“In brokenness, we find healing. We learn what parts of ourselves we want to put back together, and which pieces we don’t. This process can feel profoundly sad, as we may be temporarily lost.
When we lose the people, places, and purpose that defined us, we have an opportunity to make different choices. This can be a liberating and life-changing experience. We can be more of who we were always meant to be.”
May we see what’s possible in ourselves. We have the power to be who we were born to be, should we choose it. Let us accept the challenge to be happy, regardless of our circumstances.
God bless and keep you, this day and always, and may 2022 be a year of unlimited hope and spiritual prosperity.
Are you ready to say goodbye to 2021 tomorrow night at midnight? I think most people are impatient to see these troubled years go. We are reflecting on the past, in the hope that the future will be better. Yet we are all here at this particular time in history for a reason. May we experience the joys regardless of the grief surrounding us, may we see the beauty of time, even when the journey is painful, and may we find healing when we are broken. Here is a blog post that may inspire you to believe in the perfect synchronicity of your individual life and time:
The Beauty of TimeThe mysterious and miraculous story begins a little way down the page, scroll past the quote in the brown box. Here is the opening paragraph: “When I was Mom’s caregiver, I knew her little apartment inside and out because I was the one who cleaned it. Yet it looked completely different when Mom was no longer in it. That first time I entered the place after she had passed was when the first round of grief attacked me. Her tea cup was still sitting by her chair. It wasn’t right that it should be there if she was never coming back. Yet moving her cup was wrong too…” What unfolds is much more than a coincidence, serendipity. It is a reminder that every life matters, and we never leave or enter this world without our time here divinely connected to a greater picture. Think of each life as paint on a canvas. Separately, we may think we don’t form anything, but together we are a masterpiece. Read this story.
This year I wanted to step things up and create a personal and special Christmas that includes things that I made myself. I’ll share those projects with you. Maybe these ideas would work for you sometime (not necessarily for Christmas, but whenever you need a more personal touch to your gift giving).
First, the hair accessories! I got a sewing machine recently and taught myself how to make scrunchies. First I made Christmas themed ones that they could wear to class before Christmas, but I was secretly practicing to make everyday fashion ones in their favorite colors as stocking stuffers.
They liked the ones when I combined two coordinating fabrics into one scrunchie. I was rather proud of that idea! The other handmade gifts are food related.
I used a mortar and pestle to crush candy canes. I rolled large marshmallows over them. This is a fun topping for warm beverages.
These are streusel coffee cake loaves, set on top of their presents. Can you see the Christmas tree imprint on the loaf on your right? There are different designs on each loaf.
I made one for myself as well, as I LOVE coffee cake. Mine had a bell imprint. I enjoyed this personal sized cake very, very much! It was a wonderful treat on Christmas afternoon when I was sleepy from a happy morning and ready for a break in the festivities.
The homemade Christmas gifts were well received and were such a joyful surprise that I will do more of this in the future. I’m happy that I pushed myself to learn new things and to work harder to live richer. I started baking my coffee cake loaves at 5:30AM on Christmas morning. It was worth it! I then made Christmas doughnuts and a big breakfast. And they want to make Christmas breakfast a tradition.
It is my wish for myself and for you, to push ourselves to give more of who we are. Learn new ways to share and love those around you. Believe that you can do special things, and you are a special soul. Be loved, be of love, and be free. Enjoy the rest of your holiday season. God bless you and keep you, this day and always.
Sharing one of the presents from each family member of this theme: the nature that I love and share with you all here, through my oil paintings and stories. The above video shows the gifts my husband and oldest daughter gave me for my garden and the images below show the bird and butterfly related gifts from my younger two kids.
It feels good when the people we love understand who we are and what makes us happy. I loved receiving presents to help me enjoy my garden and beloved birds and nature. It is a Merry Christmas indeed! God’s world is a gift for everyone. JOY TO THE WORLD!
One of the surprises I was most looking forward to being revealed, was a custom branding iron that I got for my husband. I collaborated with my oldest daughter who created the art I wanted for the logo. We decided that an osprey was a good choice, since he loves seeing ospreys fly over our yard, especially the time when we saw one catch a fish. So, we captured that in a logo and added “Wood Crafted by …..” his name. We worked with a Russian craftsman online to get this to come together. It was a very fun experience and special. I couldn’t wait for him to see this!
He does beautiful projects, like original musical instruments. See this dragon shaped violin he made for our youngest daughter.
I will show you more of his work in future blog posts. But this is enough to show you that he really needs to stamp his work with his own logo and name, as these pieces will be heirlooms and are very special to us, as he is special to us!
I hope that you too had Christmas surprises that are meaningful and joyful. I will share a few other things later. Enjoy your holiday break and make many wonderful memories!
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired from all of the Christmas festivity. I stepped things up this year by trying new baking projects. In this cake I made on Christmas Eve, I used a yule log mold to make a modified gingerbread cake using Lebkuchen spices with Anise and Star Anise. I added a white chocolate frosting and shaped it to look like snow. I hand-painted food coloring using cake decorating paint brushes. So, I’m now painting on cakes as well! What a delicious canvas! As long as I don’t start thinking of my oil paints as something I’m tempted to lick off my brushes, I think there’s more cake painting in my future.
On Christmas morning I made special doughnuts. I learned how to bake using vanilla beans. My first attempt was to grate the bean, but I realized that I must be doing something wrong and I stopped. I looked it up and sure enough, this would have been a disaster. I was scraping the outside pod! 😀 So then I did it the right way, using a small sharp knife to cut the pod open and then scrape the soft black insides into my doughnut batter. That’s what makes the black vanilla specks. I rolled the finished doughnuts in powdered sugar and topped them with edible star-shaped gold glitter.
This was one of the best doughnuts I’ve ever eaten!
I also made a full Christmas breakfast buffet, that was kept warm with a glass warming tray. This way, the family could eat whenever they wanted to, and continue to graze throughout the brunch hour and beyond. The Southern biscuits (made with special White Lily flour, soft winter wheat: a Southern tradition since 1883) and gravy were DIVINE, but the family devoured all of these foods equally. They ate almost an entire bag of potatoes in a single day, which was quite an astonishing achievement for five people to consume!
This Christmas breakfast buffet was versatile. The family could use the sausage gravy over biscuits, or over the other foods. The biscuits also worked well for egg and/or ham sandwiches. So, breakfast could turn into lunch without stopping our fun to cook something new. Maybe this idea could help those of you who are looking for ways to make something special without cooking during the big event? I was able to do all of this before the family got too antsy, and then I was off duty for cooking. It was very nice, and everyone enjoyed the buffet!
I hope that you enjoyed a very happy Christmas. I have more stories to share, but I thought I’d start with the food, as it is something that we humans have in common- we love to eat! The Secret Santa chef game we played in the week before Christmas is a tradition we plan to continue. This is the first year we started a Christmas breakfast buffet and the family wants to make it a new tradition, including the doughnuts- but I’ll made a different kind of Christmas doughnuts each year, to be a surprise to see what I come up with!
This remains one of my favorite events with my kids. Husband is taking the video. This was the first year after Mom died and we had to fill the time we would have spent with her on Christmas. It was also the year that my husband was losing his job and training his replacements (the company was moving out of the country). We had recently sold the house we’d built, meaning I too lost my job because my teaching studio was in the home. We were spending Christmas in a house we’d rather not be in, for what we knew was a temporary arrangement. It did not feel like home, and we had no family members to visit.
I planned, and the kids agreed, that we would volunteer to perform at the free community dinner on Christmas Day. So, my son played guitar for some songs and we sang several carols. But the best was this song in the above video, as it was our last one and we felt such relief that we’d made it through the emotions of the morning.
As you can hear, it was very noisy in there, an absolute din from robust conversation. The vulnerable and needy were surely joyful on that Christmas morning! They were enjoying food and a happy atmosphere. It was hard to even hear us, but we did our best. After we finished, the family that was sitting only a couple feet away from us and had been riveted the whole time, came forward gushing as if we were famous celebrities, “We had front row seats!” 🙂 Behind them, few seemed to even be aware that we were singing, yet this family felt so special; as if they had the best seats in the house for a packed theater!
I will never forget how that felt. Then, we went back to our quiet place, our first Christmas without Mom and our home, and we saw our cheerful tree and our nice presents waiting to open. We had plenty of food in the kitchen, and we had each other. We were truly blessed.
I hope that no matter what your circumstances, that you are able to look around you- even if the place is not your home, even if you can’t be with your loved ones- and you still find the parts of your life that are truly blessed. For if we are alive today, it is for a reason. We are all precious, and we are loved by God. Peace be with you. Merry Christmas!
This song is part of the 45 minute Christmas variety show featuring 2 oil paintings, singing, and dancing: 2021 CHRISTMAS SHOW. Please share with anyone who would enjoy a free joyful event to watch over these special days. It’s Christmas Eve, dear friends. I hope that you are tucked away with people you love and are ready to celebrate Christmas.
God bless you and your family, this day and always.
This is the short time lapse version of one of the featured paintings in Christmas Show 2021 (the full 45 minute variety show with painting, singing and dancing is available on this site, YouTube, and BitChute). This nativity scene is larger than the one I’ve done in the past, as this one includes more than the central figures of Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus. Added are the wise men, shepherds, animals (cow, donkey, sheep) and angel. The Christmas star is included in both paintings.
I hope that you are enjoying a peaceful time with your loved ones, as we reflect on what Christmas means to us as individuals, and as we participate in our family traditions. Speaking of traditions, old and new: Tonight was the last surprise meal for our Secret Santa game. I said yesterday that I’d talk with you about that, so here it is: our youngest daughter made chicken gnocchi, and it was DELICIOUS!
We had a wonderful Secret Santa exchange this year and now we have gourmet leftovers to help us through the busy day tomorrow. I hope our family has inspired you to give this idea a try sometime. The week leading up to Christmas is a good time for families to share the cooking and try new special dishes.
Tomorrow is already Christmas Eve! I wish all of you peace, love, and joy. God bless you and your families.
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Yesterday was my son’s turn for our Secret Santa game. And today was my turn. Both of us managed to pull off a surprise that no one guessed. First, the reveal of what my son served yesterday: He made ratatouille, inspired by the movie. 🙂 I really enjoyed this dish. It was the first time any of us had tried ratatouille and it was fun to sample something different.
OK, now for my turn… I made chicken cordon blue and a side dish of egg noodles over buttered pea sprouts from my garden. First, the cordon blue: I used black forest ham and provolone cheese inside the butterfly cut chicken. The breading has an egg wash, Parmesan cheese, paprika, salt, and bread crumbs. Everyone loved it, said the chicken was moist and tender and gave me 5 stars. 🙂 My kids had never had chicken cordon blue before and it had been years since my husband and I had this dish, so this was very welcome and we enjoyed our dinner!
I was proud of my garden contribution. My son asked if I had fresh basil and parsley. Why, yes, I do! I was able to walk a few feet outside and cut the amount of herbs he needed for his recipe. The above picture is of my buttered pea sprouts mixed in salted egg noodles. It was very good! It’s fun to see my gardening starting to pay off. It makes me feel motivated to plant heavily this spring.
Tomorrow is my youngest daughter’s turn in the kitchen. I’ll tell you what happens. I have no idea what she’s planning. So far, all but my husband did a great job of keeping their meals secret. She has the last day, and our Secret Santa chef game will end for this Christmas. I’m already looking forward to next year!