Valentine’s Day

February 14 – Valentine’s Day.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Historically and commercially it is a day for romantic couples to celebrate their love. Leaving out those who do not have a romantic partner to share the holiday celebration with. Love is so much bigger. Everyone has and receives love from someone. To me these relationships are just as important.

When I was much younger and in school we celebrated Valentine’s Day. We would make some creative object to contain the valentines we received on the day of celebration. Each student was expected to bring a valentine for everyone in the class. There were students I did not want to give a valentine card to, so I would select what I considered the “ugliest” valentine to give to them. If the cards I was handing out that year had candy, those I did not like would get the broken candy. I am sure I was not the only child to do distribute valentines in this manner. The celebration was not true of the representation of the holiday. As I advanced in school, Valentine’s Day was celebrated by those who had a romantic partner, and I was left out.

Love is so much bigger. I celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special effort of sending a card to those I love and care about. This started when my children were small. During one of the times they were getting ready for their Valentine Day’s celebration at school and writing names on valentine cards for each student in the class, I decided to make cards for each of my children. I hid them in their pile of cards to hand out. A surprise as they placed cards for others, there would be a card with their name on it just for them. Through time this has evolved to sending cards to my children, and eventually grandchildren.

A few years back, I started sending cards expressing how important a friendship was to me. I feel that others should know they are appreciated and important to someone else. A way of letting my friends know I value their friendship, the times they were there to support me or encourage me when I needed it. Also, to let them know I am there when they need support or encouragement. These are not romantic cards at all, but ‘thank you for being my friend’. Valentine’s Day history and celebration has been to celebrate romantic love, love is so much bigger.

Today, I celebrate Love. Love of family, friends and my husband. I celebrate the fact I am loved. I celebrate that I love myself. I have spent most of my life not loving the person I was created to be. Three years ago, I started the journey to love myself.

This Valentine’s Day celebrate love. Love of a partner if you have one. Love of family and friends. Love from the Creator. Mostly celebrate the love for yourself.



So Long 2022

The year 2022 has been good, a big improvement over the two years prior. There were many blessings for me and my family. But it is now time to bid you farewell. I will see you to the door while holding a glass as I toast in the New Year. You have not been a bad year, but I do believe it is time for you to go.

As I prepare to celebrate your departure, I reminisce of this year’s events. You, Year 2022, will be most remembered as the year that marked the arrival of my last grandchildren. This year will be remembered as I look at my son and daughter-in-law’s long desired daughter, four boys and finally a daughter to make their family complete. Four boys are good, but sometimes mothers want a little of themselves to share. I am sure she will be spoiled. She has the look of a princess with four knights by her side.

Let us not forget the journey of Baby A, Baby B and Baby C. A huge surprise you brought us in March. A year entangled with prayer and hope to see if a set of triplets would enter our family fold. We were not disappointed, they arrived all well and good. Three growing healthy boys we added in the end.

Not least among the year’s events was a visit from my oldest daughter with her three children in tow. There first visit to the farm brought lot of laughter and joy. Grandchildren finally were able to ride the famed Victoria and found all the stories were true. She will follow a cow without a miss or a cue. Her sudden moves a little scary, but the ride was exciting. We ate, played games, laughed and had fun. As I reminisce this year 2022 the creation of memories to last a lifetime we made.

You were not all joy and fun, you brought some strong winds of change. Some might call it a tornado when a source of income is done. My husband’s on a journey of finding work again. Where we might land is the question. But you will not bring the answer to us, for your time is now done. The New Year will determine where and when we land.

There are dreams and hopes we have as our New Year arrives. The New Year will bring untold blessings and challenges that will be revealed as the New Year and us journey forward together.

You and I will travel towards the door of departure with games, fun, food and fest. Out the door you must go and have your rest.


Silent Night

Christmas Eve has arrived. I have completed my list of things to have done for Christmas. The Church Windows as our family always called the chocolate, marshmallow, coconut candy is done.

The recipe is simple: 1/2 cup of butter or one stick ; 1 – bag of semi-chocolate chips 24 ounces; 1 – bag of colored mini marshmallows 10 ounces; 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract; 2 cups of coconut (optional)

In a pan on low heat, melt the butter. In a bowl pour the marshmallows.

While the butter is melting, I set up the aluminum foil and wax paper to put the candy mix on to form a roll. I put down foil, then wax paper, then a row of coconut. This year I am only doing coconut on half of the roll, as my granddaughter does not like coconut. Other options for coconut is almond slices, chopped pecans, or graham cracker crushed.

When the butter is melted add the chocolate and peppermint extract to the pan. Stir until the chocolate is melted. Once the chocolate is melted, pour chocolate over the marshmallows and stir until all the marshmallows are covered.

1/2 coconut, and 1/2 without.

Spoon mixture onto the wax paper in a row on top of the coconut. Put coconut on top of the mixture, gently press roll together. Wrap with wax paper, twisting the ends, then roll in the aluminum foil. The aluminum foil keeps the wax paper from coming apart from the candy, creating a mess in the refrigerator. Cool for 1 hour or freeze to use later ( I have kept it for 6 months) then cut into 1/2 inch slices and enjoy.

The recipe makes two rolls approximately 12 to 15 inches long. I did not get as much coconut as I usually do as I was in a hurry.


Brrrr, It’s Cold Out There

Children dream of a white Christmas. Part of my childhood we lived in an area where I always had a white Christmas. I never thought of the cold, or preparing for the cold. My thoughts were on building a snowman, snow ball fights with siblings and cousins, and sledding. The fun activities of snow. After playing in the cold, chilly snow, we were greeted with a cup of hot chocolate in a warm cozy home.

Children do not have the cares or worries adults carry when there is a white Christmas. The preparation of water lines and making sure the heat stays on before the cold weather arrives. As a child we were dependent on propane, that was delivered, for heat in our home. My parents would check the propane tank and make sure there was sufficient propane for all of winter before winter arrived. The company would not deliver propane if the roads were icy and unsafe to drive on.

This year my son, daughter-in-law and their five children will have their first white Christmas in Indiana. They moved to Indiana because my son’s job transferred him there. For Christmas celebrations, they were going to his parents-in-laws. This morning, my son, his wife and four children were heading back home. They left yesterday afternoon on a road trip to spend Christmas with her family. They managed to travel one hour from the house, but the journey took four hours due to white out conditions. They were able to get a hotel for the night. With the weather still precarious, they made the choice to return home and celebrate Christmas there. They are disappointed in not sharing Christmas with her parents. But more important is to stay safe to celebrate next year.

There are many who are left in airports, and other places away from where they were planning on being for Christmas – all because of the weather. Others are driving on slippery roads trying to reach their destination or just to go shopping for groceries and last minute gifts. I do not think any of them are happy about a white Christmas, their only focus is on staying safe in their travels.

We have had our disappointments for Christmas celebration as well. Our plans were to spend Christmas Day with my daughter, her husband and four children. But, my daughter and her husband, and oldest daughter came down with Covid. No trip for us on Christmas Day. And no snow. In the fourteen years I have lived in Texas, we have had only one White Christmas.

We live close enough to my daughter and her family, we can reschedule for a weekend day to celebrate. But others, they have taken time off for the trip and celebrations. My son and his family, will have to schedule a time when he has more than three days off as the distance takes a day of good roads to get there.

Packages can be mailed. Facetime can be used to watch grandchildren open gifts. There are ways to celebrate with today’s technology without being there physically.

Stay safe. Celebrate with a joyful heart. It is not the place or who you celebrate with that makes Christmas important, it is why you celebrate that makes Christmas important.


My Christmas List is Almost Complete

Today, I have one item left to do on my Christmas List. Today, the other gifts arrived for my grandchildren. They are wrapped and under the tree, ready for delivery.

I finished decorating the gingerbread houses. I am pleased with their appearance. This year I used fondant on the roofs. I used fondant frosting for the first time this summer, when I made a birthday cake for my granddaughter, with the help of my grandson. I enjoyed the look and working with fondant this summer. So, I used what was left over to decorate the roofs of the gingerbread houses. I also used fondant to make a snowman. Did you see him? I will definately be experimenting with fondant next year and next Christmas.

I have a few other ideas on decorating next year’s gingerbread houses. Yes, my creative mind is thinking a whole year ahead. This summer, when my grandson was visiting, as per his request, we watched baking shows and baking challenges. These baking shows inspired us on making a birthday cake. He is still fond of baking shows, only his brothers do not like to watch them. It was nice talking about my ideas for next year’s gingerbread houses with him.

The Christmas cookies are baked. I made M&M cookies using red and green M&M for the season. My base recipe is from Nestle’s Toll House Chocolate Cookies, I substitute the M&M for the chocolate chips.

There is only one item left, the Church Windows. Another name is no-bake stained glass window candies, if someone wanted to search the internet. I have a few different substitutions and ingredients than the recipes I found on the internet. But I am sure which every recipe is used, they will taste delicious. Tomorrow the Church Windows, then we are ready for Christmas.

This year, our plans have changed. My husband and I will be celebrating as a couple. My daughter and her husband are sick, and they requested we stay home. It is nothing for my husband and I to celebrate as a couple. We have been doing so for most of our married life. We will deliver the Christmas gifts on or after the New Year. Most years we have had the family gathering after New Year’s Day, when others were able to come.

For Christmas Eve, I will be making a pot of green chilli. We will have frito pies, nachos or just a bowl of chilli. There will be other items such as some finger foods, a relish tray and deviled eggs. We will snack and watch Christmas movies, until my husband is too tired and we retire to be about 9:00 pm.

Christmas Day, I will fix cornish game hens, stuffing, green beans and crescents. Dessert will be butternut squash pie, cookies, or whatever. Maybe a bowl of ice cream.


Made a List, Checking it Twice

I am a list person. I get more things done by making a list of things to do the night before. The list keeps me focused on what I prioritized to be done the next day. I am a person, I will be working on something, then go to get a tool or put an item away and see another things that needs to be done, and start working on that task and not finish the one I was working on first. A list keeps me from starting a lot of projects and finishing none. I also make a list when it comes to celebrating a holiday or preparing for a visit. My list for Christmas is almost complete.

Decorate tree – done

Decorate inside of house – done

Send Christmas Cards – done

Bake cinnamon rolls – done

Bake cookies – on the to do list

Make Church Windows – on the to do list

Buy Christmas Presents – done

Wrap Christmas Presents – almost done, waiting for one more delivery.

Decorate gingerbread houses – half done.

My list for Christmas 2022 is almost done. All that is left to do is the fun things, cooking and decorating cookies and gingerbread houses. One of my favorite interests is cooking, baking and decorating cookies and cakes. I get joy out of the presentation of the food I prepare and cook, as well as the taste.

This year, I made a conscious effort to enjoy each task on my list. I want to savor the moments of this Christmas. A couple of months back, I did some reflection on Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations and realized I was busy doing the decorating and preparing for the holidays, but not savoring the individual moments. This year I decorated slower, took my time and enjoyed each part of the process. Tonight I wrapped all the gifts for my husband and my daughter’s family. I took special time and creative effort with this year’s wrapping and presentation of each gift.

It is so very easy to fall into being so busy, working at a fast pace to get everything done and go to every Christmas event – we forget to enjoy and savor each activity. Slow down, breathe and savor the moments that make Christmas 2022. There will be only one Christmas 2022. Next year we will celebrate Christmas 2023.

This year I made a smaller list of tasks to complete for Christmas 2023. I did not decorate the outside of the house, as I did not have time due to working on some other projects with my husband. There is still time to adjust your list of tasks you want to complete to allow you time to enjoy the moments of celebrating the holiday, instead of hurrying through the holiday season.


Holiday Traditions

Each family has a set of holiday traditions. What is a tradition?

a belief, principle or way of acting that people in a particular society or group have continued to follow for a long time, or all of these beliefs, etc. in a particular society or group.

Depending on the country where you were born, family heritage, and other factors, we all have different Christmas traditions.

Opening presents vary from family to family. Some open family gifts on Christmas Eve, creating room for the gifts arriving from Santa Claus to be opened on Christmas Day. One family I know open gifts on Christmas Eve with all the family, then feast and games on Christmas Day. My family has always opened gifts on Christmas Day, until everyone left home. The day of opening gifts at our home was scheduled when family members were able to come over to celebrate Christmas.

This year, my husband and I have made another change, we will open gifts on Christmas Day. We are not having a Christmas celebration with other family members at our home. So, we will go back to the original tradition we were both raised with, opening gifts on Christmas Day. Then we will go for a short visit and food at my daughter’s house, provided my husband and I are not sick.

The timing of putting up the Christmas tree. Most of the family put the Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving. I was raised with a Christmas tree being harvested and decorated the day after Thanksgiving. But when I started my own family I changed the date. My birthday is in the first part of December. I was tired of Christmas crowding my birthday. Hence, I decorate the Christmas tree after my birthday. Those of us who had the opportunity of being born in the month of December, have a lifetime of sharing our birthday with Christmas decorations and traditions combined and often over powering our own celebration.

Gingerbread houses, beautiful creations of decorated cookie structures. I do not know the origins of decorating gingerbread houses, but their beauty has always drawn my attention and fascination. As a child, we never decorated gingerbread houses, but on occasion would make gingerbread cookies. When my children were little, we did not decorate gingerbread houses. Not until my youngest daughter was a freshman in college, I purchased a kit, and we decorated gingerbread houses. From that first start, my other children started buying kits to decorate gingerbread houses. Now, every year each of my children’s family as well as myself decorate gingerbread houses for Christmas. A new tradition in our family we all enjoy.

Photo by Goran Grudiu0107 on

Hanging the stockings with care. Growing up, we hung our stockings on a bookcase, as we never did have a fireplace. My children when they were small, their stockings were hung on the dining table on Christmas Eve, as I did not have a place to hang stockings. We moved several times, and the place in the different homes changed, sometimes stair banisters, bookcases and a few years from an old piano. What went into the stocking never changed. I would place in each stocking : an apple, an orange, peanuts, then some chocolate Santas and always a peppermint candy cane, a new toothbrush, socks and lastly a penny for good luck in the coming year. I have stopped putting peanuts in the stockings as it is too messy. When family comes to visit for Christmas I add travel size lotion, hand sanitizer, or a loofah into the stocking instead of socks or a toothbrush.

I always make the cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies and church window candy rolls. Some years I bake more. But those three items are always made at Christmas. The years I have the time and energy to bake more, I give the extra cookies and baked goods away to friends and family. With the baking and cooking I do at Christmas, one our New Year’s resolutions is to always lose weight. The first few months of the New Year we are on a diet to lose the weight gained at Christmas.

The way we celebrate our Christmas traditions change with the stages of life we are in. When my children were young we did many more family traditions of playing games, watching certain movies and cooking together. Today, there are only two of us at home. I no long spend three to four days baking and cooking with my children. I cook the standard three recipes that in my heart have to be made for our celebration. Under the Christmas tree looks lean as there are not many gifts compared to when I had four children at home. To fill the emptiness, I decorate under the Christmas tree, with a Christmas town or train or reindeer. The traditional turkey dinner with all the fixings is a little too much food for two people. I have sent invitation to have others join us for Christmas dinner, only they have their families or friends they spend the day celebrating with. Instead of the traditional turkey dinner, I fix something special such as rib eye steaks, or cornish hens, a special dinner for two.

Traditions change as families merge. When my children married, their spouses had family traditions as well. Each family had to merge the family traditions they were raised with and form their own traditions carrying forward some traditions from each.

Regardless if you have passed down through generations traditions or create new ways of celebrating the holidays together, it is important to celebrate with those you love and create memories. Make each day you have be special.


Gifts at Christmas

This year my budget is small for Christmas gifts. I would love to be able to buy gifts for each and every grandchild. Having fifteen grandchildren, gifts for each is quite expensive. Instead I purchase a gift for the family. Christmas should not be about gifts only, but memories as well.

There is the phone calls to talk to each grandchild on or before Christmas Eve. Christmas day is so busy for the families, it is best to talk before the family Christmas festivities start. Connecting and letting each one know we are thinking of them while miles apart.

The gifts I have sent this year are to the whole family, games. Yes, my children and grandchildren love to play board games. The challenge is finding a game they do not already own. I find games that fit the age and number of children in the family. Playing games together helps to build memories and family bonds as well as teach children to win or lose graciously. Some games are memory games others strategy or role playing games.

In today’s technology era where digital games are common. It is still nice to sit around a table, no television or phones, and play a board or card game with family.

My children grew up without television. We had a VHS and some VHS movies and cartoons. I think my children learned the scripts to all of them. We played a lot of board games. First our Christmas board games started with Candy Land and Sorry. As the children grew up, our favorite was Monopoly. Monopoly is a very competitive game, taking us a week to complete one game since I would have to take breaks for cooking and cleaning, plus sleep. Then there was Risk, turnly a cutthoat time war game especially if alliances were formed. But not all games were as competitive.

We also put together jigsaw puzzles. A new puzzle each Christmas. First the puzzles were easier, few pieces. Until the finally years the puzzle was 1000 pieces with intricate pictures to form. These puzzle would be placed on a table out of the way of traffic and worked on as each of us wanted. Before the children would have to return to school, the puzzle would be finished.

Card games were popular such as Uno or Skipbo. We went through several decks during the years. Each Christmas I would get a new game of either Uno or Skipbo depending on which game cards were most worn.

Today, the families still enjoy Uno and Skipbo, but also Phase 10. The grand children are also learning to play poker. I am not good at poker as I am not good with having a poker face.

The important part of Christmas is spending time with family. Talking, sharing and having fun in creating memories.

Make memories this Christmas.


Cinnamon Rolls

A Christmas tradition is homemade Cinnamon Rolls loaded with raisins and nuts, covered with a sweet frosting. Tradition is to bake the cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve. We open gifts on Christmas Day. When everyone woke up on Christmas morning, each would get a cinnamon roll, then sit down as gifts were handed out and opened. Cinnamon rolls were pre-breakfast snack. Once all the gifts were opened, the living room picked up, I would start cooking breakfast, and then Christmas dinner.

My recipe for the sweet dough comes straight out of Betty Crocker Cookbook. The recipe gives the options of shortening, margarine or butter – I always use butter. I make the rest of the recipe as written.

After the dough has doubled and is ready to become cinnamon rolls, this is where I get creative. I will roll the dough into a rectangle, sprinkle with cinnamon almost covering the dough entirely. Then I sprinkle on 1/3 cup of brown sugar, add raisins and pecans to my desired amount. Now for a secret ingredient I learned from an aunt, pour some corn syrup over the mix, not a lot of corn syrup, about 1/2 to 3/4 cup, to help the brown sugar melt and soak into the dough during baking.

Next roll up the dough, gently squeezing together as you roll. Once rolled, pinch the edges together. Then I cut 1 inch slices and place in a greased cast iron skillet. Do not place too tight together, as the dough has to rise again. After about 1 1/2 hours, they are ready to bake in the oven at 375 degrees fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Once the are baked, I use a brush to cover them with butter. A person can eat them at this point, frosty is not necessary. But if you want frosting, now is the time to frost as the warmth helps the frosty to cover and soak in.

Frosting is simple, a teaspoon of butter, 1 – 2 Cups powdered sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla, and 2 – 3 Tablespoons of cold water or milk. Mix, if frosting needs to be stiffer mix more powdered sugar.

A delicious dessert or early breakfast. A treat my family enjoys.


Cards and Letters

Remember getting glitter decorated Christmas cards in the mail? Or perhaps you are one of those “old fashion” type person who still enjoys sending a Merry Christmas message to family and friends. For over a century people have sent the once a year letter and Christmas message to friends and family, especially if they lived beyond visiting distance.

The first Christmas card was created by Henry Cole and J.C. Horsley in 1943 according to the Smithsonian Magazine. I first learned of the first Christmas card while watching a show, “Victorian England” on Netflix. One episode went into the history of the Christmas card, or what we would term a postcard. The first Christmas card was created to ease the work of writing a letter in response to letters written to Henry Cole. It was considered very rude of a person to not respond to a letter they had received. Henry Cole being very busy, yet not wanting to be rude was struggling with writing letters. Henry Cole developed an idea of a picture on stiff cardboard to send in place of a handwritten letters. J.C. Horsley created the picture, they had it printed and the first Christmas card was invented.

I was raised with the tradition of sending a card before Christmas to every family member and friend wishing them Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I have kept this tradition and my children have followed with keeping the tradition as well.

Today, we could just send an email for a newsletter, or a text message saying Merry Christmas. But there is something special when a person receives a card, with a handwritten message inside. The card shows time and thought was taken to send a simple gift of a card. Receiving the card makes the person feel special and not alone. We can read a message in a text. We can read, touch and smell the message in a card.

Each year, I send Christmas cards with a letter telling of the year’s events to family and friends. I used to write a short summary of the year in each card. About ten years ago I stopped writing the summary inside the card as I was getting writer’s cramp. I opted for a computer generated, decorative letter to place inside each card I send. I still hand sign all the cards. Thirty years ago I would send out fifty to sixty cards a year ( now you can understand the writer’s cramp), taking me a week to complete the task. Today, I finished addressing, signing and getting ready to mail thirty cards. Years have taken names and address out of the Christmas card list.

This year I had big ambitions of creating Victorian style Christmas cards to send instead of purchasing cards. I was able to create ten cards for family and friends. I punched holes in lines to form an outline of the object being created. During Victorian times, this was an inexpensive method used by the lower classes to send Christmas cards.

The instrument I used to punch the many holes per card is a tool used in quilling paper. One end is needle like, allowing me to punch holes through the paper. The other end is used to make shapes using stripes of paper called quilling. It is a long process of punching holes to create a card.

With time running short, I did purchase some Christmas cards to send to family and friends. I wanted them to receive a card, even if it was not handmade. Next year I will get the handmade cards done, hopefully to be mailed.