This Christmas

100_3940.2

100_3939.2This Christmas has crept into my soul slowly.  I am sitting here looking at the lights wrapped in tulle on my fireplace wall and the little tree lights peeking in from the Music room and I realize that sitting quietly (as quietly as you can with a game on in the background), soaking in the lights and allowing the redeeming grace of love’s pure light to sink to the bottom of your soul is the only thing that really matters.

The decorations don’t have to be major or perfect, the gifts don’t have to be extravagant and the food doesn’t have to be over the top.  Simple can suffice. (And the excitement of a Bengals touchdown can apparently break through the calm without making the lights flicker too much before all settles back to calm and bright.)

Earlier in the season when Rod Stewart was crooning in my ear and reminding me about baby Jesus (really, if you read it once, no need to again, but if you’re curious go on over and I’ll be here when you come back) I had one of those moments when you begin to realize a deep truth. A truth that has been marinating in my soul all season.  I realized that we go to a lot of trouble to make one day perfect. We act as if Christmas Day only comes once a year.  We get all in a frenzy making sure we have our list checked off and everything planned and synchronized.  We exhaust ourselves shopping and cooking and trying to fit in one more event.

PicMonkey Collage4

We say that it is because of Jesus, Lord at Thy birth.  But, I have to wonder if that is what we are doing.  Because I’m not so sure we are really focusing on the Holy Infant, tender and mild.  In light of the significance of his birth, Christmas is every day.  The day of his birth was the dawn of redeeming grace.  It wasn’t just for that one day, to be remembered once a year.  It is a Hallelujah event to be celebrated every day.

100_3881.2

100_4019.2

100_3853.2

There is nothing wrong with trees and baubles, parties and great food, or sharing gifts with family and friends.  However, if those things become our focus and wear us down to the point of becoming Scrooge, then I think we have to examine our priorities.  That is what I decided to do.

PicMonkey Collage2

When Rod sang Silent Night, the words really sank in more than ever before. I realized I wanted my focus to be on Christ, the Savior is born, so, I made a list of things to remember this Christmas.  Maybe it will help you remember too!

This Christmas.2

100_4002.2

May you find Heavenly peace wrapped in grace,

Teresa

A few more pictures…

100_3853.2

.2

100_3858.2

100_4052

100_4005.2

100_3868.2.1

100_4041

100_3849

PicMonkey Collage1

100_3850.2

100_3940.2

i.100_2373.2

100_1434.23

Advertisements

Christmas Preview

100_3928

Christmas is very simple this year. I have kept it in the less is more genre and will be posting pictures and reflections later in the week.  I will also link up with The Nester and point you over there so you can visit other homes as well.

Christmas is about the Holy Infant and His redeeming grace.  Let’s not forget.

Untitled

Weekend Toss

So, if you read my last post, just let me assure you that this week has been better, although there was a hairy stretch today while making soup.  Recipe below.

I have been busy finalizing shopping and what little bit of decorating I have done. There is a link-up next week I might join for a Tour of Christmas decorations hosted by the Nester, who gave us permission to Undecorate.  If I link up it will probably be either Monday or Tuesday.

100_3873.2

My Christmas Theme this year centers around Silent Night.  The words to that song have really been jumping out at me this year.  I plan to write more about that next week.  I really want to focus on the Holy Infant this year rather than all the hustle and bustle.  His tenderness , the love’s pure light.  So, join me next week as I take a day to reflect on this song and how it can impact your Christmas season.  Probably towards the end of the week.

.2

You may be interested in reading about Simple Gifts to Encourage The Soul by Emily over at Chatting at the Sky. Maybe some of them would be your favorites too!

Also, in the decor department you may want to check out Laura’s Kitchen renovation and Christmas Decor.  She has recently moved to a new home and has been sharing her renovations.  She has great taste and does everything on a budget, so we can all know that it’s not unrealistic to redo a room or two.  I think you will enjoy her style.

Speaking of decor, I finally painted the inside of my front door, which has sported various shades of sample paints for the past three years.  It is now all one color that may or may not last for the next three years.  Time will tell.  For now it works.  You may remember when I wrote about my Favorite Colors on Decor to Adore, that I mentioned my new favorite shade of Pink was Fruit Shake by Benjamin Moore and that pink might show up in my future decor.  Well, it has.  Not Fruit Shake though, but a color that is very close.

100_3866.2

It reads a little more sugary pink in this picture than it actually is.  In person it is what I call a grown-up, sophisticated pink.  I combined three samples I had – they were Glidden colors mixed with Olympic paint from Lowe’s.  The colors were: Pink Ballet Slipper (too pale), Deep Coral (too dark) and Red Grapefruit (Just right).  I didn’t want to buy a whole quart of the Red Grapefruit and by experimenting I found that mixing the three together was pretty close to the Red Grapefruit.  It was the shade my husband liked the best (my favorite too) so we went with it and now my door is all one color.

100_3868.2

I feel much better knowing this door has finally found it’s place in the world of color. In the above picture you can also see bits of my Christmas decor.  I put up a little four foot tree and decided that was just enough.

In other news, today, I made Cheeseburger soup which is going to be yummylicious. So, you will want to try this one.  I call it:

 TERESA’S YUMMY VARIATION ON EVERYBODY’S CHEESEBURGER SOUP

100_3874-001

You will need the following:

  • 2 pounds ground beef ( the leaner the better for your health)
  • 1 large sweet potato cubed 1- 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 5-6 med potatoes cubed 1- 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 1 med – lg onion chopped
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes – drained (optional)
  • 2-3 cups kale chopped, stems removed (optional)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (I used 4 cubes of Dorot frozen)
  • 3-4 cubes of frozen basil (I used Dorot) = 4 tsp
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 T brown sugar (or honey, if you prefer)
  • Mustard, Ketchup and Worcestershire – a few squirts of each for a little added interest – I added these to my hamburger as it was browning – probably 1-2 T of mustard, ½ c of Ketchup and about 5-6 dashes of Worcestershire.
  • 8 cups of Chicken Broth
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups of any cheese you prefer ( I used a combination of Velveeta, cream cheese and cheddar – (approx. slightly less than ¼ box Velveeta, ½ block of cream cheese and ½ bag of shredded cheddar – so that may be a little more than two cups – you can’t go wrong with cheese – use as much or as little as you like).
  1. I chopped the potatoes and covered them with 4 cups of chicken broth and cooked long enough to make them firm tender – I added one cube of garlic and one of basil to add flavor and a little salt and pepper as they were cooking. When finished I transfer all, including liquid to my crock-pot.
  2. While the potatoes were cooking, I sautéd my onion in butter with 2 cubes of the garlic and 2 of the basil. When the onion was starting to get tender I transferred it to the crock-pot.
  3. I then used the same skillet to brown the beef – I added salt, pepper and all the condiments mentioned above and the brown sugar.  When the hamburger was almost done I added the diced tomatoes.  I then transferred this to the crock-pot.
  4. I then added another 4 cups of chicken broth.
  5. In the stockpot I used for my potatoes, I melted about 4 T of butter then added my chopped cheeses and the two cups of heavy cream. I started out on med heat and then turned to low, stirring almost constantly.  I also added a cup or two of my broth off the soup just for extra liquid to keep the cheese from sticking. I added the final garlic and basil cube to this mixture and some pepper.  Once the cheese was melted I added this to the crock-pot and gently stirred to blend all ingredients.
  6. I cooked on high for 1 ½ – 2 hours, then added the kale and turned to low and allowed to simmer on low for 2-3 hours. Once the Kale is tender and flavors are blended it is ready to eat.  But can be left on low for several hours until ready to serve.  Kale is similar to cabbage in flavor, but much milder – it is full of vitamins and adds a much better texture to soup than spinach – it holds together better and the taste is milder.  It really does not make the soup taste weird and it is a good way to add some vegetables.  So use it already!

I just kept checking and adjusting seasonings as I went, but pretty much following the above steps seemed to have a good balance on spice and flavor.

I plan to serve it with Mrs. Schubert’s Yeast Rolls.

100_3877

SOUP NOTES:  I doubled the recipe from what most called for, so that we could share with my parents and have leftovers.  I have a large (at least 6 qt crock-pot and it was full to the brim.  If you don’t have a large crock-pot, then just use a large stockpot and simmer on the stove.) If you don’t need this much, then just do half the ingredients more or less.

Also, you could chop the potatoes and add them to the crock-pot with the chicken broth and seasonings and cook them a few hours, then when they are tender, brown your meat and onions and add the other ingredients. (You could also do the onion and hamburger together.)  This would have saved me a lot of time and extra clean-up, but for some reason I like to make things hard on myself.

I would still recommend doing the cheese sauce separate and then adding it to the soup as it helps the cheese melt better.  Also, some people do a flour rue to help thicken the soup – I opted not to do this, as I don’t mind the broth being a little thin – it is so full of flavor that it doesn’t have to be thick.

I know I have a lot of notes etc, but this is really a very easy recipe and it would be hard to mess it up.  You can add or delete ingredients as you wish to suit what you have on hand and your taste.  Some people use carrots and celery; one recipe used corn.  As long as you are using the broth, beef, potatoes, cheese and seasonings, you’d have to be pretty incompetent to mess it up.  Cheese makes everything taste great.  I hope you try this soup and I hope you enjoy it!

I looked at several recipes online and Pinterest and then took elements from all of them to suit my taste and pantry. I found that they were all pretty much variations on each other.  Edie’s has the mustard, ketchup and Worcestershire and I thought they added interest.  I looked at Edie’s Cheeseburger in Paradise Soup, from Life in Grace, also Taste of Home and Buns in My Oven and Easy Cheeseburger Soup from Chocolate, Chocolate and More, which is the one I have pinned on Pinterest.

That is all for today – check back next week for more decorations and Silent Night reflections.

Savoring His Grace,

Teresa

Really, It’s Not About Me (except today, it might be), But, All Is Bright!

Disclaimer:  Keepin’ it real, y’all. An update post of sorts since I’ve been pretty absent lately.  The Christmas spirit has been a slow start for me and You may be subjected to a small pity party, but it does end on a bright note!  Also, I mention Rod Stewart and Jesus both in this post. I think they would be okay with that. 

.2

Rod Stewart is crooning I’ll Have A Blue Christmas in my ear and the dish suds is getting to the point that the dishes better be done soon or we’ll have to have fresh water.  If only I’d done them last night instead of going to Dollar General.  Because mixing dinner dishes with breakfast dishes makes double the “toil and trouble”.

Going to Dollar General (I live in a really small town and it’s a good place to get gift wrapping supplies) was a good thing though, because finally, it was beginning to feel like Christmas.  Nothing like buying empty gift boxes to get you in that Christmas spirit. But then,

I had breakfast dishes to do (at lunch time) because I woke up with a short stab of pain in my head and then felt a little heavy armed and a slight (very slight) numbing sensation in my face.  So, I called my parents to come sit with me awhile just to make sure I was really okay (I’m really not a hypochondriac).  I seem to be okay because we checked my blood pressure and it was close to normal (I am self-diagnosing a pinched nerve, or sinus issues, or more than likely, just plain ole stress) and then I was hungry, hence the breakfast for all of us and the extra dishes. Followed by,

A mishap with the bathroom sink.  I left my Mom (who has Alzheimer’s) in the bathroom with the water running, forgetting that she has trouble turning the facet off.  A few minutes later when she hadn’t appeared and I realized the water was still running I walked in to see the faucet skewed sideways and water running down the counter, over the cabinet front, onto the floor.  Quite a nice puddle.  Yep, she still has her strength, apparently, as the faucet was sideways and is now lose, but still seems to function without leaks.  And, my bathroom floor needed a good mopping anyway.  I was a little frazzled by this turn of events, but tried to reassure her it wasn’t her fault. Lately,

I’ve been way stressed.  Like waking up crying stressed.  Like I want to hibernate from the world stressed. For no apparent, specific reason, but just life in general catching up with me, the depression that lingers longer this time of year and some nagging health related things I need to share with my Doctor when I finally dig my head out of the sand and let him start drawing blood.  But first,

We have to get through Rocky’s Cataract surgery (December 17) and my having to navigate big city traffic on the interstate (my nemesis) since he is having surgery in Louisville. We have known for several months that this was coming soon, but when he saw his Doctor last week she went ahead and scheduled now, during the most ‘hap, happiest season of all,” so that is added to the stress to do list.

Then there is my computer which is in for a check-up as we speak. The prognosis is not good.  Rocky’s also needs some TLC so we are both functioning on a very slow computer, which is nothing to complain about really, in light of more important things.

I am also still playing musical tables at my house and currently have a floater table. She spent two nights ago in the Music room and last night in the Living room.  she is a leggy, restless one that table.  I waffle between sending her away or finding her a place all her own.  Except, therein lies the rub.  We are short on space. I kind of like having her around though due to my inherited thing with tables,  so here we are,

Living in a space with too much furniture and feeling somewhat unorganized which has not been good for my state of mind.  If I have too many things  begging for my attention at once, or too many decisions to be made, I freeze and can’t function. Which is why,

Today, for a little while, everything caught up with me and it did feel like it was about me.  I resisted the urge to cry and started the dish water instead.  Then, after a few moments of searching for the Christmas CD’s, I soaped and rinsed dishes as Rod sang to me.  So, now that I’m armed with clean dishes, my gift boxes and Rod, I think I’ll usher Christmas in quietly, giving myself permission to do no more or no less than I feel up to. Because, as Rod just reminded me, it’a really all about,

“Silent Night, Holy night, All is calm, all is Bright.  Round yon’ virgin, mother and child, Holy Infant, so tender and mild.  Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.”  (click the words to hear Rod sing.)

Holy Infant, tender, peace.  This is all I need to remember.  When the dishes are dirty, when the sink floods, when my computer crashes, when I have to battle traffic, when my head hurts, when my spirit is crushed, when I’m pulled too many directions, when I am chest deep in chaos and the breathing is shallow and the world is closing in, I just close my eyes, breathe in the silent night and remember the Holy Infant.  His tenderness brings peace.

100_0263.2

Peace in the Grace,

Teresa