Cookies and Kids and a stormy day…

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It was a dark and stormy day.


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And then the sun started shining in small patches over the trees.

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But the sky remained dark and the snow started coming down heavy and wet, the wind blowing it into silhouettes over the landscape.

And I went to play with a couple of five year olds.

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These two.

We read stories and told stories and listened to each other’s convoluted stories.

And we braided hair and made cookies and did homework and made Christmas presents and ate pretzels and peanutbutter with sprinkles.

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We made shortbread cookies with chocolate kisses.

Today I’m on a cookie baking marathon.

I’m going to make Best Ever Oatmeal cookies- so good- (really not like an oatmeal cookie with raisins) more like a crunchy, nutty, melt in your mouth with white chocolate stripes down the front.

And cut outs, Sugar and gingerbread.  But I’m not decorating today, just baking.

And Finnish Ribbon Cookies.

And Lemon Coconut Dainties.

I’ll post recipes later with pictures.

I better get started now- or I will have no cookies to show!

Still here and with a recipe to share: Spaetzle up your winter blahs!

  Long title, that! 

But I’ve discovered I get a lot of people looking for something specific and if you don’t title it- they can’t find it.

(my version of “If you build it they will come…)

I haven’t written in the last couple of days because:

1) I’m still sick

2)I’m still kind of whiney about it

3)I don’t want to write whiney.

So here is a great recipe for spaetzle- or German drop noodles/dumplings.

I never made these before Meredith went to Germany and came home longing for some.  In my family we made zsomervenka and spoon dumplings.  It is basically the same recipe, only the method is different.  But I love the method and the flavor of the spaetzle- so here it is!

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It has a distinctive curly noodle look- and since you make them in boiling water, they don’t incorporate the flavor of the dish as much as enhance it.

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The recipe is  basic noodle recipe;

2 cups flour (all purpose)

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

3/4 cup milk

Mix salt and flour with fork, making a well in the bottom of a medium sized deep bowl.  Beat eggs and milk together and pour into well, continue to beat liquids adding the flour into the mixture until the flour is totally incorporated.

I add a little more flour at this point- about 1/4-1/2 cup because I like my dough a little stiffer. ( If you want to make zsommervenka you need to add a lot more flour so that you can grate your noodles and allow them to dry slightly on tea towels.)  If you want to make dumplings, wet a spoon in your liquid-stew-soup- and drop small teaspoons of dough into hot liquid.

But if you want to make Spaetzle, then you need some extra equipment.

Spaetzle 031 This is a Spaetzle maker.  It is a bowl that slides over a flat surface with holes on it to let the dough drizzle through and cook in the boiling water in the pot below. (I know- no boiling water-  I have made a lot of spaetzle and I have a proper respect for the boiling water, having burnt myself more time than you can imagine.  So- I’m not making the spaetzle AND taking pictures at the same time, thank you very much!)  

If you don’t have a spaetzle maker you can use a colander with large holes and push the dough through with a spatula.  The spaetzle maker costs between $12 and 18 dollars- buy it- it’s worth it!

Spaetzle 032 You will also need a slotted spoon to take the spatzle out when it is done.  Since you are making these noodles on a continuous basis – about half way through stir the entire pot and take out the top layer of noodles.  The uncooked ones will sink to the lower pot of the pan when you stir it and you can continue cooking them for several more moments.  If in doubt- taste them.  YUM!  The cook’s privilege!


Spaetzle 025 When cooked you can add them to beef stew, or chicken paprikash, or carmelize an onion and add to the spaetzle.

My favorite is to make an extra batch and then fry up some bacon and sautee an onion in the fat, add  the spaetzle ,crumbled bacon and 1 cup of chopped Swiss cheese until it is all melty and delicious!

So if it is cold and rainy or snowy outside, boil some water and make your kitchen all steamy and wonderful with homemade Spaetzle! 

Your family will thank you!

Paper Whites growing up in the southern window-

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Willow always gives me paperwhites for Thanksgiving.  We share a love for plants and growth and green and flowers.  And I love knowing that our plants are growing up -mine here- hers in Columbus.

Look at the difference a day of sunshine makes!

These are going to bloom way before Christmas!  And I’m happy about that, because we won’t be here for Christmas, so I’ll get to enjoy them during the Advent season. 

Christmas is about relationship.  God within the Godhead- the Trinity opened to include us into eternal relationship.  Christ becoming man in order to bring adoption to mankind.  Relationship.

The gifting is there, most certainly, but the relationship is by far the center of the Christmas experience for me.  And the wonder of the incarnation- not from the point of view of mankind, but from God.  That surrendering of glory that Christ refers to in his high priestly prayer in John 17.  That sundering of relationship that involves flesh and blood.  The entire episode of becoming sin and stepping into the breach-paying the price- healing the breach of sin- and becoming our advocate.

So- when I start to get crazy about gifts and start thinking about what I can give, or make or buy- I look at these paper whites and think of relationship.  Because that is what makes this gift so precious to me- the giving of her understanding, the sharing of our interests and joys, the inclusion these lovely plants give me in my daughter’s life.

And in that reminder, I look again at Christmas- at a baby in a manger- at the relationships that rocked the Universe and set things straight. 

Peace on earth, Goodwill to men.

Making Boxwood Wreaths #2

Boxwood Wreath 001 Remember this post where I said making boxwood wreaths is fun and easy?

I wasn’t telling the WHOLE truth.  Making boxwood wreaths is fun but it isn’t always easy.  The wreath I showed then was a makeshift one, put together quickly and placed where no one will touch it until time to throw it out.  And that wreath-although it will dry nicely- cannot be used another year, because it was just loosely wired into place and has no real stamina.

I felt guilty acting all craftsy without telling and showing you how to make a boxwood wreath the more formal and accurate way.

I am using the boxwood we cut in Chincoteague.  I left it outside and it has been cool enough that it hasn’t dried out yet.

You will need a pair of wire/plant shears, thin gauge wire,  a wreath frame, green ribbon and about 2 1/2 hours to complete this wreath.

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Don’t quit yet.  Put on some Christmas music, brew yourself a cup of tea and create a little Christmas beauty and cheer.

Boxwood Wreath 003 Cut your boxwood into small pieces with several branches -making a lot of tips.

Boxwood Wreath 004 You will need a LOT of tips, cut to about 6 inches long.

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Boxwood Wreath 007 Gather them together, arranging them by size and direction, rather like a bouquet- face the fronts of the leaves to the front so that they match.

Boxwood Wreath 009Then close your palm around them and hold them tight,Boxwood Wreath 010 Boxwood Wreath 008

So that you can wire them into a tight little bundle.

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You will need many bundles.  Only use enough wire to hold them together and twist it tightly, because you need a long wire left over to go around the wreath form.(about 8-10 inches long)

Boxwood Wreath 021 I used a straw form that I’ve had for too many years to count.  But you could use grapevine or a wire form.  Take off the plastic wrapping and wrap the wreath with ribbon.  It helps to hold the wreath together and  makes it easier  to handle.

Boxwood Wreath 022Then, start to wire your boxwood bundles onto the wreath-

Boxwood Wreath 025and wrap the ribbon securely over the wired end, locking it into place.

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Boxwood Wreath 027 Add the next bundle next to the first, wire it into place and wrap with ribbon again.

Boxwood Wreath 028 Keep adding more bundles, filling in the space and covering all the bases with ribbon.Boxwood Wreath 029

You need to cinch the ribbon tightly so that it gives the bundles and the wreath added support.

This goes a lot faster than it sounds.  Most of the time spent making the wreath is put into cutting and making the bundles of boxwood.

Boxwood Wreath 030 Don’t worry about covering the back side- the nice thing about wreaths is that you are not going to see the back when it is on display.

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Now, add a big bow and hang it up in a prominent place.

Because YOU made it!

Boxwood Wreath 019 FYI- no animals or insects were hurt in the making of this tutorial.  I found a cocoon on one of the stems and took it outside and gently put it into the protection of an arborvitae tree.

This wreath will dry perfectly and if packed carefully can be used for several years to come.

Choosing Joy…


Larnelle Harris had a song some years ago entitled , “I Choose Joy”.

It had a really cute video that went with it, where he goes through his day, is hijacked, forced to run from the police and ends up in a car wreck and manages to smile (and sing) through this whole ordeal! 

My life hasn’t been that bad- but sometimes I feel like I’m being hijacked and forced to go and do things I don’t want to- and I very rarely smile or sing my way through the episode.  Mostly I grumble,  sometimes I shout ( and not for joy, either).  But I’ve decided I’m GOING to CHOOSE Joy even if it kills me.

Today I took some pictures of small joys in my day.

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Like farm fresh brown eggs….

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Christmas beverage napkins…..

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An orange Rex Begonia given me by a friend….

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An orange mirrored ball that hangs on my deck

and reflects the sunshine into my kitchen…….

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Wind chimes that sound like tinkling water…..

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And my sister who came over for toast, marmalade and tea!

This is where I was last year.

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This is where I was last month.

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And this is where I am now.

Is is just me – or does it look progressively darker and stormier?

I am not a holiday person.  I celebrate, but somehow feel really out of sync with the world around me.  My thoughts are dark and gloomy when elsewhere people are singing songs of joy. 

I have a cold and am drippy and miserable.

And today, when I went for a blood test, I looked down and saw a black sock and a blue sock on my feet- and it didn’t even bother me.

Pray for me.  I’m not feeling like myself.

Moonstruck in December

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moonstruck definition

moon·struck (mo̵̅o̅nstruk′)


affected mentally in some way, supposedly by the influence of the moon; specif.,

  1. crazed; lunatic; insane
  2. romantically dreamy
  3. dazed or distracted

Also moonstricken moon′·strick′en (-strik′ən)

It’s out there-big and beautiful reflecting down upon us.  On nights like this I watch for moonshadows and walk as silently as possible. 

Not because I’m a  1.crazed lunatic;insane, but because I have a 2. romantically dreamy sort of  personality, and am easily 3. dazed and distracted.

It really is beautiful tonight.

At around 4:30 the moon was getting ready for it’s starring role in tonight’s production- and in fact , I got several pictures of the dress rehearsal.

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It really is distracting isn’t it?

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I wish I was a better photographer.

Because this moon is fabulous.

And I am moonstruck.


Happy Birthday, Frank!

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This has been a rough year.  We have been swamped with  many different issues with which we needed to deal.  And business has not been good for anybody.  Frank has lost several of his sisters in the last couple of years.  But last week his oldest full sister died and it has bothering him nonstop.

So, when his sister, Elizabeth, and her husband Bob asked us out to dinner for his birthday, he was pleased.

I’ve given up on Birthday celebrations for Frank.  He always acts disgruntled and unhappy afterwards.  I had a big party for him several years ago and he just didn’t enjoy it- so I quit trying.

But tonight he was happy.  It is hard when you are the youngest of 12 siblings and don’t keep in close touch.  I am thankful that Elizabeth reached out to him.

Sisters are really good that way.