Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking toward the new year...

It was this time last year when I decided that rather than making resolutions, I wanted to have a theme for 2008. That theme came from the desire for 2008 to be a year filled with the "Fruit of Thankfulness." As I look toward 2009, I want to again allow the Lord to lead me. I want to seek to follow Him in every area of my life. I am thinking now of Proverbs 3:5-6 which says I should trust in Him with all my heart, that I should not trust in or lean on my own wisdom or understanding, that I should think of or acknowledge Him in all my ways... and that if I do these things, He promises to direct my path or make my path straight. A straight path is so much easier to navigate and so much less hazardous than one with twists, turns, and nuances that are unexpected. I don't know about you, but I like the thought of walking on the straight path with level ground around my feet at all times. He can even make the hills and valleys seem level if I am walking closely with Him.

This past year has been one of rediscovering my love for artwork and just the creative process in general. I am so thankful for what the Lord has done in my life over this past year. And while rediscovering my artwork was exciting, it means nothing apart from Him. So I am looking forward to this year with great anticipation that whatever it might hold, the joy is not in what happens but in the One with whom I am walking through it. I pray the same for you... may you discover that the joy is not in the circumstances or in the "doing"... but the real joy comes from knowing the One who has created you, gifted you, and brought you to the place in which you find yourself.

May God bless you in 2009 as never before,
From Charm & Grace Cottage

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

A beautiful day was spent here in our cozy cottage... it began with reading the story of the nativity together in the children's upstairs bedrooms before coming downstairs to see their gifts. After exchanging gifts with each other, we cleaned up a little... just in time for two sets of grandparents to arrive. We enjoyed a lovely lunch of smoked turkey, smashed sour cream potatoes, traditional green bean casserole, boiled shrimp, salmon dip, and hot spiced apple cider. Dessert was a Cranberry Swirl Coffee Cake topped with icing and pecans. Then, of course, there were all the baked goodies to snack on all afternoon. We had the movie Holiday Inn playing in the background. Once the grandparents left, the five of us played games and then watched White Christmas, probably our favorite Christmas movie. It's time for bed... we're exhausted... but surrounded with love and very, very blessed.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

From Charm & Grace Cottage

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sorrowful days... yet filled with Hope!

Two families that have been such a large part of my life have lost loved ones over the weekend. Somehow, it seems this shouldn't happen at Christmas, and yet I know God's timing is perfect. My heart is breaking for their losses, but knowing both of these people were believers and understood salvation allows us to grieve not as those who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 5:13 "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.") Hope has a name: Jesus. And if not for Christmas, we would not have that Hope. So, while we grieve and mourn our loss and temporary separation, we look forward to the reunion with hope that does not disappoint. (Romans 5:5 "and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.")

Welcome To Our World
by Chris Rice

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You've been promised, we've been waiting
Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child

Hope that you don't mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long-awaited Holy Stranger
Make Yourself at home
Please make Yourself at home

Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven's silence
Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

Fragile fingers sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born

So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world

If you don't know this one, it's worth watching this and hearing the melody... hauntingly and simply beautiful.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Anniversary to us... and more tour

Today is our 22nd anniversary. I have now been married over half my life (you mathematicians should have a ball with this one.) Anyway, I have sooooo much shopping and running around to do, so we are going to have a mini celebration -- lunch at one of our favorite restaurants just a couple of miles from home. I am looking forward to it!

Here is our den tree...

This is an ornament I cross-stitched the first year we were married. It's now been on our tree every year for 21 years.

My children have always loved the colorful lights and brightly colored ornaments on this particular tree.

This ornament was a present at a Christmas Wedding Shower for the two of us; it says "Our First Christmas." A Christmas Shower is a great idea for couples getting married, as you usually don't have any Christmas decor that first year.

Our kitchen table ...beribboned brass candlesticks.

Our dining room table with lighted village in the background...

Foyer nativity which I have had since I was a very young girl. My mother and I made it as a ceramics project...

Carolers that were given to me by my grandmother, who had exceptional taste in all her decorating. (She is the one who introduced me to Victoria magazine.)

Christmas Blessings!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

More Christmas Tour...

Here's a look at our home from the outside. A little love for the mailbox...

A veiw from the front...

The door...

Lamp post at night... (you can see the reason the window next to our front door has no wreath on it like the others...)

And if the Weatherman wanted to send a little of this kind of frosting to go along with my Christmas decor, it would be just fine with me!

Merry Christmas from my house to yours!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Peppermint Red Velvet Cake... yummmm!

Here is a Southern Living recipe that will wow your guests! The photos are of the one I made (for the first time) last year. This one's a keeper.

Red Velvet Peppermint Cake

1 (18.25-ounce) package white cake mix
3 egg whites
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (9-ounce) package yellow cake mix*
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting
Garnishes: Holiday Trees, 6 (5-inch) red and white peppermint candy canes, crushed; 12 (5-inch) green candy canes, broken; 12 round peppermint candies

Beat first 4 ingredients according to cake mix package directions.

Beat yellow cake mix and next 6 ingredients according to package directions. Spoon red batter alternately with white batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cakepans. Swirl batter gently with a knife.

Bake at 350° for 22 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks.

Spread Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. (Cake may be chilled up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month.) Garnish, if desired. Serve within 2 hours.

*1 3/4 cups yellow cake mix may be substituted

NOTE: For testing purposes only, we used Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe White Cake Mix, Jiffy Golden Yellow Cake Mix, and McCormick Red Food Color.

Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 (2-pound) package powdered sugar
2 teaspoons peppermint extract*

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating at low speed until smooth. Add extract, beating until blended.

*2 teaspoons vanilla extract may be substituted.

One final hint: if you garnish with peppermint sticks as I did, you may want to remove them after the original serving of the cake... they tend to run and become gummy. Hope you try it and love it as much as I did!

From Charm & Grace Cottage

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Thank You and A Christmas Tour

I want to thank you all for your kind thoughts, prayers, and wishes for a speedy recovery! I am well now and back to good health. Though it took a while to shake this and the timing was inconvenient, I am thankful to be better. Hope you are all managing to dodge this round of nastiness.

I am working diligently on commissioned artwork which must be completed in a timely fashion in order for my clients to have them before Christmas. So, blogging is taking as dismal backseat to getting those things done. I will be posting pictures once the artwork has been gifted and sent away to new homes. For now, I will try to do a series of posts showing some of my Christmas decor.

First, we'll begin with "my" tree... this one is in our living room and is decorated with gold, silver, white, and crystal ornaments. It has many heirloom ornaments and a few that I made specifically for this tree which you'll see in the last few photos.

The pinecone ornament is made from two small pinecones which are sprayed with gold paint and hot glued to either end of a gold braided cord. The seashells above are spraypainted gold and silver. I then hot-glued a small ribbon to the top. Once the glue dried, I used hot glue to attach strung pearls spiraling around the looped ribbon and covering the glue. This has proven to have held for many years now.

Thanks for joining me for the tour!

From Charm & Grace Cottage

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I have fallen down a black hole....

and it's not a nice rabbit hole like Alice fell down. My hole is a foggy brained, achy, feverish place from which I can't seem to climb out. It started as a sore throat on Thanksgiving Day then proceeded to fully blown tonsil-touching, can't-swallow-soreness by Sunday. It then made it's way into my head and now it is also causing coughing fits to beat the band. Thank the Lord and good science for Robitussin DM and Sudafed (and of course Kleenex)! I feel that tomorrow will be my breakout day (how's that for positivity?) I can't even bring myself to say that this stuff is for the birds... I wouldn't wish it on those poor harmless creatures! I am not sure I'd even wish it on those tortuous chipmunks that are wreaking havoc on our attic (okay maybe I would.)

I haven't had the energy or the desire to look at the computer these past few days, so I have a bunch of catching up to do. I just felt the need to check in tonight, as it has been too long. Hope all of you out there are having a wonderful first week of December! I hope to share some Christmas decor pictures with you very soon... for now here are some of my Thanksgiving table.