October 17, 2013

Thankfulness Tree

We have this gold, um, tree.  Really kinda scanty, but it was a gift from someone.  A priest, actually.  So we couldn't just throw it away.  Instead, we "re-purposed" it and call it our "Thankfulness Tree"!

At Thanksgiving, we decorate the tree with paper leaves on which we write people or things for which we were thankful.

At Christmas, we decorate the tree with paper snowflakes, both simple and elaborate, which (when combined with the requisite hot cocoa!) is a great afternoon togetherness activity for all levels of scissor cutting skills.

At St. Valentine's Day, we cut out hearts and write on them the names of people who love us or whom we love.

The possibilities are endless!

To me, I just love seeing the kids joyfully scampering to add another person or thing in their lives for which they are grateful.  It ain't sunshine and roses around here every day, but the Thankfulness Tree is a tangible reminder of just how truly blessed we are.

If you're interested in finding a Thankfulness Tree, now might be the time to go shopping for one!  If you can get past the more macabre Halloween decorations, some craft or home goods stores might carry amongst their Halloween fare some creepy bare black trees, which easily can be transformed with a coat of gold, white, or happy colored spray paint!


If shopping's not in the budget, make a construction paper tree on the wall or the 'fridge or the back of a door.  Again, the possiblities are endless!

Be blessed!  Be thankful!  And enjoy!

October 8, 2013

The REAL Good Things

If you're anticipating the holidays with as much bursting joy as I am, then take the advice of my wise friend, Liz K.:

Begin now.


Well, I commented to her that, with the coming holidays, I finally would get to use my "good" dishes "at last!"  She smiled and generously shared with me some sage advice from her grandmother:

"Use your special dishes.  All the time.  For your family," she said.  "Otherwise, you'll wait and wait for the 'perfect' occasion to use them.  Meanwhile they'll sit and collect dust and mean nothing to anyone, because hardly anyone has ever seen them!

"Use your special dishes," she said.  "All the time.  For your family.  Because there's no one more special than your family!"

Voila!  Of course!

With how many things do we do this in our lives?  We wait and wait and wait for that magical MOMENT to arrive.  That something special.  Something significant.  Something celebratory!  Something momentous!!!  Meanwhile, we sigh deeply and gaze off into the distance, overlooking the miraculous blessings of moments and times that are happening right beneath our noses.

(....and sometimes we are even wiping their noses.)

So, even though it isn't yet "the holiday season," I'm unearthing a few of my favorite pieces of china, a few serving utensils, a few centerpieces.  Things I had packed away with no intention of using until my youngest child no longer was around to break things was safely out of the house and merely visiting briefly from college.

Ugh.  How sad.  How awful!

Today, I am practicing "use it or lose it."
If we can use it (even gently), it stays.
If it's just taking up drawer space for the sake of distant admiration, it goes.

It ain't easy, this purging of things.  So often, "special" things are made so because of special memories.  But, what better way to honor special memories than to share them and make cherished new ones with the people you love!

So go ahead and put Great Aunt Myra's candy dish out on the table after dinner tonight.  If your children are little, teach them the value of handling things gently, passing at table, and taking good care of what God has given them.  They might just surprise you (and even thereby make your next museum visit a little less harrowing!).

Enjoy and share your "good things" with the people you love.

May your forthcoming holidays be merry and bright!

October 4, 2013

Kitchen Tip

Anyone who knows me knows I am a simpleton in the kitchen, so the littlest tip is a whole new learning experience to me!  Here's the latest:

If you're soaking a pot or other dish to clean off food that's encrusted on it, fill the pot with the hottest water and then set a timer for five minutes.  The timer will remind you to come back and rinse off the dish at the optimal time, without allowing the water to grow cold and the dirt to congeal and make the mess even worse.  (Thank you, Laura B., for this tip!)

Voila!  Quick, cheap, and easy!  And just in time for the holidays.