Monday, December 31, 2012

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year to all my wonderful blog readers and friends!
I'm looking forward to another year of reading your blogs and enjoying getting to know you better.

For some of us, 2012 was a relatively uneventful year.
For others, the year brought unhappy surprises, financial difficulty, or sorrow.

We never know what the next year will bring,
But we can trust the One who is the Sovereign Lord of All, 
The only One who gives us Hope and a Future.

'But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run and not be weary
And they shall walk and not faint.'
                     - Isaiah 40:31

'Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.'
                    - Proverbs 3:5-6

May you put your trust in Him who holds the future,
and may you know God's peace in 2013.


Downton Abbey - Inspired, Vegan, Handcrafted Soaps

 Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary
photo from UK Daily Mail

Okay, Downton fans, are you ready? Season Three of Downton Abbey begins next Sunday night. I have no idea why we have to wait several months after the series is aired in the UK, but maybe it's just as well. At least here in NW Wisconsin, it gives us something fun to watch during the longest, coldest months of the year. (Don't get technical on me. Those of us who live in this climate know that February is also one of the longest months of the year.)

The series will resume just as I've planned to start a winter knitting project. Since I've not yet learned to knit well and watch TV at the same time, we'll see what happens. I'm definitely not skipping Downton for a sweater.

Just in time for Season Three of Downton Abbey, we've introduced two new Downton Abbey - inspired handcrafted, vegan soaps:  'Lady Mary' and 'Oh, Matthew!'  Currently, they are only available at our Etsy store, and these are limited edition soaps, so be sure to check them out as soon as possible. And, be sure to let your Downton Abbey-loving friends know about them too! Or better yet, maybe you can surprise them with a gift of a Lady Mary/Oh, Matthew! set.

 Lady Mary

Oh, Matthew!

'Lady Mary' and 'Oh, Matthew!'
are available at

and at

This post may be linked to some of the following: Mop it Up Monday   and Mealtime Monday and   Amaze Me Monday and Clever Chicks Blog Hop and Mosaic Monday  and Barn Charm and  The Marketplace  and On the Menu Monday and  Mix it up Monday and Make it Pretty Monday and  A Return to Loveliness and  What's in the Gunny Sack and  Making the World Cuter Mondays and Make the Scene Monday and  Something I Whipped Up Monday and  Motivate Me Monday and  Making Monday Marvelous and Get Your Craft On and   You're Gonna Love it Tuesday and Take a Look Tuesday and  Tasty Tuesday and Tasty Tuesday and Love Bakes Good Cakes and  Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays  and Overflowing With Creativity and Mom on TimeOut  and Adorned from Above and Cast Party Wednesday and  We Did it Wednesday  and It's a Party at Creative Princess and Artsy Corner Thursday  and I'm Lovin' it Thursday and  Mandatory Mooch   and Foodie Friends Friday and  Serenity Saturday and Get Schooled Saturday  and Inspiration Friday(ThursNite) and Vintage Inspiration Friday and Photo Friday and  A Favorite Thing Saturday and Sunny Simple Sunday and  Saturday Nite Special


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

The Annunciation to the Shepherds
c. 1555 - Oil on Canvas
Samuel H. Kress Collection, National Gallery of Art


I can't stop thinking about the fact that the Good News of the birth of the Savior of the world, that God became human to dwell among us, was first brought to the lowliest - the shepherds.  God did not first send His messengers with the Good News to the highest courts, the rich, and the famous. Angels appeared out of nowhere, to the middle of nowhere - to shepherds, who were understandably terrified at their sudden appearance.

'In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.' - Luke 2:8-11 NASB

Imagine - the angels were telling the shepherds that Jesus' birth was good news for ALL people, including them! '...there has been born for you a Savior...' They were personally being delivered a message of HOPE.

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on'ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky

'...Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. '  - Philippians 2:6-11

 'He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.' - John 1:10-13 NIV

Pondering the amazing grace of God, who sent His one and only Son to rescue us from sin and death and give us a joyful, abundant life.

'Then Jesus again spoke to them saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.' - John 8:12 NASB


Hark! The herald angels sing
'Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled.' 

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace
Hail the Son of righteousness
Light and life to all he brings
Risen with healing in his wings

Mild he lays his glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth

Hark! The herald angels sing
'Glory to the newborn King!  



Monday, December 24, 2012

Christ the Savior is Born!

This morning, at 9 AM CST I will be listening to A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols live from King's College Chapel in Cambridge, England -  on KSJN (Minnesota Public Radio) OR you can listen HERE (WGBH Classical New England). Please join me!

You can even go to the website and print off the program if you like. This is a wonderful Christmas Eve tradition, with the Biblical account of Creation - Fall - Birth of the Promised Redeemer, through Scripture and carols. Don't miss it.

Choirboys entering Kings College Chapel
on a rainy afternoon

Merry Christmas
Christ the Savior reigns!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Reason for the Season

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy  

We've been reading the book, 'God Rest Ye Merry,' by Douglas Wilson. I thought I would insert this short excerpt for us to read and ponder during the Christmas season, reminding us that in spite of our personal financial, familial, or business circumstances, we truly have something worth celebrating!


'In one sense, of course, Jesus is the reason for the season. But in another fundamental sense, sin is the reason for the season. We have not entered into a season of feel-goodism, where we think about soft snow and candlelight, with silver bells in the distance. Remember Ramah weeping for her children, remember our abortion mills, remember how dark this world is without Christ, and then cling in faith to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Mary's only Savior is our only hope for salvation as well.

 Christ on the Cross
by Eugene Delacroix
National Gallery, London

'Second, we need to connect this with strong views of incarnationalism. Not only has Jesus destroyed the overt works of the devil, He has also thrown down the devil's philosophy, which maintains that we are all to be very, very 'spiritual.' But in the face of this false doctrine, God was made flesh. This means that we may build, sew, pick up a knife and fork, make love, spank our kids, shovel the walk and do all to the glory of God. Earthiness is not the gospel, but the gospel did come to earth. Earthiness is no savior, but earthiness is saved.

'And last, we glory in victory: He came to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found. God did not give His Son to die in order to fight against the world with futility. The incarnation was no temporary arrangement. The baby born at Bethlehem was given as the Savior of the world.'

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.  - John 1:14

 God sent not  His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved. - John 3:17

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8 

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. - Isaiah 53:5


'Fear not then,' said the Angel,
'Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan's power and might.'
O Tidings of comfort and Joy  



May you have a wonderful Christmas,
celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ,
Who alone gives us Hope and a Future.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Anglophile Friday - Snow in Yorkshire

 York Minster in a real snowstorm

 More real snow

Notice how it's snowing sideways! It was a very windy day and we were on the top of the Minster, looking down at the town. It was the first time I can remember that I didn't complain about freezing to death. Oh wait. Maybe I did, but just a little.

More real snow - York

Yorkshire/Scottish Blackface Sheep
near Askrigg in the Yorkshire Dales

Yes, what you see above is a shameless attempt to PicMonkey (did you know it's now a verb??) snowflakes and frost onto the photo of my favorite sweet sheep so they could be included.


Buy Five - Get One FREE Sale
on all our handcrafted, vegan soaps
We're extending our sale through December 31.
Don't miss out!

Great for stocking stuffers
and hostess gifts!

Large, handcrafted vegan luxury soaps

...and more! Check out all our handcrafted soaps at


This post linked to
Photo Friday

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wintertime Pasta Comfort Food Recipe

Gluten-free Winter Comfort Food!
aka Hamburger Hotdish

When our daughter and SIL from Texas were here for a couple days, I made this recipe, one of my favorite wintertime meals. It seems it was one of theirs too, which is always nice. Their stay here was cut short by the weather forecast. None of us wanted to be on the road when the storm hit. They arrived in Green Bay just in time for the Great Blizzard of 2012. So even though I try to convince them that they need to move back to Wisconsin (for completely selfless reasons, of course), I'm pretty sure their house in Texas won't be up for sale any time soon.

Hamburger Tomato Pasta Recipe:

Cook 3 c. Tinkyada Penne Pasta according to package directions. Do not overcook. It can go from perfect to mushy in a minute, so be careful and test a noodle now and then as it's close to the recommended time. Drain.

2-3 T. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 pounds 93% lean ground beef
3 ribs celery, sliced fine
1 large onion, diced
1 large sweet red pepper, diced
1 small-med. jalapeno pepper, minced
2 qt. home-canned tomatoes, drained OR a couple 15 oz. cans tomatoes drained and cut up
1 can black olives, drained and sliced
1-1 1/2 cans black beans, drained
1-2 T. chili powder
sea salt
black pepper

Chili Powder recipe:
(Because I used fresh garlic in the main recipe, I did not use garlic powder here)
cumin  2 t.
garlic powder  2 t.
paprika   1 t.
oregano  1 t.
cayenne  1 t.

In a very large skillet, brown ground beef (or ground turkey), garlic, onion, celery, and peppers in olive oil. 

Add drained tomatoes, chili powder, salt and pepper. Bring to temperature. Stir in pasta, black olives and black beans. Bring to temperature.

At this point, this mixture can be scooped into a casserole dish and baked at 350 for a half hour or so...
or just eaten immediately.

Serves appx. 8.


I am hoping to get to your blogs today. Glad I can stay indoors and not be out in the weather! Hope you're staying warm - out of the blizzard!


Buy Five - Get One FREE Sale
on all our handcrafted, vegan soaps

We're extending our sale through December 31.
Don't miss out! Christmas soaps are going fast.

Great for stocking stuffers
and hostess gifts!
Sale at:

Large, handcrafted vegan luxury soaps

...and more! Check out all our handcrafted soaps at



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

DIY Kitchen Hutch - by Joe

My Christmas Present
(just kidding)

Our son, who was married last year, has just finished his first semester in Wood Tech at WITC. He had to choose a project, design, and execute it.  After he got his grade on the hutch, he moved it to their apartment.

I am not easily impressed by new furniture, because so much of it is poorly made with cheap materials. This hutch is an exception. Made of oak and beautifully crafted (if I do say so myself), it is a piece of furniture that Joe and Courtney's children will consider a prized family heirloom. And the drawers are even dove-tailed!! Love that!

We went to see it yesterday, and I had to keep running my hands over the smooth finish. Anyway, to spare you any more bragging by a very impressed mom, I'll move on to something else...


We're taking our daughter and SIL halfway to Green Bay today, where we're meeting Gus's family so that they can spend the next days with them. We had fun putting up the tree, baking Christmas cookies, and just spending time with them.

Spritz Cookies
Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Corn-free, Soy-free

Note about the cookies: I typically bake with Real Wisconsin butter, so they did not taste the same. BUT, when they were baking, our kitchen smelled just like our local bakery - which means that they must use palm oil shortening instead of butter. Personally, I don't mind the gluten-free variety, but if I were making them for me, they would contain butter. There is no substitute. But they did provide a good alternative for our daughter and our son-in-law who have those particular food allergies.


I'm hoping to get some knitting done on the little road trip today. It should keep my mind off the snow storm that is coming to Wisconsin today.

I hope you all have a busy, enjoyable, and productive day!

Buy Five - Get One FREE Sale
on all our handcrafted, vegan soaps

Sale ends midnight, December 19.

We're extending this sale through December 31.
Don't miss out!

Great for stocking stuffers!
Sale at:

Large, handcrafted vegan luxury soaps

...and more! Check out all our handcrafted soaps at


Monday, December 17, 2012

New England Clam Chowder Recipe - for Christmas Eve!

Clam chowder on Christmas Eve has been a tradition at our home for many years. Although our Christmas celebration has changed from the time our kids were little, it is nice to have some things the same, like this great clam chowder. This recipe is one I made from guessing at the ingredients in a clam chowder I enjoyed years ago in Massachusetts.

It seems that this recipe used to require many more steps, but now I've got it fine tuned and pretty easy to make. It's not just for Christmas Eve, so it would make a great New Year's Eve meal also. The Christmas dishes had belonged to my mom.

Don't blame me for the knife and spoon placement.

Judy's Clam Chowder:

10 slices of hickory-smoked bacon, fried crisp, broken into tiny pieces

Hormel® Natural Choice® ham can be substituted for the bacon. It has no preservatives and is 100 percent natural with no artificial colors or flavors, and no added nitrites or nitrates and is gluten free.

4 small potatoes, skin on, diced
3 small carrots, diced

4 ribs of celery, minced
1 med. onion, minced
1 Carmen red pepper or red bell pepper (sweet), diced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced

3-4 cans of clams. Do not drain. If minced, use as is. If chopt, run through food processor first. This is simply a preference. I don't like big, rubbery hunks of clam. Ew!!!Also, I prefer Gorton's brand.

2 quarts of whole milk
3/4 c. flour

1 bay leaf, broken in pieces
1-2 t. thyme (I used 2 t.)
black pepper
sea salt to taste

Open 3-4 cans of clams, pour all (incl. juice) into saucepan. Add potatoes and carrots and cook til they are just tender, not mushy.

In a skillet, saute celery, onion, peppers in a couple T. butter until tender.

In a separate bowl, whisk flour into a couple cups of the milk. Add remaining milk little by little, whisking as you add so there are no lumps.

Pour all (including the liquid from the potato/carrots/clams) into my large Martha Stewart stainless steel pot which doesn't let anything stick on the bottom. Heat on Low, stirring. Add seasonings.

Bring to near boil, but DON'T BOIL. At this point, you can then cool the chowder and keep refrigerated overnight OR (if you're going to eat in a couple hours,) let sit covered, then bring back to temperature and serve.

A great accompaniment to my clam chowder: popovers 

Buy Five - Get One FREE Sale
on all our handcrafted, vegan soaps

Sale ends midnight, December 19.
Great for stocking stuffers!

Large, handcrafted vegan luxury soaps

...and more! Check out all our handcrafted soaps at



Saturday, December 15, 2012

We grieve for the families...

I am horrified and deeply saddened by the events of Friday. I can't stop thinking about and praying for those families who have lost their dear children, and for the responders who came upon an unspeakable scene in a grade school in a quiet little town in America.

I was a kid in the '50s. We played 'cops and robbers,' 'cowboys and Indians.' No, it was not a time of politically correctness. Kids took knives to school and went squirrel hunting with guns after school. People had guns in their homes, either locked away or at least out of reach of children. And children knew those guns were not to be touched by them.

 We never had the kind of violence in the '50s that we see in today's society.

What has changed?

Let me ask this question: How many violent movies have your children seen in the past year? How many violent video games have they played?

I don't know what's going to happen re. gun control, but regardless, I think that we as parents should boycott violent Hollywood movies and violent video games.

I've heard them say before that movies are merely 'reflecting' society, not influencing society. That is hogwash. Money is the bottom line. Hollywood makes movies in order to make money. Do you really think that movie makers are wringing their hands and contemplating how their violent movie may adversely affect the young people who will watch it? No. They are trying to make money.

Last night my husband and I went to see the movie 'Lincoln.' It was excellent. And the theater was filled with old people like us. There was not a teenager in sight. In fact, it is seldom that my husband and I go to see a movie because most of the movies are stupid and violent and geared toward teenagers. Take a look at the movie trailers. The most titillating minutes are usually chosen for the trailer in order to draw in a larger audience.

And please. Do not try to tell me that our children are not influenced by the kind of violence that comes out of Hollywood or by the violent video games on the market.

I'm angry. I'm angry that those children's lives were cut short. I'm angry because those poor parents will never stop grieving the loss of their children.

This post is not a defense of guns. But truly, a gun is an instrument. People are perpetrators. I'm not angry because I think people will use this incident to pass tougher gun control laws, but because at an especially vulnerable time, the American people will be fooled into thinking that guns are the problem.


When the photo of my brothers and cousin was taken, most people in America believed that there was a God to whom they were ultimately responsible. Now a generation at least has been taught that there is no God and that we are just fine without Him. We go our merry, selfish way and kill the unborn by over a million a year. We have become a Godless, violent society.

I'm reminded of the Bible verse, 'If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked way, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.'


Friday, December 14, 2012

Anglophile Friday - Along the Thames - London - Quiz

A -  Palace of Westminster 

As you can see, I'm getting this post up later than usual. When I scheduled it last night before going to bed, I forgot to change the time schedule on it. Anyway, there is so little text with it that it kinda feels like cheating. Then again, I think: Which would they rather see - more rambling from Judy or photos of London? Easy choice in my book. So, here are a few photos taken along the River Thames. I hope you'll enjoy them. And there is a reason why they have letters in front of the captions. You'll see at the end of the post.

B - Blackfriar's Bridge

 C - Old Blackfriar's Bridge Pillars


 E - Traitor's Gate, Tower of London

 F - Charing Cross Station

 G - Greater London Authority
City Hall

 H - The Eye
And County Hall

 I - The Globe Theatre

 J - The Prospect of Whitby Pub

 K - Tate Modern
and Millennium Bridge

 L - Tower Bridge

 M - Cruise Boat,
Millennium Dawn

N - ?

Feel free to try to put these in order - west to east or east to west. Any takers on this project? And yes, there's a bend in the river, so part of it will be north to south or south to north.  Is everyone totally confused now?

I hope everyone has a great weekend!


Buy Five - Get One FREE


Large, handcrafted vegan luxury soaps

...and more! Check out all our handcrafted soaps at



Related Posts with Thumbnails