H C l O S e T H
Memories of Christmas Past
© 2008 Lorie Codispoti
Few things compare with the joy of childhood Christmas memories. Not only was I blessed to grow up with grandparents, but I was double blessed to have great-grandparents as well.
My great-grandfather loved the Christmas season, so much so that he thought nothing of using his woodworking skills to make gifts for the children in his community. My grandmother’s face would light up like a Christmas tree every time she talked about her father’s love for the Christmas season and the wonderful memories she had collected over the years. One of her very favorites was his firecracker tradition. It was one that he shared with three generations of his family.
Spending Christmas Eve at my grandparent’s house was such an elating experience that my sisters, cousins, and I had a hard time falling asleep. This yearly ritual, along with the popping sound of early morning firecrackers is one of my favorite, and earliest, childhood memories.
No matter what time we awoke on Christmas morning, we were not allowed to exit the blankets until we heard it.
What? What did we hear?
Well, it was the sound of great-grandfather’s firecrackers. Yep! My great-grandfather would rise early, bundle up and go outside to prepare for the arrival of Christmas morning. It wasn't long before we'd hear the multiple pops from the firecrackers in unison with his jolly voice as he hollered, "Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas, everyone!" (One year, he wasn't able to get the firecrackers, so he rang sleigh bells instead. I was convinced that I was hearing Santa exit the rooftop after a long night of visitations.)
Firecrackers were the signal for the children to rise. A cacophony of jubilant voices with a range of squeaks and squeals echoed throughout the house as we threw back our covers and bolted to the steps. It was there that my grandfather would stop us. We dared not pass him on the way downstairs. (It’s obvious to me now that both of my grandfathers were in cahoots on Christmas morning.)
It was such an animated moment that repeated itself every year. We followed Grandfather as he slowly crept down the stairs, mounting our curiosity with soft whisperings like: "Wonder what's downstairs! Wonder what happened while we were all sleeping! Wonder what Santa's brought us this year."
It was a painful combination of excitement and gut wrenching anticipation. He’d halt us at the step landing as he took a few more steps and peeked into the living room. Looking back at us with eyes as big as a cow, he took a deep breath and in a long, drawn out shout proclaim, "Oh my goodness! Look what I see! When we heard, “Children! LOOK!" we’d barrel past him like tumbleweeds in a windstorm - sure to have knocked him over if he didn't move. It was the grandest event of the year!
Christmas day followed with many wonderful moments as family members found their way home. Joy filled waves of gratefulness filled the air as we shared our Christmas meal. We all knew that we were incredibly blessed.
You know, it's amazing now that I think back on those wonderful memories; I don't remember very many of the gifts, and the ones I do remember would pale in comparison to what children receive these days. It really wasn't about the gifts. It was about the joy of family.
Next to both of my grandfather’s jubilant expressions and animated performances, the tangible things I remember most are things like my grandmother's pies, her homemade decorations, my great-grandmother's rolls and homemade applesauce, her love of music and the sound of her voice singing the carols we all loved. Their Christmas joy was contagious! It was heavenly! We were rich, but not in a material sense. My grandparents simply capitalized on the simple and made it grand.
“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:9-11)
May the Christ of Christmas fill our homes with contagious joy, and cause the eyes of our hearts to awake and follow the Great Light that was sent while we slept in the darkness of our sin. H
H S c H o O l R o O m H
C is for Contagious Christmas Cheer
Along with "counting down" the days till Christmas, why not "letter up" with some cheerful ideas to add to your holiday celebrations?Let's see if we can find a Christmas word and web-link to correspond with each letter of the alphabet.
Be forewarned: Reading this post may cause a large dose of Christmas cheer to fall on you. It won't be something you can keep to yourself either. I guarantee that spreading this condition may cause a cheerful reaction to infect all those you come in contact with.
Are you ready? Let's get started...
A = Advent
Advent is a term that means the four weeks leading up to the birth of Christ (Christmas). In the 17th century people would make chalk marks on their walls to give themselves a visual reminder of how many days were left until Christmas. Visit the advent link above to glean some wonderful ideas on ways for your family to meaningfully count down the 25 days before Christmas.
B = Bethlehem
You may not be able to physically visit Bethlehem this Christmas, but you can bring a little bit of Bethlehem love to others by making and sharing this O little town of Bethlehem card. Personalize your card even further by using the inside to testify of what Bethlehem means to you.
C = Contagious Christmas Cheer
Here's a great recipe for Christmas Cheer Cinnamon Sugar Shakers. "Shake it up, Baby! Twist and shout." Oops! Wrong thought process. ;-) Back to Christmas!
Share some sugar with this great idea. Everyone likes something sweet, and there's even a diabetic version of this recipe for those who need to watch their sugar intake.
D = Drummer
Watch this video of the Little Drummer Boy with your kids and talk about the significance of the story and how it's message can be applied to their lives this holiday season.
E = Eggnog
It's all about the nog, right? I absolutely LOVE egg nog, though drinking too much of it can give me a bit of belly ache, so I just drink a little and sip it very slowly to enjoy the flavor longer. Yummy.
I've never tried making my own, but this recipe looks like a good one if you want to try it. I like that the link is a "video-recipe."
F = Family
Ways to Keep Your Family Focused on Christ This Christmas is a wonderful article that suggests many ways for families to celebrate Christmas. Check it out.
G = Garland
This one is for my sister, Marcy. We had a discussion about this when she came to visit over the Thanksgiving holiday. She saw the Christmas garland I had made and we got into a discussion about the chains we used to make out of gum wrappers. Do any of you remember those? Well, I used that same method and substituted the gum wrappers for stiff Christmas looking fabric. It looks great and wraps all around my tree. I love it. Try using up all those bits and pieces of Christmas wrapping paper that usually goes to waste.
H = History
You know, things come alive when you hear the history behind them. For example, the story about eight-year-old, Virginia O'Hanlon. She began to doubt that there was a Santa Claus when her friends told her he wasn't real. She asked her father about it and he encouraged her to write a letter to the editor and ask them about it. (Sounds like a pass-the-buck position her father took doesn't it?) She did and the editor of the New York Sun took the opportunity to answer her question from a philosophical viewpoint.
This little, seemingly insignificant, letter to the editor has since been reprinted hundreds of times each Christmas season, by various periodicals, and has also been adapted into a TV movie. It's a very sweet letter and response. Take the time to read it and talk about the history of other Christmas stories.... especially the one that tells His-Story, the one of the Christ, the Baby born in a manger and the Savior who came to "seek and save the lost."
I = Icicles
If you like icicles you might enjoy using this picture as a wallpaper on your computer. I like to change my wallpaper often and I thought this was a pretty one.
J = Jesus
What better time to study the name of Jesus than Christmastime? This is a free, printable unit study on The Names of Jesus. The names are divided into 24 days and can also serve as an advent devotional. Each day includes discussion and a related activity.
K = Keepsakes
Keepsakes are those material things that evoke a favorite Christmas memory, moment, or event. Something that you can touch... Maybe your baby's first Christmas ornament. Maybe a photo album of family pictures taken next to your tree each year. Maybe you wear grandmother's Christmas apron when you cook the turkey. Maybe you have a special storybook that's only read on Christmas night. Maybe your family gathers on Christmas Eve to watch a favorite Christmas movie. The list goes on and on and every year our family reminisces over each keepsake and it's story. It's a wonderful time of sharing.
I have to say though, that our Christmas tree is probably the strangest "keepsake" on our list. It's the accidental keepsake that won't go away. LOL! Every year I plan to get rid of the mammoth tree that takes up our whole living room, and every year our family has the same Christmas Tree Debate. In fact, it's tradition now, a ritualistic part of Christmas that I'm still wishing away, but regrettably has seemed to find a warm place to snuggle in my heart. (Don't tell my family I'm confessing that. It could be to my ruin.)
Maybe one day I'll write an article on our family's age-old tradition of getting into a heated verbal exchange over that stinking tree, but for now I'll just suck it up and rent a crane to haul the ugly dinosaur that no body wanted out of the closet. (Tree tip: If it's someone else's cast away, let it go. Don't try to save it from the landfill graveyard. I'm still paying the price for saving the monster that comes out of the closet to bite me every year.)
L = Lists
Lists, lists, and more lists. I love working off a list. Scratching through an item on whatever list I'm working on gives me a sense of victory and makes me feel productive. You may be like me, or you may be one of those people who feels restricted and stressed by a list. Either way, I think this website will be useful to you. It's an online Christmas list that you can create and share with family and friends.
M = Memories
Everyone has a favorite Christmas memory. Here is an article where 31 Christian authors share their favorite memory with you. You will enjoy reading these.
N = Noel
Noel, the word we use in our language, is derived from three sources and means Christmas, birth, and new. Here's a website where you can listen to The First Noel, read the words to the song, and download a song sheet and music sheet. The website has other Christmas songs available as well.
O = Ornamentshttp://www.betterbudgeting.com/homemadechristmasornaments.htm
Ornaments are fun, aren't they? I like them because as a family grows so does there collection of ornaments. Each year a new ornament or two is added, along with a new tale associated with it. Our ornament/story collection consists of ornaments we've made, ones given to us, and ones that we've inherited. I especially love the homemade ones. When our children were young we began an ornament tradition with them. Each year we gave them an ornament so that they would have a collection of them to hang on their tree when they left home. I couldn't bare the thought of their first Christmas tree being bare. This is the first year one of our children will have their own tree, in their own apartment. It makes my heart smile to think that he won't have a bare tree, but one filled with happy family memories that he will be able to add to as his family grows.
P = Presents
Last week I had a woman tell me that her favorite holiday was Thanksgiving and her least favorite was Christmas; and her main reason was over the issue of presents. Isn't that sad? Yet, I remember feeling that way years ago myself. With everything that is piled up on your "to do" Christmas list you hardly have time to really enjoy the holiday. For many it is a stressful time, filled with more chores than cheer. We resolved a long time ago that we would only give Christmas gifts to our children. John and I don't even give one another gifts. There were several reasons for this, which would take another post to explain, but I can tell you that the lifted pressure from this one thing has freed all of us up to enjoy the true meaning of the holiday.
Here's an interesting present option though. A friend shared with me years ago something that their family started and I thought it was a wonderful idea. They wait till Epiphany to exchange gifts with their family. Tradition says that the Feast of Epiphany is the day that the wise men arrived in Bethlehem and presented the baby Jesus with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. (My friend also told me that the after-Christmas sales and shopping were wonderful. She gets great deals and the after-Christmas crowds are much smaller.)
Q = Quiet
One of the things our family enjoys over the Christmas season is to gather in the evenings and read a Christmas story. We each get our favorite mug and fill it with our favorite hot beverage, snuggle up together in the living room, turn the lights out, admire the decorated tree, and read. This is my favorite gift of the season.
I used to collect Christmas stories from magazines. I'd tear them out and file them away till Christmas, where we'd pull them out to read during our family gatherings. Well, a few years ago my wonderful husband bought me the entire collection of Joe Wheeler's Christmas In My Heart series. Now I have enough Christmas stories to share with the next generation.
R = Red
Red Boots For Christmas is an online story book that you can share with your children. There is also an audio version of the story that you can listen to and enjoy as a family.
S = Snowflakes
This one is for my husband, John. I've never known anyone who loves snow more than he does. He spent part of his childhood in Labrador and has some wonderful memories of ice skating from house-to-house, ice fishing, and riding skadoos. We don't get much snow here in NC, but when we do he reverts back to those fun, happy childhood memories and prays that we'll be snowed in for days.
Snowflakes are amazing aren't they? Everything about them is fascinating; from the science behind them to making your own and hanging each one from the ceiling with fishing line (something I did one year to decorate our school room for the winter).
T = Traditions
Too Much Tradition? I thought this was an interesting article that might be beneficial for some of you to read. Traditions can be wonderful and beneficial for your family, but they can also be a distraction that leads to unexpected expectations. Finding a balance for your family is the key to enjoying and embracing some traditions while being open to nixing the ones that don't work.U = Unity
In her book, 100 Ways to Have a Christian Christmas, Brenda Verner share with her readers 19 ideas, activities and projects that will assist you in unifying your family during the holidays. You might want to review this list and pick a few for your family to participate in.
V = Visitors
"Successful people do one special thing that other people don’t do in their planning -- they begin with the end in mind. They think about what makes the holidays special, and the answer is always “getting together with people.” Marcia Ramsland (Author of Simplify Your Holidays)
This entry is dedicated to my daughter, Jennifer, whose welcoming smile and cheerful heart is always ready to welcome visitors into our home. Even when she was a little girl, she would assemble all the children in the neighborhood and bring them over to our house for Bible studies and craft time. Do you have a child like that, one that is always asking you if we can invite so-and-so over? Well, I know it is an extra effort to have people over, but I also know that the joy it brings is worth it. Encourage your child if she is like this, and teach her the art of hospitality by giving her opportunities to hone her skills and find a balance between entertaining and family life. One day you will be invited over to her house! ;-)
W = Waiting
Waiting for Christmas. For some it is VERY hard; especially when they start to see retail stores decorating in October, and they start to hear Christmas music being played in the mall. A fellow blogger shares how her family celebrates the advent of Christmas day. She has been able to make the waiting enjoyable for the whole family.
X = Xmas
Some people get very upset when they see "Christ" in Christmas replaced with an "X". I used to be one of those people until I learned that the replacement was no replacement at all. The Greek letter, X, stands for Christ. We see it most commonly used in the term Xmas, but it was also used as an abbreviation for Christian (Xian) and Christianity (Xianity).
I love reading the origins of things. It has a way of clearing up misunderstandings, setting the record straight, and educating all at the same time.
Though some may try to take Christ out of Christmas by inserting an "X" in place of "Christ" it doesn't work. Christ is still in Christmas, and that should bring a cheerful countenance to your face every time you read, "Merry Xmas everyone!"
Y = Yams
Sweet potato casserole. Can you say, "Yammy!" Okay, okay. That was a bit cheesy, I admit, but yams are a pretty important ingredient in the Codispoti holiday dinner menu. This entry is dedicated to my son, Joshua. He is the yam-lovinest kid I've ever known. Ever since my sister-in-law, Pam, made the first Sweet Potato Casserole and shared it with all of us one holiday, it has become an absolute - you must absolutely NEVER forget this family favorite. Every year my son reminds me to make sure I have every ingredient on hand (like I need a reminder after all this time).
This link is the closest one to the same recipe that we use, only we use canned, evaporated milk instead of regular milk, and we also add about 3/4 c. of coconut. Yam-me! ;-)
Z = Zealous
"Our gospel is the unlikely tale that begins with an emperor’s folly, for in setting out to register "all the world," Augustus and his governor Quirinius put something into motion that transcends all earthly power. We know the story and how it comes out, but let’s try to see ourselves in the shepherds’ place, afraid to open ourselves to God and in need of reassurance, of being told not to fear. Let’s be willing, like Mary, to take the words in, to treasure and ponder them, because so much is possible when we do. As these words wash over us they penetrate, despite our defenses and distractions. Their spirit can move us and change us, whether we will it or not. Simply being present is enough, for church is a place that allows this transformation to occur. If we feel utterly exhausted, drained of all feeling and weary with worldly chores and concerns, so much the better. Our weakness is God’s strength. Our emptiness means that there is room for God after all." Kathleen Norris (Author of this article - Zealous Hopes)
My prayer for all of you this holiday season is that you will embrace the gift that was given to us all those years ago. (Isaiah 9:6 "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.") I pray that as you embrace the gift of God's Son, you will also embrace what He came for. (Luke 18:10 "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.") I pray that you will come to know Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. (Romans 10:9 "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.")
Christmas was one event, that happened one time. We have been celebrating the anniversary of that event ever since. May your heart be filled with Christmas cheer this holiday season. (Proverbs 15:15 "The cheerful heart has a continual feast.")
Merry CHRISTmas everyone!
H .... L i V i N g .. R o O m .... H
Many of you are homeschoolers, so I thought I'd share an article I wrote for our state's homeschool magazine back in 2004. It was two years after our youngest had graduated and I was finally getting around to rearranging the rooms in our house to accomodate the new season of life.
The Couch That Won’t Die
by Lorie Codispoti
Frugal Living is a class that every homeschool student should be able to list on his transcript. It might be considered a bird class (one you fly through) to some, but to others it would be an enrichment class whose rewards would long outlast the final exam.
Like many homeschoolers, we are a one-income family. It’s always been our desire to maintain financial freedom and live within our means. The Lord has adequately supplied for us in this area, and as a result we now have a collection of stories that we plan to tell our grandchildren. The latest entry is the story of our couch that won’t die.
I think I was born with a natural tendency to squeeze a penny so hard that it reaches screaming proportions much like that of a dog whistle, so high that you can’t even hear it. I can remember trying to convince my father that coupons were like money in your pocket.
Frugality began its work in me years ago as I watched my newlywed aunt collect items to decorate her home. She loved old glass bottles and the only way to acquire such treasures frugally was to go on what she called a dig. I had the privilege of accompanying her on several of these adventures. After carefully scouting out an ancient dumpsite, we’d spend hours digging down to the level that housed these valuable relics. We’d squeal like giddy schoolgirls upon each discovery. Dozens of bottles were collected this way, and I left the experience with quite an education about antique glass, not to mention a curious nose for digging.
A desire for treasure hunting is a prerequisite for frugal living, and I love every aspect of the dig. Whether it’s research that I’m engaged in, books that I’m searching for, or reduced canned goods I’m sifting through at the grocery store, treasure hunting always reinforces my motivation to save money and live frugally.
I personally think our family couch should be mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records for its longevity. It has no monetary value, but it has almost reached certifiable antique status. And like most homeschool family couches, it has been well USED. My babies were nursed and read to on it. They learned to read and logged many classroom hours seated upon its cushions. Many fellowship events have overloaded it with more bodies than it was designed to handle. We’ve laughed, cried, prayed, and played on it, and everything from cowboy sheet forts to princess castles has been built upon its sturdy frame. Why, the sick have even been nursed back to health cradled between its arms.
Yet, after all these years and all this use, there continues to remain one outstanding feature about this aging dinosaur that astounds me. There isn’t a worn spot on the fabric anywhere! Honest! Buttons have popped, cushions deflated, stains acquired, and bolt replacements made after spring explosions (an interesting event when guests are visiting), but there is no indication of fabric wear. The Lord has kept this couch from completely wearing out, thereby negating the frugal side of me from justifying a new one, until now.
Seasons change and it’s time for the schoolroom to morph into the den it was designed to be. Both our children have graduated and our home is putting on a new face. For years I have anticipated the day that this couch would finally die. In fact, I have even gleefully envisioned lighting a match to the old thing and watching it burn in the backyard while we roast marshmallows over its coals.
Everything changes, but not everything is changed in the process. I may acquire a new couch to go in my new den, but have I learned the lesson its longevity has to teach me? It’s not frugality, as one might think. Frugal living has been the means, but the underlying purpose of this lesson has been contentment. It’s strange, but I think that in a nostalgic sort of way, I’m going to actually miss this old couch. Maybe I’ve learned that contentment is not something we dig to find like a buried treasure. But rather, it is more of an attitude that one acquires while searching out the treasures in each season of life. I hope to testify, like the apostle Paul, that “I have learned that whatever state I am in to be content.”
Because frugality will always be at the core of my being, I have decided to recycle part of my couch’s oak frame and mount it to the den wall. Long live the Codispoti couch! It will house the quilts I plan to make now that I am a retired homeschool mom. The ashes from the rest of it will be added to my compost pile and possibly pave the way for a new hybrid vegetable—the couch potato. (Sorry! I just had to say that!) Whatever its fate, this old couch will serve as a reminder that Frugal Living’s been a favorite class, and contentment a valuable lesson.
© 2004 The Couch That Won’t Die by Lorie Codispoti. Lorie is a retired homeschool mom. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org H
For two weeks now the super-store in our nearby town has been out of paper sandwich bags. I thought that was a little strange, but yesterday my husband stopped by a local grocery store on his way home from work and found that they too were out of brown, paper sandwich bags. What's up with that, I wondered?
Mystery solved! I read today that sandwich bag sales have risen 25% in the past month. Cash- strapped shoppers have taken to fakeaway lunches these days.
(Fakeaway is defined as, "a homemade meal similar to a take-away meal purchased from a restaurant.")
Fakeaway? The word sounds criminal, doesn't it? Well... "Book 'er, Dan O!" I'm guilty. I've been fake-awaying for years. (Hey, I'm the mom that cleaned and saved those plastic pancake syrup containers and invented the first water bottles for my kids in the early 1990's. Now you can buy it that way at Mac's House of Beef, without the handy handle for belt loops and no-drip, no-lose pop top, of course. Oh! If I'd of only known.)
Truth is, if you think about it, the fast-food industry are the ones who've taken what used to be made at home, mass produced it, and started selling it through a window - in a PAPER BAG! Now, I ask you, where did fakeaways really come from? (That's OURS, girls! We own that origin.) I think someone has their definition backwards, and their origin confused.
There now. I feel so much better now that we've solved the true origin of fakeaways. Now it's time to put out an APB on brown paper sandwich bags and see if I can find some. Funny thing is, I don't even want them to pack lunches with. Duh! I use a lunchbox for that. ;-)
What To Do With Brown Paper Bags
This addendum to the Fakeaways post is in response to your emails asking me what I planned to do with the bags when I found them. (BTW, thanks for writing!)
I like to keep the sandwich sized paper bags on hand for many reasons. First, they make great gift bags. You can decorate them (see link below), or just fold over, punch two holes and tie a raffia bow to secure. Second, dress up a small plant by covering the ugly plastic container it comes in with a paper bag. Roll down the tops (or cut down and trim edges with fancy scissors), fill with a purchased small plant (like a cactus or African violet), tie a bit of raffia just under the rim... and voila, you have a nice table accessory. Third, they make great pages in a homemade card or scrapbook.
One year I made gingerbread paper ornaments for our Christmas tree:
I made two identical cut-outs from the paper bags (use brown paper grocery bags - they're stronger), and an additional cut-out from white quilt batting. I sandwiched the batting between the paper and machine stitched (set on the basting stitch) around the entire edge of the cut out with a thick contrasting color. I decorated the fronts and attached a string loop to hang on the tree.
Here are a few more ideas:
Paper bag gingerbread house - http://www.makingfriends.com/winter/christmas_gingerbread_house.htm
Paper bag flowers - http://www.marthastewart.com/article/paper-bag-flowers
Scherenschnitte - http://www.marthastewart.com/article/paper-cutouts
There's so much you can do that you will find yourself asking for paper instead of plastic at the grocery store, or if you're like me, I save the paper bags that I bring my frozen foods home in. There are just too many good things to use them for to throw them away. Have fun! H
Two more things for your medicine chest:
This recipe was given to me by a doctor years ago. It has proven itself with our family, and other's that I have shared it with. In fact, my dear friend, Susan L., affectionately named this concoction, LOG water. Make up a batch of this to take for colds and flus, as well as a preventative for the same.
One of the best things you can do to prevent an earache (and stay off infections) is to put two drops of hydrogen peroxide in each ear after you get out of the shower. If the ear is already hurting try this twice a day and see if it clears up after a couple of days. (You will hear the oxygen bubbles doing their thing, so don't be alarmed.) A pharmacist once told me that he used a drop of rubbing alcohol in each ear after a shower. He said that this is the main ingredient in most ear drops. We've done the alcohol, but I think the peroxide works better if the ear is hurting.
For Urinary Tract Infections
Some woman are more prone to this than others, and once you have a UTI it seems that you are more susceptible to them, unless you make some lifestyle and diet changes. I have found several things that have worked for me.
To prevent a UTI:
~ Keep the sugar intake LOW. Too much sugar throws off your chemical balance and will multiply the bad bacteria and create havoc in your urinary tract.
~ Buy concentrated cranberry juice (not the kind in the grocery that's loaded with sugar). I get this from a health food store. It comes in a 16 oz. bottle and costs about $12. Twice a day I add 1 T. cranberry to a full glass of water and drink it. (After a while the taste isn't so bad.)
~ WATER! Drink LOTS of it and cut back on the sugar drinks.
~ Wipe from front to back after a bowel movement.
~ Don't have intercourse during your period.
~ Bump up your vitamin C and garlic intake.
If it's too late for preventative and you feel the onset of a UTI, here's a good regiment to go on (but ONLY for 3 days - no longer - this is VERY important):
~ Cut ALL red meat, white flour, and sugar completely out of your diet. DON'T cheat on this. All three of these feed the bad bacteria and cause it to multiply rapidly.
~ Drink 16 oz. of water EVERY hour during the day. (You can also do 8 oz. every half hour. Yes, you will pee a lot, but that is a good thing. You need to flush, flush, flush your system.)
~ To 8 of the glasses of water add: 1 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice and 1 T. cranberry concentrate.
~ Eat plain, unflavored, unsweetened yogurt throughout the day.
~ Take Acidopholis (Get this at the health food store and follow directions on label.)
The key here is to starve the bad and multiply the good bacteria.
Note: Antibiotics kill both the good and the bad bacteria. Take Acidopholis after (not during) any antibiotic regiment. This will prevent yeast overgrowth too. (Taking A. while on antibiotics is a waste of time. The antibiotic will kill the good bacteria you are trying to replenish with the A.) H
H ..... K i T c H e N ..... H
Here's another quick and easy recipe. Pack up a bunch of little snack bags and take them with you when you have a full day of errands and activities. When the munchies hit, the kids will have a healthy, cheap snack to fill their tummies till you get home... and it's an easy clean-up if one of your little ones accidently spills a bag.
Practice hospitality. Live in harmony with one another.
It's Not About The Cooking
Confession: I really don't like to cook that much, but I thoroughly enjoy having company. Isn't that crazy? Company and a disdain for cooking - the two just don't seem to go together, do they?
My grandmother was like that too. She didn't like to cook. I'll always remember the day she rattled my ice bin with that shocking confession. This, from the world's greatest cook? How could she say such a thing? It was what she said next that has become a standard in the way I view cooking and serving others. She told me that, although she really didn't like to cook, she really enjoyed people coming together at her home, and that food was a great medium. (If you feed them they will come!)
Grandmother made some of the BEST food I ever ate. She became famous in her small town with her homemade pies (coconut cream was my favorite). My grandfather ran a diner and the both of them worked very hard to provide for their family through the specialties they provided their regular customers. They rose VERY early to prepare the day's menu items. We awoke every morning to see her peeling a 50 lb. bag of potatoes for french fries, and to the wonderful smell of homemade chocolate filling for one of her pies. Grandfather would be in the pantry grinding all the beef for hamburgers and pork for barbeque sandwiches.
Grandmother would go from helping her husband to preparing food for her family, and anyone else that happened down her driveway that day. She decided, as a young woman, that she needed to develop the art of cooking if that was what brought people to her home. That attitude served her very well for many years, and I would venture to guess that not many people ever knew that she really didn't like to cook (until now ;-) ).
Now, contrast that with my mother-in-love, who absolutely LOVES to cook. She relishes the idea of spending a whole day in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove. One of the things I've learned from her is that the wow factor is not in WHAT you make, but in HOW you present it.
She doesn't use complicated recipes. In fact, she is very much a boxed mix and jarred sauce type of cook. What she does have in her favor, and what wows her guests, is her contagious hospitable spirit and entertaining personality. I dare say that if her brownies burned she'd scrape the bottoms off, turn them upside down, slap a huge dollop of whipped topping on each one and top them off with the shavings of a shredded candy bar. You'd think you had just ordered the specialty dessert of the week at some fancy restaurant. She'd enter the dining room with a tray filled, all while laughing and carrying on like nothing had ever burned in the kitchen.
Can you see what my grandmother and my mother-in-love have in common, though their views of cooking are totally different? They both love the idea of their homes bringing people together. Hospitality can be nurtured and developed, whether you love cooking or not.
This attitude is one that I hope to continue perfecting as time goes on and the Lord continues to bring people to our home. Now, where did I put that box of macaroni and cheese? H
There's nothing I enjoy more than when our family gets together. Whether we are reading a book, playing a game, working on a project, watching a movie, or just sitting around reminiscing tales of days gone by; we have a blast together. We laugh and carry on like there's no tomorrow.
My list of FUN things to do together is very long, so I"m going to stagger my ideas throughout my blog posts and try to limit it to the not-so-obvious suggestions. (Feel free to contribute your ideas too. Email me at gates-of-elloree (take the hyphens out) @ yahoo.com with your suggestions. Include your contact information.)
Camping! NOT the kind that requires hours and hours worth of preparation, but the easy kind - with indoor plumbing. ;-)
We had a four person pop tent that we used to set up in the family room on occasion. We'd pile all the sleeping bags and pillows in there, put our jammies on, make sure the answering machine was turned on and the ringer and volume turned OFF. We'd turn all the lights out and tell stories, jokes, etc., for hours. When the kids got older we graduated to a larger tent... and the back deck (still with indoor plumbing), where we'd go to sleep with all the critter sounds (bugs & frogs mostly) and awake to the sound of the birds singing. We have some great memories of those fun times.
Here's a link to a good article on indoor camping:http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28349.asp
Here's a link to a website that will give you some great indoor family game ideas:http://familyfun.go.com/games/indoor-outdoor-games/specialfeature/cabin-fever-games/
Enjoy every moment together. Time passes SO very quickly. H
H .. M a S t E r .. B e D r O o M .. H
A Retreat or a Retreat
When unexpected guests pull up in the driveway do you make a mad dash to close your bedroom door? That's the first sign that your bedroom is not a welcome retreat. Wouldn't you like to think of your bedroom as a place to retreat TO, and not a place to retreat FROM?
Well, it's not that hard, but it will require a new attitude and a little daily maintenance. Here are a few ideas that will turn your master bedroom (Where you leave the lights OFF and use your arm like a machete' to hack your way in the general direction of the bed.) into a master suite. (Where you hope to turn the light on and linger to admire the beauty as it bids you enter for a restful night's sleep.)
1. It starts first thing in the morning. DON'T leave your bed without making it up - even if you are the only one that will see throughout the day. This is HUGE! The attitude you will have throughout the day as you go in and out of your bedroom is directly associated to the appearance of the main focal point in your room (the bed). If you leave your bed with an inviting appearance then you will enjoy the retreat at bedtime.
2. Keep the room tidy. Like the bed, your room's appearance affects your attitude. If clothes are picked up, shoes put away, clutter managed, etc., even in a little room, it relaxes you every time you enter and will be a welcome site at the end of a busy day.
3. Make it smell nice. My husband loathes strong scents, but I have found that the linen scented plug-ins aren't as offensive to his sense of smell. It smells like fresh sheets and a clean room.
4. Have a night stand on both sides of the bed, preferably the kind with drawers, and a small lamp on each one. I like to do a little reading before going to sleep, so having my own little spot for reading material is a treat. During the day the material can be tucked into the drawer, leaving the nightstand clutter free.
5. Keep your dresser top free of clutter. Don't allow your dresser to be the catch-all for small items that belong elsewhere in the house (rubber bands, paper clips, toys, dishes, etc.) Keep a basket or some other kind of container in your room that will hold these kinds of items until you have time to put them away. Use your dresser top to display things that are enjoyable to look at. I keep a cross-stitched picture that my daughter made me when she was little, my jewelry box, and a picture of my husband and myself on mine. My husband has similar, personal items on his. The key is to evoke a smile every time you walk by.
6. Remember, this is your husband's retreat too. Unless he likes a pink room with a floral spread and frilly pillows, choose a look that will blend both of your tastes. Save the deer head for the game room; or better yet - the garage, where a dead animal can be useful by scaring any would-be intruders away. ;-)
This is step one in creating an inviting master bedroom retreat. I have some wonderful ideas for developing the romantic element in your master suite, but that will have to wait for another post. Stay tuned! H
H ..... G a R a G e ..... H
Two Things You Never Run Out Of
When you live 30 minutes from the closest town and something breaks on a Sunday afternoon, you better have two things on hand... duct tape and WD40. They're all any real man needs to qualify as a mechanic, plumber, carpenter or electrician. Most kids know that Daddy is the invincible man if he has WD40 for his squeeky bike tire and duct tape to patch his inner tube. With these two staples on hand, any man can be a hero; and without them, well, he's just another guy. ;-)
If you Google various uses for duct tape and WD40 you will come up with hundreds of ideas. Some of them are very inventive, some are practical and useful, and some are just down right hilarious. I'll post a couple links for you to peruse at the end of this article.
Here's a list of the funniest duct tape uses I read ...
Repair holes in jeans. (I think this is our son's favorite.)
Tape it to your butt - makes a great sled in the winter. (Glad he never thought of this one.)
Fix the toilet seat
Wrap it (sticky side out) around furniture legs to keep cat from clawing. (You could start a new decorating trend with this one.)
Use for contruction when nails are in short supply. (That makes me feel safe.)
Hair remover (Ouch!)
Secure your dog at a picnic (How about a cat? "Here, Fluffy!")
Repair expensive clothing, from the inside, of course
Use as sticky notes
Attach multiple layers to bottom of doors to prevent drafts
Use to secure partially severed limbs (Ouch, again.)
Makes a great gift for any man who wants to be his kids hero
And, here's my favorite... use it for what it was made for: to repair heating ducts! (Go figure!)
Now, what about WD40? How many uses might it have, you wonder?
Here's a list of the funniest, though some useful, ones I read...
Spray on new leather shoes to prevent blisters (Who knew leather could blister?)
Unstick Lego blocks (See, I told you Dad can be a hero.)
Removes super glue from fingers
Spray on your finger if you can't get your ring off
Insect repellant and roach killer
Unstick wobbly shopping cart wheels (What every mom carries in her diaper bag, right?)
Spray on joints to relieve arthritis symptoms (People swear by this around here.)
Relieve bee sting pain
Keeps flies off cows (I'm sure the cows appreciate it.)
And my favorite...
Use to remove stuck prosthesis
WD 40 Links
Have fun exploring the many uses of duct tape and WD 40. H