Monday, December 31, 2012


At the sound of the tolling midnight bell
a brand new year will begin.
Let's raise our hopes in a confident toast,
to the promise it ushers in.

May your battles be few, your pleasures many,
your wishes and dreams fulfilled.
May your confidence stand in the face of loss
and give you the strength to rebuild.

May peace of heart fill all your days
may serenity grace your soul.
May tranquil moments bless your life
and keep your spirit whole.

author unknown

To all of my dear friends, from all of us here
 At Home in English Valley,
Happy 2013.  Wishing you peace!

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Some Secrets Revealed

Before I forget, I wanted to show you a few of the projects I kept as a surprise for Christmas.  Remember I was trying to keep expenses to a minimum and still have something special for everyone.  I made 5 pillows with this fabric.  It was a shower curtain that I found at a resale shop.  I loved the bright print, the trees especially.  Scattered among them are the occasional owl and squirrel.  A quick wash and a little oxy clean on a water spot and the fabric was perfect.  I was able to make all the pillows with $4 purchase...the catch was the pillow forms.  I managed to buy them one at a time with my 40% off coupon at Hob Hob.  Do you love the electronic coupons?  Me too!  Now another catch.  Kris and Doug couldn't take their pillows home on the plane, so God willing, we will have to deliver them! 

I made this Little Birds Garland for my sweet p.  I found it at Sew, Mama, Sew...and sew I did.

This will hang over Penny's crib.  By the way, she just loved our real bird Blue.  Kris is teaching Penny signs, and the one for bird is putting your thumb and index finger together like a birds beak. 

Then the pillowcases.  I made 8 of this fabric.  (20 all together)  It's hard to find a fabric that the guys will like too.  This music print I bought at Ikea right after Thanksgiving and perfect since all my kids are into music.  Kris, Jon and Mike each got a set and one to each of my nephews.

I even managed to make a pillow for myself with the tea stained fabric. There are other things I didn't photograph, but things I've shown before...sweetheart mitten for my sweetheart, and a matching scarf...
a cozy throw for him too.  Crocheted facecloths, a few more pillows...some still to be gifted!

The last secret I want to reveal is that my hubby and I are BIG BANG THEORY  fans. (CBS on Thursday at 7:00 central) We are late to the party as usual and just started watching this show last year with reruns on TBS.(We have watched every episode to date thanks to the local library!) This show makes us laugh, and I mean LAUGH.  It's smart and funny with some of the most interesting and silly characters you'll find on TV.  Our kids got us some of the DVDs for Christmas. So cool!  Sheldon is my favorite character, with Amy Farrah Fowler a close second.  Plus, there is a Penny on the show!  Knock knock, Penny, knock knock, Penny, knock knock, Penny! If you haven't seen it, check it out. 

On to two days of relaxation...I so need it.  I bet you dear friends need some R&R too!  Take care, and thanks for stopping by. See you next year! 

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 29, 2012

More of the story...

When we went to the airport to pick up our visitors from the east, it was a sobering reminder to see the flags flying at half staff for the victims of the horrible shooting at Sandy Hook.  I often thought of those parents through our celebrations.  So quickly the world moves on, and leaves all those grieving families.  Another reason to cherish the special moments we have with family and friends.

I told you we were all about babies this year.  They watched as the silly big people acted like children while playing our "traditional"  Christmas Lottery.  Many years ago, after losing my Mom, I took over her place and had the entire family (Mom's side, about 60 people) over for Christmas Eve every other year.  When my Aunt Lor said that she would not be able to host all of us, we floundered on our own that first Christmas Eve.  Elizabeth and I decided that we had to make a new tradition for our family...
and the Christmas Lottery was born.

That first year, just the kids played, along with all the Moms.  The Brothers and even my hubby were not impressed and stayed in the other room while we played.  But gradually over the years, the guys joined in.  We had more fun, and laughed so hard, it became our favorite part of Christmas Eve.
Now everyone plays, and shops all year for just the right gifts that set the tone of FUN!

First we pile up the gifts...  They are silly gifts mostly...from the dollar store, regifts, we even had a Leg Lamp that went around for a few years, went home with someone for a year and then came back to be picked again by some "lucky" recipient.  We roll some dice and pick two numbers.  If you get one of those numbers, you pick a prize.  We play until all the prizes are gone.  Then comes the fun.  We set a timer and go around again.  This time if you get a number you can steal a prize from anyone.  There are always things that everyone wants (or they think they want, because every gift is wrapped).  One year it was fish flavored cat water.  Another year it was hubcaps from the dollar store.  This year I started a buzz about an obviously hard to disguise record album.  When I got a number I stole the record from someone, and then everyone started to take the album when they got one of the numbers.  (It was an autographed Vic Damone album from the thrift!) We've had grown men steal from children,(everyone said awwwwwwwww!) Husband from Wife, Children from their parents.  We've had so many laughs. Once when son Jon yelled "in your face Trace" to our shyest and quietest family member, I almost died laughing, so did Tracy and everyone else.  It is everything that Christmas isn't about, stealing and accumulating wealth, yet it is the perfect thing that brings us all together. (When we are together it is almost 30 people, this is the one time we are doing something all together, just for fun.) We have so much fun opening our gifts one at a time.  Everyone gets to see what you got...a silver framed photo of the Ikea monkey, surprise packages from Chinatown even the purchasers didn't know what would be inside.  I wrapped a bunch of stuff people left from last year's lottery...(a good way to get rid of it! ;-) a chicken feeder I got at a rummage sale.  My brother Larry is a teacher and has a student that is raising chickens, and he was happy to receive it to pass it on to his student.  The Babe Winkleman seasonings were a big hit, from the summer flea market.  I guess you would have to be with us to appreciate the fun and the thought put into making this the highlight of our gathering. 

Christmas Day was quiet by comparison.  Just Elizabeth's family and our own.  My constant companion, that sweet little Penny.  My arms got a workout, as I couldn't pass this girl by without grabbing her.  She got pretty good at reaching out to me too.  We lit a fire, ate our soup and lasagna, yes a strange combination, but something for everyone.  We enjoyed every moment!

Thanks for stopping by and for all the lovely comments on my last post.  Have a great weekend my friends!

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Joy

When you jump head first into Christmas like I do and most every woman I know, Christmas Eve is the culmination of weeks of thought, planning and work.  There has never been a year when I felt more rewarded than this one.  Everyone came to our dinner and festivities.  There were so many hugs, laughter, good conversations and especially,  baby love. Everyone held a baby at some point...though my brother Jeff did bond with our sweet p. and held her whenever I couldn't!  We are blessed to have 3 wonderful babies in our family now.  You know them as our little bird, now 4, baby bug, days shy of 1 and of course
sweet p. our grand daughter now 7 months old!

The decorations sparkled, the food was plentiful and the cookies a hit as usual.

There is always a moment I step outside to look at our house on Christmas Eve.  With a grateful heart I take a moment to appreciate all that we are blessed with.  A house overflowing with love.

This special girl made this Christmas one I'll never forget.

My heart... My sweet girls... Kristen and company...   My wonderful guys... my dearest hubby, Jon, Mike and Doug... Charlotte and Rachel... my brothers and their dear wives, my nieces and nephews... 
Moments of pure joy. 

I still have company, and more to tell.  Till next time.  Thanks for stopping by.  Enjoy this beautiful day. 

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Bliss

Oh, to hear her laugh!

Penny (& Penny)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Eve of Christmas Eve!

We are watching the skies this morning and waiting for Christmas to come...
  Sometimes it's the snow, the crisp and cold temperatures.
Often it's a feeling that happens, and you say, yes, it feels like Christmas.

Our guys are already home, helping with the heavy lifting that comes with hosting our whole family.
They have already exchanged wrapping for these guys, right out of the bag! ;-)
I'm so grateful they are close brothers,  and are there for good old Mom and Dad too. 

Our sweet p. and her Mom and Dad are winging their way home to us.  It's Penny's first Christmas, and our first Christmas as grandparents.  Sigh...

.  Having our family together, enjoying each others company.
When we cannot fit another person in, we do, and happily.  That's when Christmas comes.

Merry Christmas to you!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Forecast...Cookies with the chance of SNOW!

I've made a small dent in my cookie baking.  Yesterday morning I quickly made 4 batches.
These are dreamsicle cookies, Mike and Charlotte's favorites.

Then there are oatmeal scotchies, Jon's fav, Turtle bars...Tracy and Elizabeth's favorite.  Orange Marmalade bars...chocolate and orange, a great combination.

I had the comfort of my two great nieces.  They are usually on the move...busy and toddling.  Yesterday they were the cuddliest.  The little bird even fell asleep snuggled next to me.  A very rare occurrence these days.  They are just the medicine I needed.
The Little Bird told me the true story of seeing Santa over the weekend.  I got a photo of our calm girl next to Santa and was amazed.   She told me what really happened... she cried and screamed (her words) when Santa came, but then composed herself to go up to Santa to thank him for the gift she received.  I told her I was proud of her... and how I was always afraid of Santa too.  Now as an adult I will give Santa a friendly wave, from a distance. ;-)

Snow is predicted for tonight.  Oh how I've missed those sparkling flakes!  I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know...

I'm including the recipe for the Dreamsicle Cookies, happy baking!

1 stick butter
1/2 cup Tang, yes tang, just like the astronauts used to drink!
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 and 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
vanilla chips

Cream butter, tang, sugar, egg, vanilla.  Mix flour, soda, powder and salt in separate bowl, add to wet ingredients...add vanilla chips.
Shape into walnut sized balls.  Bake for 9 minutes at 350.

This was adapted from a mix in a jar recipe.
Keep this one in will not see these cookies at a cookie exchange, and they are good!

Thanks for stopping by my friends.  Enjoy this beautiful day. THINK SNOW!

Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pierogi and Prayer

I wanted to watch the memorial service last night...the sadness is overwhelming, and the helpless feeling we all have... I couldn't sit and watch...I had to be busy.

Making pierogi is a family tradition.  Usually done surrounded by sparking lights, lit candles and Christmas carols.  Last night, each little pierogi was a prayer...

For peace.



Lord make me an instrument of your peace

Where there is hatred,

Let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is error, truth;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, Joy.

O Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled

As to console;

To be understood,as to understand;

To be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Happy Birthday

To our dear Kristen...the smartest girl in the world, the best Mom ever, my dream come true. Love you so! Happy Birthday.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pray for Newtown.

Posted by Picasa

Winter Sky

Winter is just days away, but the sky tells a different story.

The now bare branches, the bright blue sky...

The sun setting so early now...

Peeking through the trees, the daylight fades...

All that's left is the glow on the horizon...

and the warm light of Christmas that comes from within.

I'm enjoying every moment...I hope you are too.