Wednesday, December 3, 2014

This Christmas, be more kind, not more commercial


I feel, like many others, that every Christmas season, the world floats farther and farther away from remembering our Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the whole reason we celebrate Christmas. After all, the word CHRISTMAS literally means "Christ's Day", the day He was born. Giving gifts at Christmas is a beautiful tradition, if given with love and thought, but this practice has lost it's meaning in the increasing commercialism of the world, the drive for stores to make money, and the perception that we must give everyone (especially our kids) everything on their "wish" list, even when our budgets may not allow it. We are afraid that if our kids don't get "enough" presents, they'll think it wasn't a good Christmas. But therein lies the fallacy. We have programmed ourselves, and those around us, to think that Christmas is about Santa, toys, lots of presents, and candy (which are fun, but are practiced with an overabundance that's often more damaging than we realize).

We need to get back to the simple and humble realization that it's a birthday party for the Lord. And what should we do for His birthday? Well, what do we do for anyone else's birthday: We give gifts, just as the wise men gave the Christ-child so long ago. So what kind of gifts can we give to Jesus Christ? His own words teach us that in serving OTHERS, we serve Him. We can give material things for sure, if they are truly needed and not overdone, but more importantly, we can give love, understanding, kindness, patience, attention, respect, and our TIME. May we reevaluate our holiday practices and improve them where needed (myself included), so that when Christmas time comes around, we may remember that it is about Christ's birth and the way He taught us to live and serve others that brings the true meaning of the season. 

Here are the wonderful and wise words of Dr. Seuss, from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," one of my favorite books:
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, was singing! Without any presents at all! He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME! Somehow or other, it came just the same! And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so? It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!" And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas . . . perhaps . . . means a little bit more!"

Here are some short videos that stress a more meaningful holiday season (They are great videos to show your children the night before, or the day of, Christmas, to help keep the spirit of it :)
The Nativity (7:52)

I hope this holiday season brings you true happiness and joy!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

THE LAST GOODBYE - Tribute to LOTR and THE HOBBIT coming to a close


"The Last Goodbye," a beautiful song sung by actor Billy Boyd (who played "Pippin" in The Lord of the Rings trilogy), is a tribute to all the Tolkien films by director Peter Jackson as they come to a close. What a journey for The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and for all those who were in the films or contributed in some way to make them the awesome movies they are. Have a listen and watch the cool video on Peter Jackson's official Facebook site or on Youtube. I love it! Below are the links.

Peter Jackson's Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152783652041558&fref=nf

Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8ir8rVl2Z4


Monday, November 10, 2014

Really Good Recipe: Soft and Chewy Gingersnaps

Photo Credit: http://lecremedelacrumb.com/2013/11/soft-chewy-gingersnaps.html
SOFT & CHEWY GINGERSNAPS

1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup butter (1½ sticks)
¾ cup molasses
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
3½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ cup sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl cream together brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg and vanilla and mix well. In another bowl combine flour, baking soda, ginger, salt, cinnamon, and cloves and whisk to combine. Gradually mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients, 1 cup at a time. When flour mixture is completely incorporated and dough comes together, cover dough and chill 10 minutes. Place ¼ cup sugar in a small bowl. Roll about two tablespoons of dough into a ball and roll in sugar. Place dough ball onto a lightly greased baking sheet and lightly press to flatten slightly. Repeat with remaining dough, leaving about 2 inches between balls for spreading. Bake 9-10 minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Use a thin metal spatula to remove cookies from chest and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Store in airtight container.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Our Halloween Haunted Hollow


We finally had a large enough parcel of land to have fun with a haunted hollow this Halloween. Thanks to the local thrift store, dollar store, donated items from family members, and my husband bringing home free cardboard and styrofoam from work, we were able to create things for our spook alley rather cheaply. Using every bit of rope we owned, he made a pathway that wound through our property, resulting in a good 15 minute walk complete with jack-o-lanterns, creepy lighting, spooky sounds on giant speakers borrowed from his brother, scarecrows, witch cauldron with dry ice, fortune teller booth (with fortune cookies), a headless horseman, werewolf, fake spider webs, a giant spider made of plastic bags, a pacman scene, and gravestones with witty quotes and names on them (some we made up, others we found online). Here are some pictures of our hollow. They were taken during the day, so they don't look very spooky, but at night with all the lighting and sounds, they turned out great. It was successful enough that we may attempt to do it again next year. AANNDD, not wanting anyone to feel left out for not knowing about it, I need to explain that this being the first year we did it, we used only four families as Guinea pigs to try it out. Next year we'll tell more people about it.












The styrofoam gravestones were knocked down by the windy afternoon at the time I took the pictures, but the evening was great after we set them up again. 




















I originally put "Here lies the Pillsbury Dough Boy - Died of a yeast infection," but my husband prefered "He will rise again." I still like mine better *smile*










Friday, October 10, 2014

Citadels of Fire by L.K. Hill - book review


The first chapter in Liesel K. Hill’s CITADELS OF FIRE, the first book in her Kremlins trilogy, sets the tone for much of the book. From the beginning, it brought tears to my eyes over the treatment of a 6-year-old girl (I have a 6-year-old of my own, so that’s what made reading it so hard) who would become the heroine of the story.

The tale follows the humble life of the servant Inga at the Russian palace, the Kremlin, and her atypical relationship with a court aristocrat (a boyar), Taras. Being of mixed English and Russian blood, Taras isn't the archetypal Russian aristocrat, but every bit a hero in the way he treats woman and servants with respect as human beings, something largely unheeded during that time. This allows a relationship between Inga and Taras to bud and thrive within the royal walls.

Having studied Russian history in college, Ms. Hill intertwines historical facts as pertaining to the historical figures in the book. She describes the events that took place during that time in Russia under the reign of the young tsar, Ivan the Terrible. Her imageries are ideally portrayed, taking the reader into the very heart of the Kremlin and the city beyond its walls. It’s a riveting story of the cruelties, triumphs, failures, hopes, and despairs of all classes of people, but most of all, it’s a tale of the miracle of love that emerges between two contrary sources: A lowly servant and an aristocrat.

READERS NOTE: There is no bad language, but brutal images of court life, war, natural disasters, and the injustices that occurred between people of differing social status, are vivid and may be too much for a sensitive reader. There’s a lot of blood and beatings, some animal and human torture and a few instances of rape.

Citadels of Fire can be found here:

Liesel K. Hill can be found here:




Other Books by Liesel K. Hill: