A Tweaking of the Christmas Crate Centerpiece

Last week I posted a picture of a Christmas centerpiece I made with an old wooden Coca Cola Crate.  It was unanimous that it needed some red berries or something red.  So I added the berries and replaced the pine cones with snow-covered pine cones.  I like it better and the red berries made it pop!

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Gail ♥

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Michelle’s Weekly Pet Challenge

Recently, Nugget still managed to make himself fit into the basket he used to play in as a small kitten.  He’s seven months old now.  It was a tight squeeze and he needed help getting out, but he fit!  Nugget is so comical and he is always making us laugh.

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Gail ♥

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A Rustic Christmas Crate Centerpiece

I tried my hand at a little Christmas creativity tonight (and creative I am not)!  My brother-in-law found this old Coca Cola crate at an antique store (which we discovered is actually a Pepsi Cola crate that someone spray painted red and stenciled the Coca Cola logo on it). Go figure!!

I put red and green tissue paper on the bottom, then added a few pine boughs.  I filled the mason jars with white sand and put a white tea light in the center, 2 diagonal red tea lights and 2 diagonal green tea lights.  I threw in a few silver and gold ornaments and pine cones.  I had actually planned to use some other pine cones that I sprayed with snow but I can’t seem to get the fake snow to dry on the pine cones????  So for now, I’ll use the plain cones until the others dry (although I don’t think they’re planning on drying anytime this year).

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The ambiance with the lights out….

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Gail ♥

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When Peace is Elusive

I remember when my children were infants.  My husband and I would often go into their rooms at night and peek at them sleeping peacefully in their cribs.  Sometimes we would just stand there in the soft glow of the night-light of their room, arms entwined around one another, and  we would marvel at their precious baby faces and the miracle of their being.  Sometimes we would smile and laugh quiet at their funny little sleep-time expressions, their tiny open mouths, and the barely audible sounds they would make.  Our hearts just swelled with love for them.

After that we would climb into our own bed where slumber awaited us.  We’d snuggle and hold each other close.  My husband has always been the type to fall off to sleep as soon as his head hits the pillow.  Not a worry in the world.  I, however, have never been able to do that.  Back in those days, that was the sweetest, most peaceful part of the day. And definitely my most favorite time of the day.  The time of day when I had the peace of knowing that my entire family was all safe, sound, and asleep under one roof.  All was quiet and still and I would lay there saying quiet prayers to God, thanking him for keeping us all together and safe.  I’d lay there listening to my family sleep and just bask in that peaceful feeling.  And eventually, sleep would come.  Oh how many times I wanted to make time stand still during those days and have that feeling last.  It was so different from the daylight hours when I was a busy, exhausted, stressed-out mess of a young mother and there didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get things done.

I remember the first week of my empty nest and how I climbed in bed one night and suddenly missed having that peaceful feeling of knowing that all of our family was safely tucked away at home together.  I missed the heavy deep sleeping sounds coming from my sons’ bedrooms.  I hated the quiet as it no longer felt peaceful, but anxiety-filled. Instead of that calm serenity, there was an obtrusive uneasiness that had taken its place.

Now I seem to be an expert at tossing and turning.  Insomnia has become my closest companion.  It seems there is so much to worry about these days….  The world’s unrest, increasing crime, whether my son’s are safe and making wise choices in college, advancing age and new health problems that go along with it, impending test results from the doctor’s office, a hurtful comment from a friend, finances, never-ending housework, etc., etc., etc.   I don’t want to be so anxious but it seems I always am.

Lately, I’ve felt desperate to find that peace again and I know where I need to go to find it. I think of Isaiah 26:3– You Lord, give true peace to those who depend on you, because they trust you.   Lord, come into my heart and bring me that peace again, for You are the only one who can calm my storms.   I long to draw near to You and spend time in Your presence, resting in Your capable arms and knowing that when I do,  peace will come.  I need to learn to give my burdens and worries to You for good, not handing them over and snatching them right back as I often am so guilty of doing.  Knowing You, believing in You, and abiding in You, brings me peace.  I thank you for Your peace that restores me.

Gail ♥

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone But Not Forgotten

In this week’s photo challenge, we are to show a photo that represents something that is gone, but not forgotten.

In today’s challenge, show us what “gone, but not forgotten” means to you. It could be a photo of a faithful canine friend who’s chasing squirrels in a better place, a spot in your city, town, or village that reminds you of a relationship now over, a talisman that reminds you of something that you can never get back, a photo of you in your smashing 70s silver lamé jumpsuit, or the crumbs that remain from the delicious cheesecake you baked.

This is my cat, Bigfoot.  I acquired Bigfoot as a small kitten and had him for 19 1/2 years. He developed bone cancer in his lower jaw and had to be euthanized last year.  I loved him with all my heart and words can’t even begin to describe how much I miss him. Losing him was like losing a son.  He brought much joy to me.  I hope and pray that he is in a better place, is happy, and that I will be reunited with him one day.

Bigfoot- 1994-2013

Bigfoot- 1994-2013

Gail ♥

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Monday’s Question

Question:  Do you do any special Christmas reading every year or have certain books you read every Christmas?

My Answer:   I do usually spend the month of December reading Christmas books. Every year I read The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren.  Last year I read The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp, which is an Advent Devotional book, and plan to make that yearly reading as well.  I also read The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs and enjoyed that so much that I will read that again this year too.  Over the last few years I’ve been reading The Mitford Series of books by Jan Karon (which I absolutely adore).  I’m on book 8 in the series now- Shepherd’s Abiding- which just so happens to pertain to Christmas, so I’ll be adding that for December reading as well.

How about you?  Any books you can recommend for special Christmas reading?

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Gail ♥

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Thanksgiving Nostalgia

I groggily stumble out of a nice warm bed on a cold Thanksgiving morning.  Yawning wide, I make my way to the kitchen with two hungry kittens on my hills.  Filling their bowls, I talk to them and watch them weaving in and out around my legs.  I watch and I smile as they  gobble up their breakfast, their little teeth making crunching noises on the dry kibble.  I turn on the kitchen sink water, grab my vegetable scrubbing-brush, and start scrubbing sweet potatoes.  The frigid cold water hastens my waking.

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Looking out the window on the gray day of Thanksgiving with scattered gold and red leaves littering the ground, I think of how many years I’ve made these sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving morning with the sounds of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade blaring in the background.  I think of past Thanksgiving days and my heart waxes nostalgic.  I remember waking up as a child every Thanksgiving morning to the smells of my mother’s sautéed onions and the flavorful wisps of roasting turkey.  Sometimes I think those were the best smells in the whole world.  I would linger in bed and listen to the sounds of my mother clanging pots and pans down the hall in the kitchen.  I remember my dad coming into my bedroom with his announcement that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade was starting.  I remember how our family of five and maybe a guest or two all gathered around the dining room table for Thanksgiving dinner (it’s the only time I can remember eating in the dining room) and how I’m grateful for those memories.  I can still see my mother’s Napco turkey centerpiece in the middle of that table, her gold tablecloth and her Gurley pilgrim and turkey candles.  They were guaranteed to be there every year.  I remember her cornucopia and the basket that contained pine cones and all the gourds my mother had spray painted gold.  I think of my father’s jokes and his laughter and I can still visualize my mother stressing over her gravy not being thick enough.  Her gravy was always delicious whether she believed it or not.

Napco turkey

Gurley candles

I think back to being in Colonial Williamsburg on a high school trip just days before Thanksgiving of 1976 and eating at King’s Arm Tavern.  I still will swear to the day I die, that it was the best meal I ever ate.  As I was leaving the tavern, the kind lady dressed in colonial times smiling big by the door, handed me a book of recipes of everything I had eaten that evening.  I remember my mother waiting in her green Ford station wagon as I stepped off the Greyhound bus at the high school on Thanksgiving morning and how the car reeked of sauteed onions which made me realize my mother was taking a break from her busy Thanksgiving cooking schedule to pick her youngest daughter up.   I excitedly began telling her that it was the best trip ever and thanking her for letting me go.  I told her about the delicious tavern meal and  that I had the absolute BEST recipe for sweet potato casserole.  That afternoon, she let her 17-year-old daughter make that sweet potato casserole and it became a Thanksgiving tradition from that point on.  Thirty eight years later, I still get up early on Thanksgiving morning while my family sleeps in and I make those King’s Arm Tavern sweet potatoes.  It’s funny how family traditions get started.

King's Arm Tavern Sweet Potatoes

I’m still staring out the window while my memories swirl and the gold leaves shine on the ground like a golden wheat harvest. Sadness comes this year like it does every year and I come to expect it.   I see the dead and dying leaves all over the ground and I’m reminded of my losses.  Thanksgiving is a day to be with family and so I miss my mother and father on Thanksgiving Day.  And for the second year in a row, I miss my youngest son being home on Thanksgiving.  I wonder if he misses me too.   I’m very grateful for blessings big and small in my life, but there’s this emptiness there and I have to acknowledge it to get through the day.

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So I’m standing at the sink and I’m scrubbing those potatoes until I about scrub the skin right off.   My eyes blur and a tear drops into the sink.  I long to call my father and hear him answer the phone as he always did on this day. “Happy Thanksgiving.”  I can hear his low, calm voice so vividly and I remember the sincerity in his voice.  I recall  how some of the neighborhood kids just liked calling our house on Thanksgiving Day because they knew my dad would answer the phone with his characteristic salutation.  I stop scrubbing potatoes and I call my son but he doesn’t answer.

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I call my son again later in the evening when our family gathers together for our traditional meal.  Still no answer, but I expect it this time.  I won’t call again.  The tears well up hot but I fight them away.   I sit with family around the table and I listen to old stories.  As usual, my brother-in-laws make me laugh loud.  I listen to cousins sitting at the kid’s table in an adjoining room and I hear their laughter wafting in to our room.  And I’m thankful for the traditions and the memories, and the love.  I’m even thankful for the sadness.

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I get home and I light Thanksgiving candles and I feed my kittens turkey pâté cat food.  I put the empty sweet potato casserole dish in the sink to be washed.  Another Thanksgiving has come and gone and I am grateful for the blessings in my life.  And I’m thankful for traditions and for that sweet potato casserole.

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Gail ♥

 

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