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.