Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to you all!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him
in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was
no room for them in the inn."
Luke 2:7

If you were the innkeeper, what would you do?
and where would you put Him?

You know - today you really are the innkeeper.

God bless and have a very Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Merry Funtry Friday Christmas Sing-a-long ~ Paulden Style!

Care to join me for a little country Christmas fun? 

Last Sunday some of the churches in the community got together and had a sing-a-long at the fire station/community center to help out the Paulden food bank.  "Bring a can of food and join the fun" was the invitation and lots of people grabbed some goodies and came prepared to sing.

First we had a high tech power point sing-a-long.  We "Wish-ed You a Merry Christmas" way more than 3X because first we sang it in English and then in Spanish.  And then we "Rudolf-ed" and "Frosty-ed the Snowman" and a few others... in both Spanish and English, too.  Pretty cool to have the words up on the wall... for those of us who can only remember half of the first verse...

After all that singing, we needed a break sooo...

In typical country fashion, there was a TON of food.  I can guarantee that no calorie was left out of that gathering!  There was everything from popcorn balls to every kind of chocolate creation you could imagine.  Hey, country boys like to eat and country mamas like to cook - and they all out did themselves.  There are no pictures of the food.  Everyone was too busy eating...

But look at the cute mistletoe that I got.  Lorie and her grandkids picked it fresh, tied on the ribbons, and sold them to raise money for the food bank.  I bought one for me and one for my sister.   (shhhh!  my sister doesn't know that yet!)

And then it was time for the kids to do their program.  What can I say?  Kids are always cute when they do these things...

There you have the Angel holding baby Jesus - who, by the way was a real little baby not a doll.  And "no crying he made"... or poopy mess, either.  Miracles do still happen!  That was also proved by the unpredictable little drummer boy, who did drum very well and followed directions.  The darling little lamb even kept her costume on for the entire performance.  (My friend, Lorie, made the lamb costume - isn't it cute?)  It's hard to see from my lousy photograph, but the little girl in the wheelchair on the left is the star that shone over the manger.  She had a really cute costume, too. 

And, yes, the people in front of me enjoyed the kids, too.  If I cut out their heads out of the picture, you couldn't have seen the manger...

Chade took better pictures than I did...  when he wasn't munching goodies.  Here's a funky picture of him taking a picture of the kid's choir.

He had his big mega name camera with him.  And it takes pictures in the dark...  Anyway, I was too busy singing.  Yes, off key sometimes, but I got a few notes right! 

Hey, I was told to bring food for the food bank and have fun - nobody said I had to sing like an opera star - haha!  Hope you had fun joining me at our little Christmas sing-a-long.  I think it's time to "Deck the halls with boughs of holly...."

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's that time of year - Fruitcake Season!

It's an annual event in our family. My sister and I make our grandmother's fruitcake in the fall and I like to share this 150 year old classic recipe.  The recipe was a wedding gift to my mother's mother when she set up her first kitchen as a married woman.  Nana made it almost every year - with lots of help from all of us.  The original instructions were very sparse, so over the years we have added more instructions and hints.  It is definitely a piece of history!

Naomi got two yolks in that egg from one of Grammy's chickens!
  • 9 eggs
  • 2 cups of butter (real butter, not margarine or shortening!!!)
  • 2 cups of sugar (regular white sugar – not brown sugar!!!)
  • 4 cups of flour (I like unbleached white flour for this fruitcake – no one has ever used wheat in this recipe)
  • 4 pounds of fruit and nuts – use Candied pineapple, cherries, citron, orange and lemon peel; golden raisins (not dark raisins), pecans, and currants (if you like them – my sis and I don’t use the currants because we don’t like them =p). Just make sure that all of the fruit and nut amounts add up to 4 pounds. Doing the math is the hardest part of making this fruitcake. Take a calculator. Totally!
  • 1 cup of molasses (we use unsulfured dark molasses – yummy!)
  • 1 cup of brandy or fruit juice (I like orange juice in the fruitcake – My sister, Mary, likes brandy. Just make sure you use the same brandy to soak the fruitcake that you put in it. If you want to use brandy then use either peach or apricot brandy. Oh, and don’t soak the cakes in orange juice even if you did put it in the fruitcake – yuck! Just pick one of those brandies and use that to soak the cakes.)
  • You will also need one tablespoon of each of these spices (don’t omit any of them!!!) ~ allspice, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, and cloves.
And you will need a huge wooden spoon, a big bowl, and a bigger than big bowl. Trust me!
Messy job number one: Grease the pans. Line the pans with parchment paper. Grease the paper. We use shortening to do this. For the 9 egg fruit cake you will need a herd of small loaf pans, or three small loaf pans and a large tube pan. I like the tube pan because I think the cake is really pretty even if it is harder to get the paper in there. Hey – it’s what Nana used *smiles* But, if you use the tube pan be prepared for it to cook a looooong time…
Messy job number two: Wash the raisins and pick out all of the stems. Do the same with the currants if you are using them. Nana used to do this the night before and leave them all to dry overnight. She liked currants so she always used them, too. Take your candied fruit and cut all of the candied cherries and candied pineapple pieces in half. After you have all of the fruit cut and the raisins and currants are dry, mix them all of the fruit and nuts together.
In another big bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and beat after each addition. Add molasses and mix well. You can use a mixer for this part (newly added to the instructions… hehe – but this is the only time to use the mixer!)
Sift flour and spices together. Combine the sifted flour/spice mixture with the fruit. This is very important because otherwise your fruit will all sink to the bottom. It’s okay if you have a little flour left – or you can just add it all to the fruit.  I have done it both ways, though, and as long as the fruit is totally coated with the flour mixture it will work okay.
Now you can put your mixer away unless you are not at all attached to it and you don’t care if it’s little motor burns up… (newly added to instructions due to life experience of a recent recipient of this recipe…) Note, again, you need a huge wooden spoon!
Now is also a good time to pre-heat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. And – VERY IMPORTANT!!! – put a big pan of water in the bottom of your oven. I use a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Make sure that this is always full of water or your fruitcake will be really dry.
Pour the creamed mixture into a huge bowl (trust me – big is not big enough) and add the fruit mixture a little at a time, alternating with a little brandy. Blend well after each addition. Continue adding the fruit mixture and the brandy until they are all in the creamed mixture.  This year, we added small amounts of the creamed mixture, fruit, and then brandy and it was actually a little easier to stir.  Be inventive - our ancestors were!
Okay – now fill all of those greased little and big pans about two thirds full of batter. You can bake them all at the same time, but make sure that there is a little space between them.
Your fruitcakes will take between one and two hours to bake. Listen to them – they make a happy sound when they are cooking. When they are done, they are silent (mostly). Test with a toothpick, too, but remember that they are moist. Also, look for them to pull away from the edge of the pans just a teeny bit when they are done. Done-nessabout an hour; tube pan takes at least two hours. Heavy on the “about”…
When they are done, let them cool completely. Soak the cheese cloth in brandy and wrap it all around the fruitcakes. Don’t get it too soggy or you will have squishy fruitcake on the outside. After they are wrapped in the brandy soaked cheese cloth, then wrap them tightly with heavy aluminum foil. My sister puts hers in the freezer, I prefer to leave mine in the fridge. They are best if you let them sit for a week or so – but that is really hard to do!
To see pictures as well as these instructions, check out this blog post from a previous adventure in fruitcake making - Fruitcake Recipe ~ The Spirit of Christmas Treasure Hunt!
Merry Christmas – hope your kitchen smells as nice as my sisters!

PS  This recipe is shared for your personal enjoyment - make it at your own risk!  Really good fruitcake is habit forming...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Giveaway creativity - 5 steps to a great blog giveaway!

Warm up your blog readers with a great giveaway this winter.  Here are some hints to 'break the ice' and have a successful giveaway!
  1. Keep your focus:  Why are you having a giveaway?  reader love?  special happening in your life?  do you want more followers?  or do you want people to sign up to receive your newsletter?  Some other reason?  If you have a clear focus of why you are having your giveaway, then you can determine what you want your readers to do to participate and you can clearly share the "why and how to" of participating in your giveaway.
  2. Keep it simple:  Treasure hunts can be fun, but most people don't have the time time to spend 30 minutes participating in a giveaway.  To get lots of participation, keep your giveaway simple and, if possible, keep your readers on your blog or direct them to your website, facebook, twitter, etc, with a link.  "Leave a comment", "follow my blog and comment", "sign up for my email" - all of these can be done quickly and without leaving your blog.  Provide a link to your website, facebook, twitter, etc. to make it simple for your reader to negotiate internet travel.
  3. Keep it fun: Your giveaway *widget* may be gorgeous, but is it a *one size fits all*?  To reach a broader "audience", toss a little variety in your giveaway.  Offer a selection of items, and let the reader choose.  Or offer a custom item that you will make *just for that person*.  Remind your readers, that your lovely *widget* would make a beautiful gift for someone special.  Let your reader actively participate in the choice of what they will win, and you will attract more participants! 
  4. Keep it interesting:  Have several posts during your giveaway with updates on what's happening.  Plan to let people play for about a week, and let them participate in your giveaway on more than one post.  Yes, I know, you will have a little more work to do and a bit more to keep track of, but your readers will have the chance to interact with you several times and they will be reading new blog posts each time.  Less than a week, and your readers may not have enough time to participate.  More than a week and your readers may begin to loose interest.
  5. Keep it *stellar*:  When you have a giveaway, give away your best.  After all, your readers give you their time, comments, and blogger *love* - sharing your best with them lets them know how special they are!  Here's what Katlyn won in my last giveaway:
It was fun to create this little doggie portrait of Kolar especially for her!

Want to see another fun giveaway?  Check out the current Blogging Business Artisans' giveaway for December.  It ends, December 20, 2011, but here are some details:   This awesome little giveaway has several very fun items included, clear directions on how to particpate, links are all included and clearly labeled, and it is designed to be lots fun.  There are several ways you can participate, which is another fun element to add to a giveaway.  That lets your readers decided what they want to do and how they want to participate.  Check it out soon because this giveaway ends December 20, 2011!!!

So, how about you?  Have you thought about having a giveaway?  Did you recently have one?  Was this information helpful?  Share some details in the comments! 


PS  No matter what gift I feature in a giveaway, there is always a gift that is far more precious... the Lord!
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and  cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."  James 1:17

Friday, December 9, 2011

Brrrr cold Funtry Friday Fun!

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a 2 x 4... and a very thick chunk of ice...

One thing for sure, throwing a stick for Bailey in the snow...
...creates much less dust than toss it in the dirt!

Yep, that was two mid-air catches!

Proud of himself?  Yep.  He moved his giant heavy tire feeder right smack in front of the gate.
The gate only opens one way.  Guess which way!
Have you ever seen a cat torture a dog?
They learned how to do that by watching rabbits...

Hope you are warm and cozy wherever you are!  Happy Funtry Friday!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Snow. *Attitude Adjustment* ~~~SNOW!!!~~~

Well, we finally got a fairly good snow dump here.  Yep, this is what I woke up to yesterday morning ~

Oh, yeah, and then there was this...

LOL - so much for tossing the wood for the morning on the porch!  Ahem.  Usually it is nice and dry up here... but not yesterday.  Yep, time to turn up the gas heat...

And let me tell you it was ****COLD**** out there....  Whoa - brrrrr!  Bethie and I share the same opinion of snow and cold, I think...

Yes.  I was mean.  I lured her out with a carrot.  Well, I really did give her the carrot, so that's not so mean, right?  I think once she got out there, she didn't quite know what to do.  She has a typical goat reaction to weather.  Give me sunshine or go away! 

Now talk about a different attitude...  Benny has just the right attitude when it comes to snow.

No, I did not lure him out with a carrot.  He was happily hopping around while it was snowing all over him.  Benny bounces all over the place and has a good attitude everyday - snow, sunshine, rain - well, unless it is pouring buckets...  Then he hides.

Hmmmm.... I'm thinking I need to cultivate a "Benny attitude" about this cold winter weather and find some ways to enjoy it... 

Well, my attitude adjustment must have worked since I was standing out there taking pictures while it was snowing... until my camera started to freeze!  LOL! 

Happy snow!

"...for the joy of the Lord is your strength."
Nehemiah 8:10b

Friday, December 2, 2011

The relative size of a kitten... Funtry Friday!

If you have been owned by a cat, you know that a cat - any cat - has a... well... a rather large opinion of their place in the universe.  Best not to argue that either...  A cat is convinced that they are the size of an elephant.  At least.  Perhaps larger, depending on the circumstance... 

And what does a kitten think?  Exactly the same thing...

Sizing up the "competition"...

Prepare to launch!

One down!  Only about a dozen more to go...

Ahhhh.... the rooster!

***shhhhhh*** he doesn't see me...


Yep.  This little kitten has the "catitude" and that's for sure! 

Happy Funtry Friday!
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