Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Twas the Week Before Christmas by Trish Berg

'Twas the week before Christmas, when all through my life,

whispered my Christmas to do list, giving me strife.

The gifts that were bought from Santa himself,

Were not yet sitting up high on a shelf.

The children were fighting over this and that

And I could hardly imagine what had caused their spat.

Another day of parenting, another quest for peace,

As Papa and I tried to make the chaos cease.

When down in the basement arose such a noise

I tripped over my feet and recovered with poise.

Away to the dishwasher I flew like a flash,

tore open the door, and was hit with a splash.

The dishes were wet, and hot water spilled

I knew that this faithful old machine had been killed.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

but miniature marshmallows stuck in here and there.

With forty little fingers so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment who had made them stick.

More rapid than eagles, my temper it came,

and I whistled and shouted and called them by name:

"Now Hannah! Now Sydney!

Now, Colin and Riley!

Come into the kitchen

And don’t you be smiling!

To the top of the stairs!

Come big kids and small

Now come in here, come in here

Come one and come all! “

As food crumbs and bits that cover my floor

Stuck to the bottom of my feet and followed me out the door.

I searched for my children, and shouted again,

Then I saw their faces and the guilt set in.

And then, in a twinkling, my anger began to fade

As I saw them prancing in with joy that God made.

As I swallowed my words and was turning around,

Down the stairs they all came with a child like bound.

They were dressed all in PJ’s from their heads to their feet,

and their clothes were all covered with peppermints sweet.

They looked so innocent, so young, and so merry

That the anger in my heart was soon light as a fairy.

Their eyes--how they twinkled! Their dimples, how merry!

Their cheeks were like roses, their noses like a cherry!

They were cute and sweet, and had the joy of an elf,

and I laughed when I saw them, in spite of myself.

A wink of my eye and a twist of my head

Soon gave them to know they had nothing to dread.

I spoke not a word but went straight to my work.

And grabbed them and hugged them, then turned with a jerk.

And pointing to the kitchen and nodding my head,

Inviting them all in for cocoa and bread.

I sprang to the cupboards, to my kids sang a song,

And in they all came all singing along.

The dishwasher was not as big a deal,

As the way my temper would have made them feel.

So I learned a big lesson that cold December day,

And am trying very hard to put screaming away.

And each night this week when the chaos abounds

I’ll try to remember how true joy is found.

In the tiny little moments, in the cocoa and cake,

In the smiles they give and the pictures I take.

For they are just kids, and though the mess is real,

So is the time that each day seems to steal.

So when I tuck them in their beds so softly tonight,

I’ll whisper in their ears, "Mommy loves you, forever, sleep tight.”

Be sure to visit http://www.trishberg.com/

Monday, November 29, 2010

5 Money Saving Tips for this Year and Next

1. Invite your friends to a Christmas D├ęcor trading party in your home. Set the date for early December. Have each guest bring 1-5 decorations that they’ve outgrown or that no longer suits their taste. Serve light refreshments. Each guest gets to exchange their decorations for an equal number of items.

2. Explain that each child in your household will receive three gifts, the same number that the baby Jesus received.

3. Trish Berg, my co-author, submitted this one to our collection of ideas, and it can create family fun and strengthening of relationships with little expense: Several weeks before Christmas collect your children’s favorite books or maybe those which rarely get read. Check out a few library books and buy one or two inexpensive new books. Wrap them and place them in a basket under the tree. Let your children choose one from the stack each evening for you to read as a family.

These next two hints are things that will help you next year.

4. This season, watch for Nativities that are on sale, buy up a few and gift those for wedding gifts this next year. Hint: you could add a copy of A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts for the newlyweds’ first Christmas. m

5. The final tip is to buy supplies to make Christmas tree ornaments, three different ones, on sale of course, after the holidays. This next summer when you see your children growing weary of summer activities, bring out one of the ornament projects. Next season, you’ll have a collection of handmade ornaments that they can gift to Bible class teachers, friends, or other people they want to give a gift to. Be sure and save a set for each child and you, too.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Presentation, As Important As Taste

If you have followed my posts, you'll find that I am not the cook/baker among the Word Quilters. My best recipe for chocolate chip cookies comes from the refrigerated section of the grocery store and has a little dough boy on the label. I do make a mean cake at Christmas and Easter though. I have a daughter-in-law who likes a white cake with fresh strawberries as the filling between layers. Of course my cake is from a mix, my icing from a can, and the coconut topping from a bag. I slice up the strawberries and place them between the layers as I'm icing the cake. If it will be consumed quickly--which is usually the case, I place fresh strawberries on top as well.

In trying to be crafty (it is Crafty Saturday) I came up with this alternative that I think I'll try out myself this year--sugar frosted fruit. After all, presentation is as important as taste. Most of you are probably ahead of me on this but if not, here's how it goes:

You'll need a beaten egg white in a small bowl, extra fine sugar in another small bowl, a paint brush used only for food, and your fresh fruit--strawberries or grapes or raspberries or blackberries. Wash and dry the fruit on a paper towel. Set out another paper towel for the finished project to dry on. Now take the paint brush and coat the piece of fruit with the egg white. Then either dip it in the sugar or use a teaspoon to shake sugar over the top of the fruit. I would think the later would work best to keep the sugar dry.

Use as a garnish on your cake top or other desserts for Christmas dinner.

Now, if you get to this before I do, let me know how it went and if you have any other helpful hints I can use, pass them along.

Happy delicious crafting! Karen Robbins

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sour Cream Cheesecake

Sour cream cheesecake is delicious, I promise. To save time you can buy a graham cracker crust, preferably a nine inch crust that is two inches deep, or any size crust.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
With an electric beater mix 2 eggs, 12 ounces cream cheese, one half cup sugar, one tsp. lemon juice and one half tsp. salt
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cinnamon and let it cool to room temperature.
Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Mix one and one half cups sour cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, one half teaspoon vanilla and a pinch of salt. Pour this over the first layer and bake for 5 minutes, then refrigerate it for 6 or more hours before serving.
The layers with different tastes make it very tasty.
What is your family's favorite dessert at holiday time?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chocolate Cream Pie Made Easy -Trish Berg


1 Keebler graham cracker ready crust pie crust
1 (4 serving size) pkg. Jello chocolate instant pudding and pie filling
1 c. cold milk
2 sqs. Baker's semi-sweet chocolate, melted
3 c. thawed Cool Whip whipped topping

Prepare pudding with 1 cup milk as directed on package with electric mixer. Gradually blend in chocolate at low speed until smooth. Then fold in whipped topping. Spoon into pie crust. Freeze until, firm about 4 hours. Garnish with additional whipped topping and chocolate curls, if desired.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Crafty Idea for the Charity Gift Tree

Many shopping malls, stores, and churches at this time of year put up Christmas trees with paper ornaments that have a name or description of a child on it for you to take, buy a gift for, and return for distribution to the child. Since it's Crafty Saturday, let's consider a gift of creativity. What child, young or old, doesn't like markers, colored pencils, watercolors, paper, fancy templates, fun hole-punches, stickers, etc.? Why not consider putting together a crafty box of supplies?

Or if you want to shortcut the process, check out your local craft store for craftkits. There are tons of choices from making jewelry to paint by number to wood projects. Just remember that the child may not have an adult to help them with the project so you want to make it something easy and age-appropriate.

While you are at it, mention that you are looking for a gift for a charity tree and perhaps the store would be willing to give a discount or add something of their own for you to add to the tree gift.

If this is something that you do on an annual basis, remember to shop the sales after Christmas!

Happy crafting! Karen Robbins

Friday, November 19, 2010

Love in a shoe box, Samaritan's Purse

My favorite holiday charity focuses on children in need, and is called Samaritan's Purse or Operation Christmas Child.
Every year my church participates in this shoe box project and we fill more boxes each year.
You fill a shoe box with suggested gift items, first choosing if for a boy or girl and then selecting the age group, zero to five, six to nine or ten to fourteen.
The boxes are delivered to very remote areas of the world  or to American children, with a small booklet in the appropriate language about the birth of Jesus. I think the deadline for filling a shoe box is November 22, which makes sense since many boxes go to remote areas. At the website you can type in your zip code to find the closest place for you to take a filled box.
How much love could I squeeze in to a shoe box? It turns out A LOT :)
I picked a boy, age 6 to 9 and put in the box: new brown striped tee shirt, monkey Beanie baby, 2 metal cars, toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, pens and note book, and a bag of bubble gum. This is a fun family project which puts us all in the spirit of giving.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Angel Tree--Giving to Families of Prisoners

One of my favorite things about Christmas has to be the spark it ignites in people’s hearts toward charitable giving. Young and old alike agree on this point: It’s a greater blessing to give than to receive. And Christmas allows us to do that in a variety of ways.

When my kids were small, they wanted to put money in the Salvation Army bucket—not just once, but every time we passed by one. I decided that if I didn’t want to go broke, I’d better get a roll of quarters at the bank. That way, instead of getting stuck having to relinquish my last $20 bill, I could be a hero each time: going in the store, exiting with a cart full of groceries, running in to grab that elusive gallon of milk. They loved dropping in their respective quarters and being rewarded when the attendant rang the bell.

Fast forward a few years—now those tots have morphed into teens. Instead of quarters in the Salvation Army bucket, they’re involved in feeding the homeless, rebuilding homes devastated by Hurricane Katrina, serving at a VBS in Mexico or sitting by the bedside of young AIDS patients in South Africa. But there’s still much to be done at home. In our affluent community, we still see many who struggle financially. To that end, I love Angel Tree. Angel Tree is a faith-based organization that seeks to give children, whose parent(s) are incarcerated, an opportunity to enjoy Christmas. The national organization partners with local churches to make needs known to individual members. These folks then shop or provide parties for the underprivileged children.

This amazing ministry allows us to share the love of Christ by ministering to an often-overlooked demographic, families of prisoners. Imagine the fear, uncertainty and loneliness inherent in such a situation. Then compound that by the glitz and glitter of the holiday season. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can bring joy and a momentary excitement to children who, through no fault of their own, find themselves without a parent. By purchasing gifts or having parties for needy kids, we offer them a little hope during the Christmas season. Plus, it teaches our own children the importance of giving.

Check with your church. If it's not already involved, maybe you could step up to lead. Visit www.AngelTree.org for more information.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gift a pair of goats, chickens, or buy a mosquito net

My husband and I have donated to Christian Relief Fund for years because we know the founders and in this past financial report they only used 7% of their donations for advertising and administrative work. 

Do you have an older member of family or anyone you could honor by donating in their name? Through CRF, you can give Christmas gifts to a child for $10.00, or sponsor a child per month for $35.00, or give farm animals (chickens $15.00, a goat $65.00 [pair$130.00], dairy cow $500.000, emergency food for $35.00, life-saving medicines for $50.00, clothe an orphan for $30.00, save a life with a mosquito net for $10.00, build a home in Haiti for $4,000 or share the cost of homebuilding, or help the helpers (CRF needs to upgrade their technology to expand efforts to help more children). You could send a child to elementary and High School or Univeristy (from 275.00-1,200 per year), or change a life through vocational training at $250.00 or share the costs. Or share the good news with a gift of $5.00 to bring Bibles through the hands of missionaries.

Click Christian Relief Fund.org to check out their organization.  They are members in good standing with the ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Holiday Inn - Crooning with Bing

Here's a golden oldie that many people forget about when they are lining up their Christmas movies. Back in 1942 (before my time!) Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire got together to make the movie Holiday Inn and gave us one of our most beloved Christmas songs, "White Christmas," which Crosby later used as the title to his remake of the movie in 1954 (during my lifetime).

With that in mind, I thought you might enjoy some ideas for making snowflakes should the real ones fail to show for Christmas.

Stick-on snowflakes for windows:

Using a pencil, draw simple snowflake designs onto a piece of wax paper. Trace over each design with glitter glue. Make nice, thick lines so the snowflake will be sturdy. Let dry completely overnight. Gently peel the snowflakes from the paper. If the glue is still wet, turn the flakes over and allow to dry more.

Use as window clings or add to gift packages.

Pasta snowflakes:

Save up those leftover uncooked pasta shapes for this project. On a piece of waxed paper, arrange the shapes to make a snowflake shape. Glue the pieces together. Let dry completely and finish by spraying with glue and sprinkling with glitter.

Snowflakes to munch:

Using flour tortillas and a pair of clean sharp scissors, fold the tortilla in fourths and cut as you would to make a snowflake from paper. You may need to warm the tortillas a bit in the oven to make them more pliable.

In a fry pan, add a very little oil and fry the tortilla until crisp. Top tortilla with powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar.
[posted by Karen Robbins]

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Christmas Story, our family's favorite movie

Oh my, this is a funny and touching movie, with many scenes in it that are seared into my memory. Some years it is on tv constantly, and we bought a copy for backup. The setting is a town in Indiana in the 1940s, during the Christmas season. This is a story from the point of view of Ralphie, a nine year boy.

You may have your favorite movie moments from A Christmas Story. The scene of the boy whose tongue freezes to the flagpole, and Ralphie with the bar of soap in his mouth are not possible to forget. For funny scenes the younger brother was so swaddled in his snowsuit that when he falls down he can not get up on his own. To keep him warm his mom put so many layers of clothes on him that he cannot put his arms down at his side.

Amazing scenes, and add to this Ralphie's desperate craving, nay need, to own a Red Ryder carbine action BB gun, and Ralphie hearing "you'll shoot your eye out" so often from every responsible adult. He poured out his heart in an essay he wrote for school about how he should have the rifle, hoping his teacher will concur.

The dad is called The Old Man and he has a whacky pride in the bizarre lamp that he won. I have seen replicas of the lamp for sale in catalogs.

Sit back and enjoy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Silent NIght, a 2002 Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie

I bought "Silent Night" in one of those DVDs that has four movies in it. Here's a few comments from Amazon viewers:

5.0 out of 5 stars Courageous mother

Strong story line: A mother who would not allow circumstances to control her life! Love this story! I have watched it numerous times since purchasing it from Amazon.com. Read more

Published 8 months ago by David Mikolajczyk

5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Movie

This movie hit a lot of bases. It showed how people could come together even when they're normally of opisition of one another. Read more

Published 9 months ago by Grizzly Adams "Rick"

5.0 out of 5 stars Must See Family Movie

Silent Night, is a movie for the whole family. It so impressed me that I ordered a copy for each of our six grown children. Read more

Published 9 months ago by Kaye Salverda

4.0 out of 5 stars Touching and well done

This is a touching and well done film that shows that hatred is never the answer. It takes place during WWII and American soldiers and German soldiers must share a home for the... Read more

Published 10 months ago by Penny Zeller, Christian Author...

5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT Movie

Never hearing of this movie I came across it in a four movie DVD christmas collection. I must say of the four movies included on the DVD this one was "TOP NOTCH". Read more

Blog readers, let me know if you've seen this movie? Would love your comments.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Favorite Christmas Movie - Trish Berg

Well, this is difficult for me as I am an avid Christmas movie fanatic. So ere is my top 5 list:

1. It's a Wonderful Life - Nothing beats this classic black and white tear jerker. I watch it 5 times every December. If you have not seen it, you MUST! It is inspirational, and even my kiddos love it!

2. Miracle on 34th Street - Both the old black and white version and the new re-make version. Both are inspirational and will bring back the excitement of Santa.

3. Arthur's Perfect Christmas - Yes, you may think this is lame, but I LOVE THIS PBS CARTOON movie. It is just so, well...PERFECT!!!

4. A Christmas Carol- Any version (Except the Muppet one...) Very inspirational.

5. Home Movies - Spend some time watching all of your own home movies from Christmases past. My kiddos love reliving the memories.

Whatever you watch, pop some popcorn, make some hot cocoa, snuggle up with the ones you love and enjoy the time together.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Gingerbread Cookies For The Tree

Gingerbread cookies make wonderful tree decorations. Not only do they look decorative but they add a wonderful aroma to your Christmas celebration. You can make them in the traditional gingerbread man shape or use a different shape for a themed tree.

6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup shortening, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup molasses
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.Sift together the flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon; set aside.

2.In a medium bowl, mix together the shortening, molasses, brown sugar, water, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, until they are completely absorbed. Divide dough into 3 pieces, pat down to 1 1/2 inch thickness, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

3.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 1 inch apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Use raisins for eyes and a piece of red licorice for a mouth. Buttons down the front can be either raisins or cinnamon candy.

5.Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. When the cookies are done, use a plastic straw to make a hole at the top for a ribbon or string hanger. Cool cookies on parchment paper or clean newspaper.

If cookies will be consumed after hanging on the tree, you might want to wrap them in clear cellophane wrap or thin plastic bag. Gather the wrap at the top and tie with ribbon that can be used as hanger as well. If you don't wrap cookies, they will definitely need a dusting unless consumed quickly.
If you will not be eating the cookies, you can add a little extra spice for that little more wonderful ginger smell.
[posted by Karen Robbins]

Friday, November 5, 2010

Nanaimo Bars, Rich Chocolate and Butter Cream

A friend at work introduced me to the sinfully delicious chocolate Nanaimo bars. She brought them in to work to share at Christmas and we all went into transports of joy as we tasted them.
There is chocolate and butter and sugar galore in these treats, which originated in the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada.
The recommended size for the pan is 8 inches by 8 inches, sprayed with vegetable oil or covered with parchment paper. The recommended custard powder is Bird's, which you can find online or in specialty shops, or you can substitute vanilla pudding powder. I bring the butter to room temperature before beginning. I don't have a double boiler, so instead I use a larger saucepan with water in it, and a smaller saucepan which sets on top, leaning in to the larger pan.
Ingredients for bottom layer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1/4 cup white sugar, 5 TB cocoa powder, 1 egg beaten, 1 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup chopped almonds, walnuts or pecans, 1 cup shredded or flaked coconut.
Melt first three ingredients in double boiler, gently whisk in egg, stir in rest of ingredients, and press in to greased pan. Refrigerate for about an hour.
Ingredients for second layer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, 2 TB cream or milk, 2 TB vanilla custard powder, 2 cups confectioners sugar.
Cream together 1st three ingredients, then add sugar and when mixture is smooth spread over bottom layer.
Top layer:
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (one ounce each), 2 TB unsalted butter.
Melt these slowly and when a bit cooled pour on top of middle layer and chill in refrigerator.
To prevent the top layer of chocolate from cracking when cutting, use a sharp knife and bring to room temperature before cutting.
This recipe gives about 16 servings and I read that they are about 300 calories, but I don't know for sure about the calories.
Prepare to be very popular when you share these Nanaimo Bars.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nutmeg Logs - Trish Berg

This is my mother-in-law's recipe, and we love the sweet, run flavor.

Nutmeg Logs

1 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoon rum flavoring
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream softened butter with the flavorings. Beat in the sugar, then mix in the egg. In a separate bowl, stir the flour, nutmeg, and salt. Mix with the butter/sugar mixture. Shape the resulting dough into snakes about 1/2 inch in diameter, and cut the pieces to 3 inches in length. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Frost with rum frosting. Make grooves in the frosting with a fork, and sprinkle ground nutmeg on the logs while the frosting is still moist.

Rum Frosting
1/3 cup soft butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoon rum flavoring
2 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons milk