Sunday, November 1, 2015

Amaryllis for Christmas

November is the ideal month to buy an amaryllis bulb and plant it in a small pot for blooms at Christmas.  These photos are of amaryllis from our home. Amaryllis do NOT require a green thumb or much care and they look spectacular as they grow on a thick green stem that reaches up above the pot and looks unusual.

Amaryllis grow from bulbs that can be as large as your fist, and have flowers up to eight inches across, on tall sturdy stems. As the thick stems grow above the pot, they look like strange alien beings, and guests are apt to remark “what is that?”.

Once the blooms open up, the question is answered, as the flowers brighten the room.

Most amaryllis will bloom in six to eight weeks, so November is the time to buy an amaryllis, either as a plain bulb, or one that is already growing in a pot, and that has stems emerging from the bulb. The bulbs you can buy that are almost ready to bloom are usually for red or red and white flowers, though amaryllis can be found in salmon, white and even lime green. There is a wide selection of bulbs and colors available in online and mail order nurseries.

For beauty I put some gardener’s marbles on top of the soil, set the pot in a sunny window, water once a week, and turn the pot a few times a week to keep the stalks growing straight up.When the amaryllis is done flowering, let the leaves die back, and set it in an out of the way corner until next spring when you can water it so it will bloom again, for several years to come.
For many more tips see our Christmas book:
Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories To Warm Your Heart and Tips To Simplify Your Holiday

This post written by Terra Hangen

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Plan early and have a frenzy free December

Did you hear the one about the blond who heard that the majority of car accidents happen within two miles of her home? ..........She moved.

LEAVE a comment to be entered into a contest to win a copy of A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts. Drawing this weekend.

Many people travel long distances over the holidays by car, train, and air, but most traveling is done locally and not just the few days around Christmas, but daily. Truly, this time of year is a little hazardous to your car fenders and you. With planning you can make the roads a safer and friendlier place during the holidays with these tips to help you from now until Christmas.

  • At the beginning of your day, start a list of the local stops you need to make. Route yourself so you travel the fewest miles or the least congested miles. Make plenty of lists, essential to avoid a quick run to the stores or malls. God bless you if you have to go to the malls after the 15th.
  • Be a friendly driver. If someone lets you merge into waiting traffic, wave a thank you. Allow those having a difficult time merging into traffic to go in front of you. Even this small gesture of kindness brings its own rewards.
  • Plan your meals from now until Christmas. Buy early. Bake and relax at home while others scurry about for last minute ingredients.
  • Play Christmas music when traveling. Cheeriness will invade your heart.
  • Have you put off mammograms, dentist visits, or yearly checkups? Often those offices are slow this time of year. Make an appointment now to take care of your preventive care.
  • Moms, the kiddos will be out of school soon. It's easier to push a grocery cart single-handed than with three children in tow. If you can afford to, shop early for those everyday needs.
  • Keep a bottle of water and a healthy snack on hand in your vehicle, to avoid fat-laden burgers and drive-thru lines. Or pack a brown bag lunch, and sit in your vehicle and have lunch. That down time just might relax you enough that a forgotten errand comes to mind and you save an extra local trip to stores.
Safe travel to you and yours. HONK IF YOU LOVE CHRISTMAS.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Easy No-Sew Pillow for Gift

Not only am I a Word Quilter, I'm also a Quilt Quilter. Hmmm. That sounds funny. One of the best places to find fabric for quilting or crafting is in the remnant bin. I love finding treasures. It is there that I suggest you look for some fleece for this no-sew pillow project which is a great gift for just about any age. You will need two pieces of fleece-3/4 yard each. Or two pieces of fleece that measure 25" X 25" for a 14" pillow. (Pictured here are several fleece patterns from JoAnn Fabrics online.)

Here's the list of supplies:

Two pieces of fleece 25"X25" (be sure you don't include the selvage in that measurement)
One 14" pillow form
Sharp scissors


  • Place the two 25" squares (no selvage) "wrong" sides together if you can figure that out. Some fleece looks the same on both sides. Secure with a few pins.
  • Cut a 5"X5" square out of each corner.
  • Now cut 5" long fringe that is 3/4" wide on all four sides. It might be easiest to measure the five inches in from the edge and place a strip of masking tape there to use as a cutting guide.
  • Tie a piece of back fringe to a piece of front fringe all around three sides. Make the knot right at the 5" mark. Some fleece tends to stretch more one direction than another so you might want to turn one of your layers so that a stretchy side is matched to a less stretchy side.
  • Insert your pillow form and finish tying the fourth side. It may be easier to tie every other one and then go back and finish the inbetween knots.
  • Voila! A beautiful pillow ready to be wrapped and given to a beautiful person on your gift list. And if you can find remnants and/or sales, your pillow should easily be less than $25!
[Posted by Karen Robbins]

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Room for Him?

"And she brought forth her firstborn son,
and wrapped him in swaddling clothes,
and laid him in a manger;
because there was no room for them in the inn."
Luke 2:7

Interesting. No room. 

Did that stop Mary?


She made room for Him.

This Christmas, I encourage you to make room for Jesus in your home and heart. 

Intentional effort.


Reread His birth story.

Give intangible gifts to others.

Have family prayer.

Return a favor.

Share joy.


Forgive a wrong against you.

Befriend someone.

Visit the elderly.

Extend hospitality . . . not just to your home but, in your heart. 

We are so grateful for you, dear readers, and wish you a most blessed Christmas 2013.

~ Brenda Nixon

Thursday, December 19, 2013

White Elephant

"What!?" she exclaimed with a broad grin.

The circle of friends roared with laughter. I nearly fell over in my chair. Someone else was slapping me on the back as she hooted and hollered in delight.

It was that pesky white elephant gift we'd been passing around for years! The item itself wasn't as funny as the fact that the stupid thing kept popping up each Christmas at our annual White Elephant gift exchange. 

From one year to the next, I couldn't remember who was bestowed the honor of taking home the offensive possession but, each year we all circled our chairs at a new party and hoped we were not the one "blessed" with it. 

And the one who brought it tried to disguise it with elaborate wrapping that'd make everyone one else want to choose it from the pile of glittering gifts under the tree. It became an art to camouflage it - making it appear new - for the next "victim."

Odd isn't it? Something that repelled us actually brought us together.

Question: What's the funniest White Elephant gift you received or gave away?

Brenda NixonCo-author, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Over the Hill and through the Woods to

My husband is famous for saying, "Let's drop by Cecil and Helen's house . . . see if they're home."

We know our friends and their schedules well enough that we're pretty safe when we make an unexpected house call. I've learned to appreciate drop-in company most of the time, and Christmas usually means visitors will be in and out more over the holidays. Here's some tips I learned about keeping a house company ready. . .or making folk feel welcome even when the house is a mess.

I heard this tip years ago, and I've found it to be a good one. Keep your mirrors and appliances shiny, and the gleam will catch your visitor's attention, making a good first impression. and it will make you feel better, too. Take a spray bottle of Windex, a roll of paper towels or some lint free rags and only do the household mirrors, wipe down TV screen, (whatever is recommended for yours), the fridge, front of microwave, etc., even washer and dryer if company will see them. Go do that now. There. Do you feel better about your housekeeping?

I like to take a few minutes each day to tidy rooms. Round up any stray items and return them to their places. Also, during the holidays set a clear cookie jar filled with home baked goodies in a prominent place. Place something cheerful by the door guests enter--a plant, a heartwarming slogan, or a colorful welcome mat. When someone knocks or that doorbell rings, smile and greet any guests who happen to phone ahead or simply drop by.

What if your house looks like it has just been burglarized and unexpected people are at your door? Clothing, newspapers, and shoes clutter your sitting area. Dust has settled on the end tables like the down on a thistle. Be gracious. Say as little about your mess as possible. You might make your guests feel bad for dropping in. Err on the side of gracious hospitality and put your all-I-want-for-Christmas-is-a-neat-house ego on hold. Choose to be a blessing to all who seek your company. What a compliment. They wanted to come see YOU!

Enjoy the merriment this week as we move into the count down--10 days until Christmas ....Cathy Messecar

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Costly Christmas?

Do you find that the errands, gifts, extra groceries, cards, and charitable giving make your Christmas costly? Well, this time of year does increase spending but, it doesn't have to break your bank.

Order on
Although there are tons of tips in our Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts I'd like to share one little idea to increase the meaning of Christmas without the money. 

What's more special than giving something homemade, personal, and affordable? Teach your children to make handprint cards for teachers, grandparents, pals, etc.

Using an 8.5 x 11" sheet of cardstock, folded in half (like a card), trace Dad's handprint with a red colored pencil. Next have Mom trace her hand in green inside the outline of Dad's. Then, using a different color pencil for each child, trace his/her handprint around the large one of Dad and Mom. 

By using a different color for each family member, the card is joyfully colored plus gives distinction to each person. You can shade inside the handprints or leave them plain.

Next, print the name of each person or glue a small picture inside his/her handprint. What a unique keepsake!

Open your "card" and write a Merry Christmas greeting to your recipient. You can buy large envelops at stationary or craft stores that will fit your homemade card. But to save more money, simply use giftwrap and a glue stick to make a colorful envelop.

Check out some of the other ideas in our book and have a Merry, money-wise Christmas!  ~ Brenda Nixon