Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Fabulous Christmas with Family and Friends

Chelsea and Chadd set up our tree a few weeks before Christmas.
I kind of like it tucked into this corner with the vanity.

On Christmas Eve day we went to Grandma Ruth's to make gingerbread houses.
They turned into more interesting gingerbread structures.

Chelsea refused to be limited by working on a plate
so her creation turned out the best.
We were all in awe.

Yes, our "gingerbread" is graham crackers.
It was a strategic decision.

This is the only picture I took of Chadd's ginger-wagon.
His creation had gone through a few phases when it was finally
decided that if it had wheels it could definitely be a house on the move.
The red M&M's are brake lights.

Jonathan's involved lots of pretzels.
Honestly I didn't get it but we had fun anyway.

Chelsea's final creation.

Mom made an adobe house.
She, like me, felt constrained by the plate.
But we worked within our boundaries.

We decided that this was most likely an outhouse.
To go along with Chadd's Mobile Wagon/Home.
My little creation.

It was messy and fun.
Normally this is Chelsea and Jonathan's late night tradition on 
Christmas Eve but we all joined in and made an event of it.

Our friend, John, was with us too but he wasn't crazy about me sharing 
his picture and so I won't.  He made a more industrial looking building.
Funny how we all, with the same materials, made such a varied group of  structures.

After a quick clean up we went to a Christmas Eve service
at Mom's church.  It was delightful.
They included most of the carols as congregational music.

Christmas Eve evening found us opening our stockings.
This is always a good time!
I didn't take any photos though.

Christmas morning we enjoyed breakfast on Georgia's sun porch
because it was very pleasant out there.
What a warm Christmas!

I was still wrapping presents when Mikey and Emily arrived mid morning.
So, I hurried up and we loaded the van with our gifts and went to Mom's
to exchange the goodies.

We took a long time exchanging gifts and even took a break in the middle
to set up Mom's new grill.
It was ridiculous how many gifts there were.
But then, our family is growing and that adds a few gifts.

We followed all of that up with a delicious dinner.
Oh my.

On Saturday we took Allan, Bev and Betsy to see the train museum.
They enjoyed it.
Allan REALLY enjoyed it.
It was fun to see Warren and Allan spend 20 minutes in one spot discussing
gears or some such things.
Others of us spent 30 seconds in that very same spot.
But we all very much enjoyed being there.

I liked the mini cities in the Children's Play Area.
Check out those little old cars.

Of course the large trains out in the main display area are just fabulous!

A pretty vignette in one of the "town" windows.

There is an open walkway overhead which leads to a small art gallery.
I loved catching Warren and Allan enjoying their visit together.
Brothers in law. 
Very good things.

Christmas 2015 was strange in it's weather....
but great in it's content.

We saw family from both of our sides of the family.
Dinner out with Warren's cousins, Aunt and Uncle.
A visit from my brother, Sister-in-law and her sister.
A houseguest friend of the family.
Mikey and Emily's time with us on Christmas Day.
It was simply lovely.

A much better end to a very stressful year.
A wedding!!
Our friend Emma, of Creekside Cottage, gets married this evening.
I predict it will be sweet!!

Last but not least....

Monday, December 28, 2015

Useful Christmas Presents that Are Also Fun

I got coloring books for Christmas. 
It will be fun to color them and then photo edit
and use them on bulletin covers for church.
This one has had a Picmonkey treatment.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

It Is Finished!

Candle Season 2015 is done.  All but the clean up and one final delivery this afternoon.  I woke this morning thinking about plans to retake photos for my websites and Etsy shop.  Can't wait!!  But it will wait because I must finish Christmas shopping now.  I have a fair amount to do and so am scoping out last minute sales to get some larger ticket items.  Pretty cool....I think.  We'll see if it actually works out like I'm planning.

Saturday evening we met Mom, Georgia, Michael and Emily at Lititz Moravian for the annual Love Feast.  This is a special service with music and sweet bread.  Oh, do they make it well.  Traditionally we went to York Moravian because that was the church Georgia grew up in... but with Lititz being closer we have switched our location.  This was the church as we approached it Saturday Evening.

Saturday and Sunday nearly did me in with all that had to happen and how everything had to go just right to make it all work.  My head was literally spinning when I went to bed Saturday night.  But both days did go as planned.  Sunday's big event was our Christmas Service, which came after a Communion Worship Service and Fellowship Meal.  Every year this service is a bit unique because the service is made up of gifts and talents of our congregation.  Sometimes it is heavy on music, and we had plenty,  but also this year we had three offerings of writing talent.  Pastor Jack read two of his original Christmas Poems.

Jack is our Associate Pastor.  He is in his 90's and adored by all.  He says what he thinks and it can be very interesting.  We are so thankful at God's preserving hand on his life.  There is a lot of experience and wisdom in this former veterinarian turned Pastor.

I don't have a photo of Kelly reading her original story of an Unlikely Savior to the children but they were very into it.  You could tell by their reactions.  The giggles...and answers to Kelly's questions.  We truly believe the scripture that tells us that "whatsoever you do, do ALL to the glory of God".  That includes the arts and creative sides of ourselves.  We encourage each other in our gifts.

The final offering of creative writing was that of a young lady who took part with her family in the lighting of our final advent candle.  She wrote a portion of the reading they used to express the meaning of the "Christ candle".

We did have our fair share of musical talent as well.   This young lady played her violin with her brother and a few other musicians who are hidden behind the piano.

It was very special.  She is a quiet girl who is studying to be a missionary.  We love seeing our young people grow and seek God's will in their lives. He is faithful!

I didn't get as many pictures as I would have liked because I had too much to do with playing the piano and singing.  But it was a very good time and I'm thankful that it all came together.

Yesterday was a very full day!  Wow!  In my planning it was going to be a laid back slower paced day.  But instead it was a jam packed full very fun and rewarding day.  Between my phone being so very busy, visiting new friends, Christmas shopping, lunch with my girl, candle deliveries, taking a friend to work and a Christmas Dinner event with my mom it was full, full, full.  But I wouldn't change a thing.

I'll bet you are pretty busy.  It seems that most of us are right now.  I only hope that you are busy with joyful things.  We are very excited to see my brother, sister in law and her sister later this week.  We have plans to make gingerbread houses, go to a Christmas Eve Service, Eat a lot, and share gifts with each other.  We will not forget that this is a birthday celebration.  For our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is almost time to Party!!  But first....a few more gifts to find.  A few more sales to enjoy and some much anticipated time with family visiting from Florida and Chicago.  Gotta run....

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Three Guesses What I've Been Doing.....

And the first two don't count!

Of course you know I'm deep in candle season.  Quite deep, in fact.  It has been a very good time.  I love having my workshop!  I am not using this space as efficiently as is possible yet but that just means that next year will be even more smooth than this year.  I cannot begin to tell you how much it meant to be able to "get away" from it for some time each day.  When I worked in the kitchen I was never away...unless I wasn't in the house.   That was major stress.  I loved it but I also got sick every year.  This year....no bad cold.  :-)  I'm thankful.  This upcoming week is my last week before Christmas.  I have a LOT to make for the last two groups but then I can close the door and come back when I am ready to clean organize and consider changes to make the flow better.  I'll be working on some other details as well.  Like wicks.  I made some changes that work well but leave the candle vulnerable to a slower start if placed in a drafty place (like I just did).  Sometimes you don't see a possible issue until you burn in different conditions than the usual testing spot.    If I'm not 150 percent happy then it isn't right.  And so January will be a new time of wick testing.  Some things are just user error but when possible I want my candles to be fool proof.

A jump start and evaluation of current wicks.
Mind you....I always test before putting new wicks out there 
but there is always room for improvement.

The great news is.....
I've done other fun things too!

Like the Christmas Party for the theater that the rest of my family works for!
I so totally loved the venue.
My family didn't see me for the longest time because I had to check everything out.
It was at the Train Museum in Strasburg.

All of these years I have passed by that place where the tourists go
and didn't realize how amazing it is.
It is huge!
So many full size engines and train cars to explore and enjoy.

As we walked to the building we could see a wall of glass and coming toward us on the inside 
were these adorable people.
Chelsea and Chadd got there before we did.
I motioned for them to pose....and they did...sort of.
I got Chelsea still moving.
But look how great they look.
So much more "grown up" for all they have been through.
I was looking at photos from the day they got engaged and couldn't 
believe the physical changes in both of them in just four months.

Can you see it?
Or is it just this mama knowing how intense it has been
and seeing the growth and maturity forced from
such hard times?

In my explorations I noticed amazing music coming from the speakers.
It was so beautiful that the thought ran through my head
that I wished it was live.
How cool would that be??

And then I came around a train....

And there they were!
The sound was amazing....
I can't rave enough.
Before the night was over people were dancing and it was a very happy scene.

In other years the company has used Hess's Barbecue as the caterer.
I have been driving by Hess's location in a nearby town quite a bit lately and have been getting more and more hungry for it.
Well....While I don't have photos of the food, I did get my wish!
Hess's was the caterer.
They did a fabulous job as always.
Since I can't eat bread, due to the headaches it gives me, it is wonderful to be able to 
have such wonderfully flavored meat and barbecue sauce.

There were some tables and chair groupings scattered amongst the trains.
We ended up getting a table and next thing we knew right over our heads came these people.

Those trains are tall and they were on the platform.
That is a co-worker, Emily, with them.
She is a great friend and is going to be a bridesmaid.

But that isn't all I've done!
I continued to attend Change of Pace through this crazy time.
Sometimes it was just for the worship time due to strict deadlines
and others it was for worship and part of the video or for time in the prayer room
but I made it!
It was needed.  Time out with the Lord and other ladies is just the boost we need
sometimes to keep on going.
This past week was the last for 2015 and it was so special.
After studying First, Second and Third John we were ready to put 
the Love of God into practice.
Sixteen ladies were nominated and chosen to be 
"Queen for a Day".
These were ladies who did not attend Change of Pace but of whom
someone from the study knew needed a bit of extra love.

I arrived to practice and found gifts being set up under the trees for our queens.

I also found our "sound lady" IN the trees searching for controls to make some stop blinking.
Such dedication!
Kathy and her family are moving out west and we are really, really going to miss her.
She would problem solve until she got the answer!
And always with a smile.

One of the "Queens for a Day" ended up spending it in the ultimate way.
She lost her fight with cancer the day before we hoped to honor her here.
But she won her place as Princess in Heaven!

You can see, Lindsay, who nominated her singing a song in her honor.
Lindsay is a songwriter and artist with her own album and she has a very 
clear and beautiful soprano voice.
We were all in tears.

You could tell that it meant much to the other ladies who were able to be 
there to know that they were lifted up and loved.

Anyway....these are a couple of the things that I've been up to.
Did I show you photos of our ladies tea at church?

I don't think I did.
Well, you know my friend, Deanna at Creekside Cottage?
She does a fabulous job every year.
And this year was no exception even with a wedding in the works for the end
of this month!!

Check these out!

 The theme was a Scottish Highlands Christmas  - Era 1920's.

We had Footmen!
They scurried around and brought us anything we wanted or needed.  
And the Butler, Rabe!
He was most attentive and efficient.
It was a lovely evening which ended with carols.
I could do that evening again.

It has been busy but I haven't felt cheated of preparation of my heart
for this Christmas Season.
In many ways it is a richer season for ALL of it.

Blessings to you.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Looking Back on Last Week

Last week was beautiful.
Especially Thanksgiving Day and the weekend.
Mom had asked Chelsea to come up with table decor and so she did.

Delightfully simple so there would be plenty of room on the table for the food.
Even so....we moved these things when it was time to really dig in.
We are just that committed to food.

The place holders were apple seconds with the sheen of hairspray and glitter.
Chelsea made each tag with care.

My Aunt Crystal, Uncle Steve and cousin, Nate were able to come up 
from Virginia to join us.  It was very special to have them there.
You should have seen all of the salads and desserts they brought with them!
Aunt Crystal had been in touch with a third cousin that I don't remember meeting
although he remembers me as a little girl in pigtails.
That goes back a long ways.....and he is a smidge older than I am
so I'll use that as my excuse for not remembering him.
But Dan and his lovely wife Teresa came to join us as well.
I liked them both instantly!
She and I share many things in common and she is so warm
and easy to get to know.
Dan is very musical and so several of us sang for a couple of hours after dinner.
Simply delightful!

After the singing Chelsea, Chadd, Warren and I headed out to Longwood Gardens.
We had done the same last year when Chadd was just learning about our family
and he remembered.  So they suggested we do so again.
With this year's warm weather it was so very nice to attend the opening
night of Christmas lights in the gardens.

Approaching the Conservatory....

Inside the Conservatory....

And then it was time to go.
Obviously there was much more to see than I could share here and I wholeheartedly
recommend this as a fun and refreshing activity during the holiday season.

The weekend was a very relaxing one with only four hours of working at 
Christmas at Lime Valley Mill.
I had set up on Wednesday and once I had served my four hours on Friday afternoon
 my duties there were done until last evening when I picked up the unsold items.

I made NO candles through the weekend.
It was kind of great....although I look forward
to getting back to work today.

 But on Saturday Warren and I watched two movies.
We have both been so busy that it had been a while since we
sat down in the same room at the same time to just chill.

My next three weeks will be very challenging and full
so it is a good thing to have had that little respite.
Much of my inventory is gone.
The show at the Mill was very successful!

I need to get down there and make more for my retail shops
before the fundraiser orders begin to pour in again.
Four groups have deadlines coming soon.

As you can see my life is blessed.
I am so very thankful...and not just on Thanksgiving.
Tonight is our annual Ladies Tea at church.
I'm in the process of turning ten pounds of chicken breasts into 
Poppyseed Chicken
to be served there this evening.
It is always a beautiful night of pampering
with real tea cups and tea pots, 
candle light and much laughter and fellowship.
My friend, Deanna, works so hard to make this special.
She hasn't missed yet!

And so, I'll leave you with best wishes for your day.
And a special Happy Birthday to Betty in Denmark
if she happens to read this post.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving and Please Don't Delete our History

This is perfectly strange timing for a post such as this but it is also the time that I have to write what has been on my mind for a while now.  Today we celebrate Thanksgiving.  A day that hearkens back to the very origination of our country.  I love the United States of America.  It is all I know and it is the best I can imagine on many levels.  However, thinking about it the other day I understand that our coming was total disaster to the Native Americans who were living here at the time.  We brought disease, a sense of self importance which pushed them from their homes and many other disturbing things to their lives.  Someone posted a cartoon photo of the Native Americans standing with signs saying they were not taking refugees.  Well?  What if?  Their lives would have been greatly improved.  But...that is not the point of this post.

So, what is then, you ask?  It is this.  Over the past decade there has been a very strong, and successful trend to rewrite history.  Most recently at Princeton where some students want all references to Woodrow Wilson erased due to his racial views.  President Woodrow Wilson lived in a time where racism was a given.  It appears that he was very extreme in his views and actions.  I believe with all of my heart that God created all human beings to be equal.  I don't believe it is anywhere near right to raise one skin color or culture over another.  However, in history there was racism.  Today there is still racism.  That is completely and totally wrong and not based on the teachings of the Bible.  However, history is something to be learned from....and not erased.  Can we please use this as an opportunity to have a civil conversation?  To change our ways and not our history?

When Joe Paterno was being investigated for how much he knew of the absolutely horrible actions of Jerry Sandusky a panel decided that they would just erase his lifetime of work.  Really?  When did this become possible?  Accomplishments by hundreds of players, staff and even fans could be written off as if they had never occurred?  I guess so....since it has become the policy in the classrooms.
Don't like what actually happened?   Just delete or rewrite.  If they can get away with it so publicly....

How can we avoid the same pitfalls that our predecessors made if we don't see what they were and what the outcome was?  History books are omitting or putting a spin on much important history these days.  This next generation is at a disadvantage.

History is NOT to be about putting forth what we WISHED had happened or what we hope WILL happen. It is about the truth of what has happened and what we can learn both positively and negatively from it.

Recently there was a rewriting of the NIV version of the Bible.  Those writers decided to gender neutralize it.  Seriously???

We are at a very serious crossroads in our country and our churches.  One in which we will either learn from past mistakes or do it all over again.  I wonder if we know enough to make the right choices?  I pray there is still enough truth out there to prevail.  Whatever the case, our Heavenly Father has not and cannot be edited and His Spirit still speaks to the hearts and minds of His people.  Here's hoping we listen and obey.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving Day.  May it be blessed by the truth of the wonder of community loving and serving each other.  I hope you are celebrating with family and perhaps some who don't have family nearby.  We will celebrate with family from a distance and some cousins I've never met. And now, I should go put the ham in.  Mom has the turkey started at her house.  See ya!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Crazy Beautiful Weather in November

This is a very busy week.  With my second largest 
craft show beginning on Friday and running through Sunday
there is a need for me to have a lot of things made up 
and organized.

We are also having an extended family Thanksgiving
this year, which we are excited about.
We have family coming from Virginia and cousins
I don't ever remember meeting coming from York County.
I can't wait to make their acquaintance.
I remember being at their Grandparent's house 
when I was a kid.
Precious memories.

I've been back and forth about the best timing to 
do the shopping, cooking, candle making and packing.
This morning Chelsea and I thought we would get to Costco
just as they opened and beat the crowds.
Well, you can't blame us for trying.
We got there fifteen minutes after they opened
and drove around and around waiting for a parking 
space to open up from someone who had actually 
been there fifteen minutes earlier and had made 
record time gathering their items.

I've been making candles at every available moment
and today was no exception.
This afternoon I thought perhaps I would begin setting
up over at the Lime Valley Mill.
And so Chelsea and I loaded the car and headed over.
However, it was all locked up.
I must have hit it just at a bad time when no one
was there to set up, etc.
It isn't a problem.
I'll just do it in the morning but since we were there
and it was so pretty I decided to walk around 
and grab a few pictures.

One of the covered bridges that Lancaster County 
is known for.
Sadly, this one is closed at the moment.
Hoping it can reopen soon.

 The glass is wavy.
Just look at those windows.

I decided to try using the panorama setting. 

It was soooo cold last year this time. 
We will be in the 50's through the end of the week
from the sounds of things and that will make 
hanging out in The Mill much nicer.
This is going to be GOOD!

Soon after getting home I was folding laundry 
when Warren's mom popped in.
She was doing some yard work and found this 
Clematis blooming on the side of her shed.
Seriously...in late November.
What a year!!

I would gladly sign up for the same kind of 
November next year.
The roses are going strong and the cows are 
still enjoying a green pasture.
Not so bad.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!