Saturday, December 28, 2013

Taking a Short Break, Again

We had a great four days with our daughter from Texas when she came to visit last week. It was wonderful to have that time with her. She and our two youngest sons indulged my wish to try out the  new Christmas crackers, sent to me by Samantha from ''

Beautiful Christmas Crackers

Thank you, Samantha. We had so much fun, as you can see from the collage above!
It was our very first Christmas Crackers experience.

 Our granddaughter and her boyfriend
and K&Me

Last Sunday we attended A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols with our granddaughter and her friend after meeting at Brit's Pub in Minneapolis for lunch. 

Carolers at Brit's Pub, Minneapolis

 at St. Mark's Cathedral, Minneapolis
(probably deserving of an entire post, for I took a lot of photos - 
all before the service began)

So why another break??

I want you to know that you might not recognize me after next Monday, the 30th. I'll be wearing a new hip. Just want to say, don't get too close to me with a strong magnet.

(I've seen it, and it looks just like this)
photo from

Please pray that my surgical team has a happy and restful weekend, 
and shows up Monday morning refreshed, focused, and alert!

Have a great weekend, friends.
See you in about a week.


Fragrant Lemongrass & Eucalyptus
All Natural, Handcrafted Vegan Soap

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


and at

Our Etsy Shop 

NOTE:  My Shops will be closed from
December 27 - January 5 


P.S.    Re. 'No-Reply Blogger' and 'Google+'

I would love to respond to each of you, but I'm not able to reply to 'no-reply' bloggers. Also, for some reason, when I try to respond to those who have Google+, Google won't let me past their Google+ signup page (and I refuse to join - for  many reasons.) So, please, friends, consider enabling your email so everyone can respond to the lovely comments you leave on our blogs. And, if there's some way around Google+'s  annoying persistence that I join, please let me know about it.

A couple dog pics

I came across this old photo of Bridger and Misty from some bygone winter. It made me laugh, for he always wanted to play with her, but she wouldn't play. Here, he's got his mouth around her middle. He was a huge dog with a huge mouth. She would tolerate it for a few seconds and then snap at him. Poor Misty. All she wanted was a little peace and quiet. :-)

Poor Bridger. All he wanted was someone to play with.

Misty 2003
(for you, Deb)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Day Snow in NW Wisconsin

I hope you too had a wonderful and white Christmas!


'Honey Oatmeal'
All Natural, Handcrafted Vegan Soap

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

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

From our house to yours...
From NW Wisconsin,

Where it's always winter,

May you have a blessed Christmas as we celebrate the birth of HOPE for a fallen world, the promised Redeemer, Jesus Christ our Lord!

And to you, dear friends,

'I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of  wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.'
                                                                    Ephesians 1:16-23

Merry, merry Christmas!

 Christmas Eve with 
our son and his wife


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!

Angels with flocked capes
These had belonged to my mom

Merry Christmas Eve Day!

I'm sorry I've been so absent, but I did bring a written excuse from my mother.

First, the tale of my techno woes. Last Friday my cell phone died, or at least wouldn't hold a charge and the phone place doesn't carry my phone any longer. At least they didn't point and laugh at me. But I did come away from there with a much larger, much more complicated phone than what I had gone in with. I know I'll learn it - eventually. The best thing about it is that when I get e-photos of the grandkids, I will actually be able to see what they are, rather than viewing a thumbnail.

THEN, my printer stopped working. No idea what was wrong. So I phoned HP to talk with tech support. After about 15 minutes on the phone with them, they took over my computer and I watched my cursor dart back and forth across the screen for a few minutes.

The guy came back with, 'You have no printer drivers installed on your computer, and several of your files are corrupted.' He said I'd have to get a certified systems engineer to fix the problem. (I guess I thought that was him, right?) Anyway, I told him I'd get our local computer geek to look at it and thank you very much. THEN he said that only certified systems engineer can do this because, and get this, 'We have very expensive equipment to help us fix the problem.' I thanked him and said no.

Avon angels

Then I took the computer to the local computer geek (and I do mean geek. He is insanely smart about computers!)  He looked things over and said my files were not corrupted and all my printer drivers were there. He said I'd been SCAMMED. No! Me??! I couldn't believe it. I was so annoyed, and very glad I hadn't told them they could 'fix' my computer with all their expensive equipment (sounds ominous, doesn't it!)

As it turned out, all that was wrong with my computer was that the USB port that I plugged the printer into was iffy. The printer had always worked, but suddenly it didn't. Evidently it was that crazy port. So after four days of not communicating with any of you, my blogger friends, I did want you to know why you haven't heard from me.

More of Mom's angels. They are bells.
except for the middle one who came from...
Yes, from Bobby! :-)

And now, onto the real subject of this post, the hymn 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!'  If you tune into Minnesota Public Radio this morning at 9 CST, you will hear a live performance of The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England. It is their Christmas Eve service which begins (in England) at 3 PM in the afternoon. I listen to it by radio every single Christmas Eve morning here in Wisconsin. Check it out on Minnesota Public Radio.


'...the festival has its origins not in Cambridge, but the English city of Truro, where it first saw the light of day in 1880. (note: I wonder if Doc Martin knows this.)

'There have been important changes over the years, but some of the documents describing that first festival have survived. Tomorrow, Dec. 17, the Truro Cathedral will recreate that 1880 event (to the extent possible), Victorian hymns and all. Here's an article in the Guardian that has the details.'  (obviously we're too late for Dec. 17, but we could still read the article. And I'm hoping to find the recording online somewhere.)

I realize that I'm getting far afield from the topic of this blog post, but hang on. The connection is that although some choral selections change from year to year in the Festival's program, the thrilling procession is always marked by 'Once in Royal David's City' and the last hymn is a resounding 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!' - sung by the choir and the congregation, just before the recessional. Both selections have a beautiful descant on the last verse. I love it. It's always a little sad when it's over.

And if you happen to miss listening to this year's Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Minnesota Public Radio, you can pick up the 2010 version at this link on YouTube One way or another, I hope you will enjoy this wonderful event as much as I do.

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n 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!"


Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Special, All Creatures Great & Small - Anglophile Friday

James Herriot and Helen
played by
Christopher Timothy and Helen Drinkwater

Photo via

When All Creatures Great & Small was on PBS in the 1980s, I looked forward to Sunday evenings when I'd make a cup of cocoa and get it ready just in time to sit down and hear that cheerful opening tune of 'All Creatures.' That, of course, is where my love of Yorkshire began.

The TV series was based on the books by 'James Herriot' (Alf Wight), who began his veterinary practice in c. 1940 in the Yorkshire Dales and Moors, working out of 23 Kirkgate in the town of Thirsk.

From YouTube, my very favorite episode of All Creatures Great & Small
(or at least one of my favorite. I loved so many of them!)
It's one of the Christmas specials, the one with
the REAL Helen.

From left to right: Robert Hardy (Sigfried) has a long, long list of movies to his credit, including Sherlock Holmes, Foyle's War, and Inspector Morse. Christopher Timothy dropped off my radar until I saw him in an old mystery movie.  Margaretta Scott (Mrs. Pomfrey) turned up in a Dorothy L. Sayers' movie as Lord Peter's mother, and Peter Davison (Tristan) was Dr. Who and Campion, among his many credits (and some discredits, I think, like Distant Shores.)  

I don't know how anyone can grow up in Yorkshire and ever move away.
Photo via

 The Dispensary
Now part of the World of James Herriot museum
at 23 Kirkgate, Thirsk

 The Kitchen
Now part of The World of James Herriot museum

So this evening, go make yourself a cup of cocoa and enjoy the above YouTube video, which will take you to that wonderful world of All Creatures Great & Small set in the 1940s Yorkshire. You won't be sorry.

This post was written earlier in the week and scheduled to publish. I will be away from the computer today to spend time with my daughter who is visiting from Texas. Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for stopping in!

See you next week. 


'Midnight Jasmine'
Natural, Handcrafted Vegan Soap

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

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cloud Watcher

I'm not the only one who likes to watch the clouds.

December 17, 2013

Have a great Thursday!

I will be away from the computer today to spend time with my daughter who is visiting from Texas. Have a wonderful day!

Christmas Gift Set
Special Price
Limited Number - Hurry!

Christmas Soaps
Gift Set of 6 large 4.5+ oz. bars
Only $26.25

Make great stocking stuffers!
Natural, Handcrafted and Handcut Vegan Soaps
This set is available only at


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

More Backyard Scenes, Pre-Winter

 Flowering Crab

Tuesday night:

I'm scheduling this post because I won't be here tomorrow. We're going to be picking up our Texas daughter from the airport to spend a few days with us. Although I wish the kids lived closer, at least we see them a few times a year. It could be worse. They have no more desire to move back to Wisconsin than we do to move to Texas, so I guess the remedy is to travel. It's definitely worth it.

I have no idea why I'm writing this post. I should be in bed instead. It's been one of those days when all the things I tried to get done sort of failed in the execution, but took a lot of effort and time doing so, and now I'm too tired to do anything else but sit here and go through my photos. I feel too tired to get up and go to bed, and one photo leads to another...

And while I'm on that topic (the photos), let me say that it's really worth spending the $60/year to get Carbonite online backup (no they didn't ask or pay me to write this, but it would be nice if they sent me a couple Ritter Sport Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut bars for giving them this plug!)  My old laptop did crash, and if it hadn't been for Carbonite, I'd have lost everything. It was EASY to retrieve all my files once I had my new laptop. EASY. So, anyway, since that experience, I am probably paranoid about losing my photos, so they're backed up by an external hard drive also. 

Cattle-less Barn

For what it's worth, here's how I organize them. (Not that anyone cares, but like I said, I'm too tired to go to bed.) When I take a group of photos, I immediately upload them to my computer and put them in a folder that is named for the month in which they are taken. That means I have a folder named October 2013, one named November 2013, one named December 2013, etc. So all the original photos are in the 'monthly' folders. When I edit a photo, I then save it with some particular name (trying to think of what I would call it if I were looking for it!!! - not always easy, believe me.)

 Frosted Spruce

I used to save edited photos by topic, so that I still have a  folder named, 'Barns,' one named 'Pets,' etc.etc. But it occurred to me one day that since I have a really good search tool in Windows 7, I can edit a photo, give it its particular name, and save it (along with the original) in the monthly folder. That way, when I download them to my external hard drive, I only need to download the newest monthly folder. All my originals for that month and the edited versions are in that folder. I do that late in the day on the last day of the month.

 For example, if I took a photo of Misty in December, the edited version might have a name like, 'Misty with blankie December 2013) I include the name of the month so that if I ever want to find the original, I can easily see that it's in the December 2013 folder. So now all the photos I take in December, including the edited versions, will go into the December 2013 folder. Then, at the end of each month, I drag out the external hard drive and download only that monthly folder (because it has both the originals and the edited versions) into it - and I'm current. That makes it a lot easier than having to download every 'topic' folder that might (or might not) have a newly edited photo in it.

 'Closed for the Season'

So now, when I want a photo of a barn, I can go to my main 'Pictures' file and search for the word 'barn.' Every photo - in any folder-  that's got the word 'barn' in the file name, will show up. Also, that file name will tell me in which month folder I can also find the original.

 Sunset Behind the Barn

The only problem is that with a photo like the one above, I might have it named 'sunset barn silo winter December 2013.' But at least I find it. On the other hand, because I didn't include the word 'birdfeeder,' I'll never find that again, unless by accident. And I don't need to include the word 'snow,' because I'd say that there's more than a 50/50 chance that the photo will include snow. After all, this is Wisconsin.

 Sunset Behind the Barn b

 Early Sunset Reflections

Early Sunset Reflections b

I think this photo perusing, editing and saving can quickly become a compulsive behavior!
What do you think? And do you have your photos backed up?

Have a great Wednesday!


 'All-Natural Defense'

Handcrafted Natural Soap with 4 Essential Oils
that are known to have some antibacterial
and anti-fungal properties.
No Triclosan

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

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

English Toffee Recipe, Easy, Favorite Christmas Candy

This rectangular Tupperware box was almost half full.
Just look what 2 sticks of butter and a cup of sugar can make!

I posted this recipe a couple years ago, but thought you might not mind getting a refresher. After all, it easy, delicious, and an all-time favorite. What could be better than that! In fact, you might want to make two batches - and with this recipe, making two separate batches works much better than trying to make one double batch. Take my word for it.

Okay, I'd like a show of hands here: How many of you have been keeping this a secret from me these oh-so-many years?? If I'd known then what I know now, I would never have bought a Heath Bar, a Skor bar, or a piece of English Toffee.  Ever. This is simple.

When I did the Google Search for English Toffee, the entry that caught my eye was Cooking For Engineers. What??! So of course I clicked on that one. What I found next, as I scrolled down past all the usual wordy, imagey stuff, was this CHART which showed at a glance exactly what I needed, what I needed to do, and when I needed to do it. LOVE THIS. Just the facts, Ma'am. Just the facts.

(You'll need to click on the link above for the easy recipe.)

Toffee, after chocolate chips and crushed almonds are applied

English Toffee, Ready to Serve

A few things you will want to know:
1.  I set my burner between LOW and MED and toward the end, only lowered it. Be patient.
2.  It does take about 15 minutes of steady, seriously fast stirring as you're waiting for the toffee to reach 300 degrees. (It helps a lot to have a candy thermometer!)
3. Do not make a commitment to lose 10 pounds until this stuff is out of the house! Don't say you weren't warned.

P.S. The best price I've found on almonds is at Farm & Fleet, but I actually like the Blue Diamond almonds better. I buy the big bags at Walmart. They don't last long around here.

Christmas Gift Set
Special Price
Limited Number - Hurry!

Christmas Soaps
Gift Set of 6 large 4.5+ oz. bars
Only $26.25

Make great stocking stuffers!
Natural, Handcrafted and Handcut Vegan Soaps
This set is available only at


This post may be linked to one or more of the following: Mop it Up Monday  and Mosaic Monday and Barn Hop and  Get in My Tummy and  Cure for the Common Monday and  Clever Chicks Blog Hop and  The Marketplace  and  and  Market Yourself Monday and  Mix it up Monday and Make it Pretty Monday and Le Chateau des Fleurs and   Making the World Cuter Mondays and Make the Scene Monday and   Motivate Me Monday and  Making Monday Marvelous and You're Gonna Love it Tuesday and Knick of Time Tuesday and  Creative Showcase and Memories by the Mile and  Tweak it Tuesday and  Coastal Charm Tuesday and  Take a Look Tuesday and  Tasty Tuesday  and Adorned From Above and  Love Bakes Good Cakes and Mom on TimeOut  and Cast Party Wednesday and  We Did it Wednesday  and Whatever Goes Wednesday and  All Things With Purpose and Home & Garden Thursday and It's a Party at Creative Princess and Artsy Corner Thursday  and The Girl Creative, Thursday and Be Inspired and Time Travel Thursday and Thrifty Things Friday  and  Friday Fences and  Thursday's Inspiration and  The Self-sufficient Home Acre and  I'm Lovin' it Thursday and Creative Things Thursday and   Mandatory Mooch   and Foodie Friends Friday and Freedom Fridays and From the Farm and   Anything Blue Friday and Junkin' Joe and  Serenity Saturday and Get Schooled Saturday  and Inspiration Friday(ThursNite) and Vintage Inspiration Friday and Photo Friday and Share Your Creativity and   A Favorite Thing Saturday and Sunny Simple Sunday and Sunlit Sunday and  Saturday Nite Special


Related Posts with Thumbnails