon's Mitford series...I did have the whole series but have shared them with others...I still have these two little Christmas books that are special...

That snowman above actually goes along with the Mitford Snowmen story.

And the other one, "Esther's Gift", tells about the Mitford character Esther Bolick, who always made her famous and scrumptious orange marmalade cakes for every special occasion in Mitford.  Over the years she had given away hundreds of these very rich and sweet cakes to many dear people.

But this year she thought she should figure out just how much money it took to bake these cakes, and when her hubby helped her tally up the cost of everything that went into the cakes, including her time for baking it, the cakes were worth over $40.00 a piece...and here she was going to give away at least 6 or 7 cakes to different people in town for Christmas.  Well, she started thinking she couldn't afford to do that anymore and kind of lost her Christmas spirit of giving when she realized how much money she was spending.

But then she heard some Christmas music playing and started thinking about the smiles on the faces of the different ones to whom she had planned to give the cakes, and how happy it would make them, and suddenly she had a change of heart and went ahead and baked the cakes and cheerfully delivered them to the special people in town who really appreciated the gift so much.

Re-reading this little story today kind of also changed my spirit about giving gifts... I know I grumble about shopping and wrapping and all of that, but when it comes right down to it...to see the joy on people's faces, to hear the laughter and/or the sincere thankfulness upon opening a special gift...well, that makes it worth it all. It also makes me want to try a little harder next year to plan a bit better and further ahead.  You can see below how happy all the friends and family in Pamela's Victorian Cottage are when their lovely "Auntie" from the city comes to visit for Christmas and always brings such special gifts for them.   (you can click on that link for another story about this!)

I kind of feel like I've had a "Scrooge" experience, with the scare in the Walmart parking lot, and then reading this little story, and my heart is overflowing with thankfulness to God for His mercy and grace and so much love...and to think, He sent Jesus, His ONLY begotten Son down to earth, for me!! (and for YOU).  
That's a pretty amazing gift.
I am in awe.
Thank You, God!
Merry Christmas everyone!!!