Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Dessert Recipe

For our Christmas dinner I served 'Peppermint Torte' for dessert. This is a recipe I have used for many years from my friend Mary Brestel. She put it in a Christmas cookbook our church ladies put together in 1980, and the church was Powellhurst Baptist in Portland, Oregon. The cookbook was divided up into 4 separate booklets, each highlighting traditions and recipes for the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas. I have referred back to these little booklets for many tasty treats. This year I made this torte, and Monica saw my menu's and asked for the recipe. Here it is and I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.
Peppermint Torte
For crust:
1/2 lb. chocolate wafers, crushed (plain without frosting)
2/3's of a cube of butter
Melt the butter and mix with the wafer crumbs. Pat down firmly into a 8"
or 9" x 11" pan.
For filling:
Melt in a double boiler until smooth:
1 package large marshmallows
1 c. evaporated milk
Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally so the sugar doesn't separate and go to the bottom of the pan. Add 1/2 t. peppermint extract to mixture. For the holidays add enough green food color to make the filling a darker green (it will lighten up when combining with the whipped cream). Whip 2 C. whipping cream to stiff peaks and carefully mix in the marshmallow mixture until combined. Pour filling over cookie crust and store in refrigerator until ready to serve. (Can be refrigerated for a couple of days if necessary). When serving, top each portion with a dollop of whipped cream and green sprinkles. Easy to make and delicious to eat!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Memories

To wrap up my holiday posts (and to wrap up the holidays) I decided to post a series of miscellaneous pictures taken the week of Christmas. These photos depict the wonderful week we had in celebration. To begin....this is the wonderful Saturday-before-Christmas morning breakfast we enjoyed together, just the two of us. We made up a blueberry pecan baked french toast recipe, along with maple blueberry syrup. It was a nice peaceful morning and a delicious breakfast. Our friend Kyle and his Christmas dog 'Bailey' came for a Christmas movie night on Sunday. We watched an old collection of vintage Christmas Cartoons, including a fun one called 'Jack Frost'. It depicted Jack Frost as a little artist elf, painting the seasons.
We also watched 'It's A Wonderful Life' courtesy of Kyle. He had met one of the characters (Zuzu the daughter) and had a signed copy to share with us. He also knew some of the interesting behind the scenes stories, so we kept stopping while he shared these.
Bailey is the perfect little Christmas he's mostly white all over.

He also had a haircut recently, and with our cold weather his Santa coat comes in handy.
Here is our living room and Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve all waiting for the fun to begin. We went to Church at 6:00 for our annual Candlelight Service and had 5 out-of-town guests arrive and our daughter JoAnn while there. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner together, then moved to the living room for caroling and the reading of Luke 2.
On Christmas morning JoAnn, my insurance man and I enjoyed a quiet time of opening stockings together. We then had a big breakfast with all of us and had 3 more guests join us (4 if you count Bailey). After breakfast we moved into the living room again to enjoy the giving of our gifts.
This is our Mom Bethel and our Aunt Wilma after they finished opening their gifts.
Later 2 of our guests left to journey on their way and the rest of us had a nice Christmas dinner together. This is the table before all the food was served. What a beautiful Christmas eve and day we enjoyed.
One special highlight of the season was the snow that fell all day long on Christmas Eve, and coated every branch, blade and leaf for a glorious appearing on Christmas morning. This little fir tree is out front of our house, and has finally grown big enough to warrant Christmas lights. The last thing I did Christmas Eve was to snap this picture of our lovely little tree in the snow shinning brightly.
We had a lovely celebration, as I hope you all did too. We made many happy memories, and were especially glad that our Aunt Wilma could be with us at age 92.
In closing, I want to reprint a quote that Mom found in a calendar of mine:
"Behind every joyful Christmas season are busy hands and loving hearts that make the memories and then pack it all up for next year, when once again they'll have the joy of unpacking the memories." Sandy Lynam Clough
Thank you Lord, that you gave us the privilege of hosting our celebration this year, and that we could serve you in serving our guests. I am now busy packing it all up and enjoying the memories....

Saturday, December 27, 2008

God is Good

I want to say that as I looked back through the pictures I took of our Christmas celebration, I was almost overwhelmed by the truth of God's goodness to me. He has blessed me. The life I live here at home with my children and with my husband is God's gift to me. Bountifully am I bestowed with good gifts. I can see them and count them below. Thank you, Lord.My favorite Christmas gift, with a bow on top.

Holiday Feasting

Since Mom posted about feasting and included our dinner plans, I thought I'd share some pictures of The Jones Family feast on Christmas Eve. It wasn't disappointing.Just kidding...

Along with the meat, there was sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and some yummy rolls that our previous night's guests had made and left.

I confess, I ate all that you see on this plate!

My son gives his approval.

We had these cute name cards in the Christmas box from a previous year and I had forgotten about them. They added something special to the table.

We simply had to have the casserole that my mom always made, Sausage Soufle. This year we only accompanied it with homemade applesauce, but it was still very good. I didn't manage to get the time to bake something sweet to go with it.

Some dear friends from Oregon sent us some wonderful hot chocolate from Williams-Sonoma and Peppermint sticks dipped in chocolate for stirring. That was extra fun for our Christmas breakfast.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, with love

Amelia and Cecily are looking and feeling festive. :-)

Feasting with great pleasure

This well known painting is one of Norman Rockwell's. It is one of four he painted to depict the four freedoms spoken of in a speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt, and portrays our freedom from want in America. One of the most special things about celebrating holidays is the preparation, serving and eating of good food, as shown in the painting...along with enjoying it with family and friends.

Today I want to give thanks for the abundant food GOD has provided and list the various menu's I have planned for our holiday this year. (I will be cooking most all day today and preparing) We will be hosting company for the next few days and this is what I have planned for our holiday feasting...

Christmas Eve dinner

Prime Rib Roast

Creamy potato casserole

7 Layer Salad

Fluffy Rolls

Christmas cookies and candy for snacking later

Christmas Breakfast

Pecan Tea Ring (Recipe courtesy of my good friend Nancy)

Sausage Souffle

Homemade Applesauce

Christmas Day Dinner

Baked Ham

Whipped Sweet Potatoes with apples

Fluffy Rolls

Creamed Peas

Peppermint Torte for dessert

Christmas evening we will be enjoying ham sandwiches and leftovers...with snacks we have made up. It is always good to remember and help those who have so much less...but it is also good to enjoy with pleasure what God has given.

Julie and her family have eaten a good Christmas feast with company yesterday...and she planned the following menu:

Creamy Chicken Pasta

Caesar Salad


Individual Rice Puddings for dessert along with Christmas cookies

Today on Christmas eve they will be preparing and feasting on a full turkey dinner with the trimmings and enjoying the left-overs tomorrow on Christmas Day. (I can hardly believe I am writing that tomorrow is Christmas Day and that it is already here).

God has so richly blessed us as a family, and we want to celebrate Him in all we do and eat for the next couple of days. May God grant a special time of family and friends, and a rich holiday honoring Him and His amazing gift of so great a salvation.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Historical Revision

I found the original poem today for "Christmas Bells" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The words of this poem are the lyrics to the Christmas carol "I heard the bells on Christmas Day" least some of the words. I have long loved this particular carol, but was surprised to read the words in the poem that were left out of the carol. The left out lines explained why the author bowed his head in despair. I am going to write out the poem here for you to enjoy...
"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat,
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song,
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till, ringing, swinging on its way,
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South
And with the sound the carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn the households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed by head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong and mocks the song,
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep,
"God is not dead; nor doth He sleep!
The Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"
Henry Longfellow wrote this poem on Christmas Day, 1864 before the end of the Civil War. His oldest son Charles had been severely wounded in the War the year before. Longfellow was a New England Yankee, born and raised in Maine and living in Massachusetts when he wrote this poem. It is a beautiful expression of ultimate hope in God's goodness. It was not politically correct to mention the Civil War after the war was over, or to place the blame on the South, so two stanzas were omitted when the poem was made into a carol. In 1872 the remaining 5 stanzas were slightly rearranged and John Baptiste Calkin set the poem to the tune we now know.
When the two stanzas were left out, the poem was changed to someone else's ideas of correctness, and that changed the original intent of the words...historical revisionism. I have seen too many examples lately of historical revisionism concerning the original words of our founding fathers, and original documents concerning our government and higher institutions of learning. It's astonishing at how things have been changed and wording left out of documents to fit someone else's ideas and agenda. Historical revisionism is not a new concept, but I am dismayed as I see the extent of it, and how our colleges teach revised history with God left out, and the students like sheep know no better. I was one of them.
We must learn to know the truth and graciously point out the difference and be ready to defend historical veracity. I'll start with showing the original words to this lovely poem.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

These light afflictions

I was listening to a new CD from Jamie Soles and was struck by the chorus of the title song. The words are taken from 2 Corinthians 4:7-18. The chorus is as follows:
So we do not lose heart
Even though our outer man is melting like the dew
Yet our inner man is new
All these light afflictions are only for a time
And they work for us a greater weight
A greater weight of glory all the time
I found this to be very encouraging and in a small way made me think of you, Mom, with some of your current physical afflictions.
Reading through the Corinthians passage makes you realize that nothing we're going through compares to what Paul is talking about. I recently watched The Hiding Place with my children, explaining to them as we went, all about the holocaust and the concentration camps. In the movie, Corrie Ten Boom and her sister are confronted by others about believing in a God who would allow the kind of suffering that they are enduring. In the end, I felt that the message from the movie in answering that accusation was a little weak. This passage in 2 Corinthians and others are encouraging and I believe the bottom line is that "nothing can harm me that won't turn out for good" (from another Jamie Soles song, This Confidence In Me). I wanted to include a link to hear the song, but Mr. Soles' website isn't working for some reason. But I will include the web address because there is no one's music I would more highly recommend, as it is all taken directly from scripture and has helped myself and my children memorize a lot of God's Word through learning the songs. His website is

Saturday, December 20, 2008

*lovely* video

One of the blogs that is in our blog roll posted a *lovely* video that is worth the 3 minutes to watch. :-). This link will take you there.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas's Past

This image was emailed to me and I liked the colors and feel of vintage Christmas. Our roads and walkways look very snowy right now, much like this picture. I have been thinking of Christmas in the old days, and will be posting several photos from Christmas's we have experienced in our lives.

This is a photo of me on Christmas morning, 1952. This was the year I got my first doll, and received another doll each Christmas for many years. She came complete with a doll buggy (we didn't call them strollers back then.) That was an exceptionally large tricycle, and I rode it until I was past 5 years old. They don't make 'em like that anymore....The tree looks mighty skimpy and I have no idea where my parents got it. We lived in Seattle, they were poor etc. But the decorations are beautiful, and many are still hanging on my tree today, labeled 'great vintage ornaments'. The days of real tinsel made a tree so lovely...and my Mom hung each piece individually. What patience!

This is Christmas morning a year later. We added a home-made doll, a doll bed my Uncle Harold made and a mattress, mattress pad, pillow, pillowcase and quilt my Aunt Nuna made. That is my first stocking hanging from the miniature ironing board (I guess little girls liked to pretend to iron then along with their mommies). It came complete with a bitty iron. I still have the stocking, but it is threadbare these days. One big difference it shows up is how small and skinny it is. You can't get very much into that stocking, and that's the way it was back then. You just got a couple of items, and maybe an orange. Now days it's the bigger the better....and stockings are huge. I also received that small stove with teapot and coffeepot...I remember hours of fun with that. I sure look pleased with my new bathrobe don't I?
One thing that the pictures don't show is the creche my Mom always put up. I still have it as well, and it is just a very thin stable with glued on animals, Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus. The bottom says Woolworth...and 'made in Japan'. It may not have been of much worth monetarily, but my parents always showed my brother and I the true meaning of Christmas. The presents shown in the photos were fun, and I'm sure my parents had great fun giving them to me as I was their only child in these years. But they gave me something of infinite worth when they gave me the knowledge of how much God loved me, and how God sent His son...I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was 4 (a year later than these photos) with my Mom in my bedroom. A remarkable calling of God upon my life...the best present I have ever received.

Cleaning...where nobody sees

Well, if you know me, you know that cleaning has never been one of my stronger abilities. The older I get, the better I get at it. I do like things to look nice, so picking up is something I do a lot of. But when it comes to cleaning the places that nobody really sees...I confess I rarely do it. Now, this is probably human nature and common to everyone and yet I think some people are better "cleaners" than others. SO...I cleaned behind my fridge. (I'm patting my own back so hard, you can hear it). I'm not sure what inspired this out-of-character act, but boy, did it feel good. Cleaning does feel amazingly good. And I must add that one cannot deep clean these "invisible" places without thinking of the cleaning that is needed in one's soul in the places that nobody sees. In short, I highly recommend this little ritual. How does it get so dirty back there?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Music of Christmas

I love the music of makes me worship every day in a different way than the rest of the year. There are so many ways to enjoy the music. Caroling, or singing carols in a group of people...playing a Christmas hymn or carol on an instrument. For me that is playing songs on the piano...and every year I pick out 2 or 3 different piano arrangements to practice and enjoy. This year it is: I Saw Three Ships arranged with Haydn's Allegro in F Major and Hark, the Herald Angels Sing arranged with Handel's Largo. Both are beautiful and I am greatly enriched by the playing and hearing of these. I always enjoy playing and singing our old favorite sheet music titles with the family too.

We always enjoy the music of Christmas to listen to: on the radio, in stores, on the CD or tape player, or at Church. I especially love the vintage recordings to listen to.
This year my insurance man, our daughter JoAnn and I have been practising and singing in our Church choir. I have not sung in choir for many years, and this has brought a special joy to the season. I have always loved choir music, either to play or to sing...and this year is no exception. We are doing a selection of 5 individual songs...and my favorite is 'Immanuel' by Paula Stefanovich. Some of the words are: "Immanuel...Immanuel, sons come worship and daughters sing. Immanuel...Immanuel, a virgin bears a King." Our daughter JoAnn has a beautiful voice and it is a rare privilege to stand next to her while we practise and sing.
Yes, the music of Christmas is the music of the Christian Church worshipping their Savior's birth....enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Picture Postcard Winters Day

This is what it looks like out one of our windows. It was just a perfect day. It is cold and dry (around 3 degrees) but it snowed lightly all day and provided beautiful scenes. I worked on the last of my Christmas greetings, babysat because there was no school, built Tinkertoy designs and enjoyed the fact that we will definitely have a white Christmas this year.
Our garden bench will only have birds and squirrels on it for the next few months...

and our beautiful junipers and pines are arrayed in their winters decoration. I love the sights, colors and peace of winter.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Enjoying the decorating...

I'm never quite sure how I'm going to decorate the house each year, and I usually just go with my creative flow right then. After all is put up and we can then enjoy it for the rest of the season, it seems so cozy and festive and so worth the effort. I especially love the candlelight and firelight of winter evenings and snapped a couple of photos to remember this years decorations.
This is the same scene in daylight. It's nice too, but the candlelight just isn't the same. Our living room provides a warm spot to sit and think about Jesus...his birth, life, redemptive work, death and resurrection. During this arctic cold snap a fireplace is one of the blessings of our life.
"The dinner was served up in the great hall, where the squire always held his Christmas banquet. A blazing, crackling fire of logs had been heaped on to warm the spacious apartment, and the flame went sparkling and wreathing up the wide-mouthed chimney."
Washington Irving , "The Christmas Dinner"

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Typical Saturday Morning....Lucky Me!

Most every Saturday morning is my insurance man's cooking time. He likes to cook and likes to eat breakfast food. I help out with the 'extra's'...
This morning it was a stack of whole grain pancakes, sausage patties and a fried egg, with hot chocolate. (Did I mention he likes a hearty breakfast?) This morning felt more like a holiday because he had Christmas music playing and we had new fallen snow outside with the sun shimmering on it. A great way to start the day!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Reading

Now that I'm kind-of down for the rest of the holiday season, I am hoping to read some of the great Christmas books I have collected over the years. The two above are fun and separated into short bits, perfect for a moment or two during busy days. The Christmas Treasury is a collection of 50 Yuletide stories and poems. I have found some treasures in there. Some of the authors included are: Charles Dickens, O. Henry, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, F. Van Wyck Mason, Odgen Nash, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Hans Christian Andersen and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Currently I am reading (and thoroughly enjoying) 'The Christmas Dinner' by Washington Irving. The blue book above is a collection of the stories behind the Christmas carols...who wrote them and when etc.
This little gem was in a library discard pile. It is a leather bound copy of this classic in a very Christmasy red.
My copy was published in London in the 1800's with the original hand-colored illustrations by John Leech. Dickens financed this book himself, due to conflicts with his publisher, and ordered it with lavish red binding and gilt edged leaves. He then proceeded to sell it for only 5 shillings so everyone could afford it. Mine has the gilt on three sides of the leaves, but it is mostly worn off now. My copy was published by Bradbury and Evans, Publishers, Whitebriars, London.

On the flyleaf is one of 4 of the hand colored illustrations, and the credits.
Mr. Dickens wrote the following preface:
"I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it. Their faithful Friend and Servant, C.D." December, 1843

No one has wished to lay it, and it continues 150+ years later to haunt our houses quite pleasantly. Our granddaughter Kory was a very beautiful 'Ghost of Christmas Past' this week in yet another rendition of this favorite tale.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My New Companion

I went to the foot Dr. today and came home wearing is now my companion for 6 weeks. I wish I could say that I had a skiing accident or something else kind of cool, but no such luck. My bunions have caused joint damage to some of my toes, resulting in inflammation and pain. So I need some therapy, icing of the joint, straps to bring the toes back into place and this beautiful new accessory.
In thinking through this sudden turn of events I could say that the timing was rather poor. However, I choose to think of it as God saying that it was time I slowed down for a bit. Instead of my usual decorating and baking I will now have my Christmas cards written, addressed and sent out in time. I will GET to watch Christmas movies and read my Bible. I will GET to finish up my crocheting project and relax before the fire and Christmas tree (glad it's up and decorated). I will GET to have my husband help me out for a while. I will GET to spend time reflecting on the birth of Jesus Christ and what that means to me personally and to all the world.
It's looking more and more like a gift instead of a hindrance.
Thank you Father.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Favorite Apron #2

A few weeks ago I posted about my favorite cooking apron passed down from my Mom. This is my 2nd favorite, and I get it out right after Thanksgiving to use for my Christmas baking and cooking. In 1989 I was fortunate enough to go on a trip with my parents to England and Scotland. My Dad's family is from England and my Mom's originally from Scotland. She is from the clan Erskine, and I found this apron in the Erskine formal tartan. (The casual tartan is in a black and white) Since it is a lovely red and green, I decided to keep it for Christmas. It is only a half apron tied at the waist, but is made from the nicest wool blend. So far, after using it these many years, I have never needed to wash it, only spot cleaned it. On the pocket it says "Frae Scotland', with a bit of the celtic there. The flower is the national flower of Scotland, the thistle, with a purple bloom. It is not only a great apron, but a wonderful memory as well.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Antique Booth Finds

While we were gone for Thanksgiving week-end, our shopping consisted of visiting the town of Snohomish, Washington. They were all decked out for Christmas and we had fun visiting a few Christmas stores and a large antique mall. I found these beautiful pillowslips in one of the antique mall booths.

I have certain criteria for choosing pillowslips: they have to have that soft cotton feel of age, they have to have embroidery AND crocheted edging, and be of a pleasing color (to me) which is usually white edging and an embroidery pattern where the colors match the motif. In the case of two of the above pillowcases the embroidery is leaves and the colors are beautiful for fall. An added bonus, one rarely found, is that there were two matching slips. I had to search through several piles before finding the mate...but what a treasure!

The other slip I purchased was only a single, the 'Mrs' was there but the 'Mr' was missing....hmm. Probably worn out... It is a very soft cotton, with cute baskets, lavender flowers and ribbons and a variegated lavender/purple crocheted edging. Since my favorite color is purple and variations thereof, the colored edging was acceptable to me. I have one other set of slips where the edging is a variegated pink, but it matches nicely with the embroidery.
These lovely pillowslips are so much cheaper than the modern varieties sported in the big box stores and these were even an additional 20% off. There is something very comforting to me in putting my head on a soft beautiful pillow at night.

I found two other items in the antique is a Christmas present (shh) for someone special, and the other was this little 1950's bed for my doll house. Not that it is MY dollhouse you understand, but I confess to loving putting the furniture and people away after my granddaughters and visitors have had fun with it. Lately the parents bed had broken beyond repair, and here was a perfect substitute for under a $1.

This was my happy version of holiday shopping!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My All-time Favorite Vinaigrette

I have been making a lot of salads lately, and made up my favorite salad dressing yesterday. It's called Vermont Country Salad Dressing, and I got the recipe a few years ago from my good friend Nancy. It's just scrumptious, and makes a good salad even better. Here is the recipe, and it is so simple!

3 T. (real) maple syrup
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1 t. dijon mustard (or regular works too)
1/2 c. good oil (I use safflower)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper, freshly ground is best
1 t. minced garlic
Shake all together and serve...that's all there is to it. Soooo much better than store-bought. It is on the sweet side (but I like sweet) so for you folks who like a dressing on the bitter side stick with oil and vinegar. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


The first time to have the whole family together in 2 years. Thankful we were!

2nd Fall

It's been 2 years since we last visited the homeland of my husband, the southern United States of Mississippi and Tennessee. I had forgotten how perfect is this time of year for visiting that area. Here in West Virginia, fall is over. The leaves are gone and snow is here. As we drove south, we saw fall reborn! It was like we went back in time one month. We spent our first night outside of Nashville and the next day drove down the Natchez Trace Parkway to Alabama and then headed west into Mississippi. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of the Natchez Trace. The fall color was outstanding! I did take one picture of a tree at the home of my parents-in-law. The leaves were falling there, but not all gone and there was ivy on everything. Moderate temperatures meant no coats were needed and we enjoyed a week of fall all over again!


At the far end of the lake in Mississippi, there is a hay field. The day after Thanksgiving we took a walk down there and entered into another world....surrounded by hay. When it is as tall as you are, you can get entirely lost!

Running in it is just magnificent!

Some of the hay had been rolled into bales.

running and jumping

A big leap for a 3 year old!