Thursday, December 13, 2012

Day 2 Random Acts of Christmas Kindness

Day 2 RACK'ed

First things first...  I found this little devotional and feel that it fits perfectly with what I am trying to accomplish!

Therefore, as God’s chosen people,
holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion,

kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Colossian 3:12

I once read a story about an elderly gentleman who carried a can of oil everywhere he went. If he passed through a squeaking door, he poured his oil on the hinges. If a gate’s latch was difficult to open, he oiled it. People called him weird and eccentric, but he pressed on. He refilled his can when it became empty and oiled the rusty and creaky places he found.

Many people around us creak and groan harshly as they face difficulties. Nothing goes right for them. They desperately need healing oil applied to their hurts and troubles.

On the road called life people constantly come and go; some we only encounter once. God help us to be as diligent as the eccentric old man. When we see rough or rusty spots, let’s apply the oil of thoughtfulness. And when our oil runs out, may time spent in prayer refill us to do it again.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, Fill us with your lubricating oil. Open our eyes to the hard places in the lives of those around us so we can apply some kindness, gentleness, and compassion. Use your oil to diminish the jagged edges of many a sin-hardened life, leaving them soft, pliable, and ready to receive your redeeming grace. Amen.

Going deeper: Pray for those who have rusty, hard to open hearts and choose a random act of kindness to perform today.

So today my husband is taking the afternoon off and we are going to "finish" our Christmas shopping! We do this every year and I truly love this time with him.  He is usually right in the spirit with me and I love the sparkle he gets in his eyes! He loves to spoil our children...but since I made this a "handmade Christmas" for the kids exchange...we ourselves are NOT going overboard as we have so many times over the years!~  I will stay strong and keep him in check.

That said... I placed one dollar bills in 6 separate baggies with a little note in them that says "Santa wanted to give you this dollar to help you remember to stay on his nice list! Love, Santa's Helpers" 

My goal is to go into the Dollar Store and place these bags randomly in the toy section.  My hope is that an adult doesn't come and scoop them up... I want to surprise a child...but that's the beauty of this... if an adult does come by and take them.. so be it. Perhaps they are in need of the money!  This is in God's hands.

The second thing I did this morning although this isn't terribly "random" however, I brought a Christmas card over to my neighbor.  She is a very active mom who works a full time job, has 4 kids...and a husband who also works practically more than full time!  Anyways, in the card, I told her that this Saturday. I would like to pick up the 3 kids... take them to lunch and then take them to a movie.  I am also going to bring them to my home and make a couple gifts for their mom and dad... but I didn't tell her that! :-)  She was delighted!  So this will hopefully give the parents some time to finish shopping or just to sit in the silence and enjoy some time to themselves! I remember being a busy mother when my children were small, and believe the gift of time may just be the best gift of all during this season.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

RACK'ed Day One

Okay, well I started my Random Acts of Christmas Kindness today!!  I figured then I can get the full 12 days in and enjoy Christmas Day with my family!

First thing I did was print off some cute little sheets decribing to recipients what I am doing and why! Here is what I came up with...

I think it aptly describes my mission!!

1.  My first stop was our local medical center.  I filled a basket with 55 silky, pretty scarves with one of my notes folded with a "To the Jill
Chatterson Chemotherapy Unit"  Which is just what it says - established upon this very brave and beautiful woman's end to a gallant fight against cancer!  She was a friend and mother and wife.  And, she is still missed! 

I hope that these bring comfort and maybe a little joy to someone's day... during a very difficult time!

2. Next.. I stopped at the Save A Lot grocery Store to buy some candy canes to include with my little "gifts".  (I wasn't able to get a picture because there were some people that were checking out at the register, so I needed to be speedy!)  So I took some little snack size bags and placed my notes, a candy cane and a few quarters in each.  Then I taped them to those cute little "toy dispensers" that little kids love to stop at ...but sometimes mom is just too busy too wiped out or without quarters.  Hopefully some little one gets to have a little fun and a little prize.

3.  My next stop was at the local photo shop at Walgreens!  I needed to pick up my Christmas cards, and after the clerk got mine I asked her to do me a favor.  I asked her to choose one of the boxes of cards and that I would like to pay for the Christmas Cards.  She was speechless.. and I got a little nervous because this is not my purpose...I don't want recognition.... just to make someone's day and hope that they decide to do something for someone else in return.  Anyway she found one for a woman who just had heart surgery, and she knew she would be thrilled not to mention pay it forward.  Goal accomplished there!  (Ps. Again, no photo... no time and too many nerves!)

4.  Next I purchased several $10 gift cards to the local grocery store, and then went into a stall in the ladies room.  I then taped one of my notes with the gift card taped to it on the back of the door.  I hope someone buys a little something special for their family with it... or that it just helps out a little bit.  I know it isn't much... but hey every little bit helps!
I still have a few of the gift cards left, so I will use those in the future.

5.  Next stop the gas station.  I stopped first at the vacuum cleaner and taped a baggy with a note and 75 cents in quarters for someone to find.

6. Then I stopped at one of the pumps and taped a baggy with a note and $5 in it.

7.  Next I ran to the laundromat/cleaners to pick up my coat.  As I was leaving, I taped another baggy, note and $2 in quarters to two machines to cover a couple of loads of laundry for someone. (no picture, because there were people around... but they didn't see me!)

8.  Then, as I was leaving, I noticed the clerk's car parked outside.  This woman is amazing...and she gives and gives!  So I popped a note and a scratch off lottery ticket to the windshield wiper!

So maybe that wasn't as random as having a stranger find it, but she is so deserving!

9.  Then as I was driving home, I saw a car parked outside on the street of our local factory.  So, I decided to put another lottery ticket on their windshield.  Maybe after a hard day's work this will make their day.

10.  Last but not least... I decided to give our mail carrier a little surprise.  The weather today is good...but we got snow the other day and he delivered in it!  I wrapped a Dove bar in one of the notes and then attached a candy cane and put it on our mail box! I hope he enjoyed his treat and knows how thankful we are for his dedicated hard work!

Okay so today...I feel blessed.  I feel like I accomplished alot, and realize that the next coming days are not going to be about money...I figure at least everyother day - or maybe encorporate a little everyday - I will do alot RACKs that don't require any money or very limited money.  Bake cookies and take them to the assited living center, take some cards to elderly neighbors who I know don't get out and visit with them for awhile.... oh the ideas running through my head! This means so much to me!


Tomorrow, December 13 starts my 12 Days of Christmas!  Where I will try to make a difference in my little part of the world through Random Acts of Kindness.  I have wanted to do this for many years, and with cutting back a bit on my Family Gifts this year, feel this is the year to implement my plan of attack.

I encourage you to try as well.  Each day I will post my ideas for making a difference for that day...and then, will come back and tell you about my experience as well as any photos I may be able to get.

I also would love to hear from you on your experiences!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Couple photos of our first snowfall!

 The first snowfall always has a certain magic to it!  Of course, that is the FIRST the end of February... not so much!
 I love the way the snow sticks to the tree branches.  It is so pretty...almost peaceful!
 Definitely beginning to look like Christmas! Better get my shopping done on that note! 

Secret Santa Exchange...

 So I participated in a Secret Santa Christmas Exchange with my "Country Sampler Forum" Friends on Facebook!  And, my oh my, I received my goodies on Friday! This is the loot above!!

 This adorable old suitcase (looks like it probably was a ladies makeup case) was filled with so many surprises! I just couldn't contain my excitement with each discovery!
 This little rusty tin was even inside the suitcase, with yes, you guessed it...more surprises inside with the wax gingerbread man and acorn...and a very cool old bottle that reminds me of my grandpa who collected bottles way way back in the day!  Interestingly enough, the person I had for my Secret Santa collects "Purple Sun Glass"... I had an old ink bottle that was purple sun glass from my grandpa's collection.  I included that bottle in her gift... ironic that I received a bottle back in return! 
Even the box was "packed" with a variety of pinecones! I am going to dip them in scented wax and place them in a big basket in the family room!

Well, Christmas is definitely on its way!

Today, I am going to do some decorating! I will post pictures soon!  What is your favorite Christmas decoration in your home??

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I wonder how many of you have trick or treating on the actual day of Halloween??  Here in my little neck of the woods in Wisconsin they always have it the last Sunday in October from 3-5 last Sunday it was! 

We live on what is considered the "main street" in our town... and it has all the big, beautiful Victorians, etc... mine is not a big Victorian...but it is my favorite house in the city!! It is a Lanon Stone "cape cod" which reminds me of home back in Massachusetts! Anyways... we get inundated with trick or treaters!  All the kids from the country come in and start on our street!

So, I bought 750 pieces of candy... and placed it in my  3 1/2 x 2 1/2 foot basket that I tradionally use each year! It's a lovely basket - I have always used it to put presents in for my children's birthdays and graduation parties...etc.  It's funny - some of the little toddlers in years past have actually climbed in and sat in the basket of candy!  Too cute!  But, anyways, here's my issue... we ran out of candy in just over a 1/2 an hour!!!  Giving out one piece each... we ran out!  Now, the thing is - it isn't just little kids trick or treating! I have TONS of parents with babies in strollers taking candy - (okay, that child will not be eating any candy mom and really???) - And, high school teenagers who are far too old to be trick or treating - taking handfuls of candy - and running off laughing - "haha I feel too old to be trick or treating"!  - because you are! I mean seriously, if you are old enough to go to Party City and buy an "adult" costume that frankly is innappropriate at best to be worn at anything other than a Halloween Party - not walking down the street, you are probably too old to be trick or treating.  Then, I have the adults/parents walking with their children with their OWN bags - reaching in and taking candy!!  REALLY??  SERIOUSLY?? 

What happened to the fun of kids trick or treating??  When did it become a hoarding fest??  I mean, okay, I paid about $60 for the candy... not alot of money in the big scheme of things... but... because of the greed of people who are too old, or too greedy, we had to close our door and shut our lights off and not hand out to the little ones.  My daughter offered to run to the store and buy more... but I said no because I just wanted no additional part to it!

Next year?? Hmm... am I really becoming the scrooge of Halloween??  Bah Humbug!

Monday, October 8, 2012

I'm Back....

Dear Friends, 

It seems like so long since I have been here.  I took a part time job a few months back... and that immediately became a streesful fulltime job!  After many worried, sleep free nights, my sweet husband and I decided that my place is at home.

So, that makes me officially back - crafting, cooking, getting inspired and most importantly - taking care of my family! Although my children are all essentially adults - my youngest is 18 and living in a dorm at college - they all still need me.  And, I need to nurture and create a peaceful home for them to come home to. 

My husband is still my favorite person in the world! He makes me so happy, and I only hope I make him feel the same way. 

As for my crafting - today I am making some cute prim stockings.  I will post pictures and directions tomorrow... until then have a wonderful day!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Mason Jar Monday! ~ Teacher's gifts

Today I am working on Teacher's Gifts with Mason Jars
Layered Mocha Coffee Mix ~ Yumm


Qt. Size Mason Jar
1/2 c. Powdered Non Dairy Creamer
1 c. Mini Chocolate Chips
1/4 c. Powdered Sugar, sifted
2 T. Vanilla Powder
2 c. Non Fat Dry Milk Powder
2/3 c. Instant Coffee


Combine Non Dairy Creamer, Vanilla Powder, Powdered Sugar and Dry Milk Powder together in a bowl.  Take turns layering the milk mixture, chocolate chips and the coffee crystals.  Tap between each layer to help settle the contents.

Make cute gift tags with the following instructions for making a yummy cup of mocha!

For each cup add 1/4 c of mix to mug, and pour 2/3 c boiling water and stir! Enjoy

I give these to lots of my kid's teachers and their aides.  Who doesn't love a nice cup of mocha??

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Had to Share...

I had to share a story with you about my daughter and our broom! She came into the kitchen and said, mom all these people on Facebook are standing their brooms up all by themselves. She grabbed our broom and gall darn it, it stood up all by itself!  

You have to try this! It's very cool!  

We were able to do it both of the two brooms we have in our house! 

Spring Equinox??

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday's Feast... Chicken & Chourico Casserole

Chicken & Chourico Casserole

Yumm!  This is comfort food!

Chop skinless, boneless chicken breasts into 1-2 inch pieces and place into a buttered casserole dish.  Slice Chourico (can use chorizo also) into 1 inch slices too and add to chicken.  You can now add quartered red potatoes or sometimes I add a bag of frozen broccoli & cauliflower normandy.  Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Now, top with sliced cranberry white chedddar cheese.  Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes and enjoy!!

I served it with Grilled Napa Cabbage with a hot mustard dressing!

Quarter a large head of Napa Cabbage down the center keeping the center stem part intact to hold together.  Brush with olive oil and S&P.

Heat your grill.

For dressing: 
1/3 cup Hot Chinese Mustard (more or less to your taste)
2 T agave nectar (more or less to your taste)
1 T olive oil 
Salt & Pepper

Place cabbage on your grill and keep an eye so as not to burn it.  Cook until it has nice grill marks.  Place on a platter and spoon dressing over.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thursday Tip of the Day! Bobby Pin Holder

First off.... Whoa! Have I been gone for awhile or what??!!  After a serious bout with pneumonia, I am back! I hope all of you are well, and are getting ready for Spring!  I have lots of projects planned to share with you! 

Today's Post is about those nasty little bobby pins that end up EVERYWHERE in my house! Being a mother of three girls... I have had to deal with these for quite sometime. I am sure those of you with teenage daughters know just what I am talking about!!!  

I used to throw them out when I would see them on the floor, the vanity in the bathroom, the kitchen, the living room coffee table, the dining room table, the chairs and sofa... etc!  Well, then I would have to just replace those the next time I went shopping.  Come to think of it, I should have made THEM replace them! lol

Here is a clever little idea to keep them in one place and out of my vacuum cleaner!  

I took a piece of self adhesive magnet strip, and stuck it to the mirror in the bathroom.  Now when they take out there bobby pins, they have a spot to put them.  And, actually, it has taken care of most of the issue.  Although occasionally, I still see them here and there, but the girls like knowing where to find them, so they are usually pretty good about placing them back there. 

So, I call that a success! 

Blessings to you all, it feels so good to be back! 

Friday, February 3, 2012

And the Winner is... for my first Giveaway for 2012

And the winner is... Here are all the names in the basket.  

Shake, Shake, Shake

My daughter choosing the winner...

~Beth at Sugar & Spice~

Congratulations Beth! I will get your package ready to go!

Friday's Feast... Super Bowl Snacks!

So... what are you having at your Super Bowl Party?

Some of the yummies we are having...

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Take a couple boneless chicken breasts, put in a pan and cover with water.  I usually season the water with salt and pepper and some garlic.  Boil until the chicken is cooked.  Shred chicken and place back in pan.  Add 3/4 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce, 1 8 oz. pkg of cream cheese, and about 1 cup Ranch Dressing.  Stir to combine, and then add about 3/4 cup shred cheddar to the mix.  Pour into a baking dish, and place 1 cup shred cheddar on top.  Bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until hot and bubbling.

Serve with celery sticks, crackers, tortilla chips.  

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Halve jalapenos, and remove seeds. (may be easier to wear gloves to do this) Take 8 oz. pkg cream cheese, and spread about 1  to 1 1/2 TB of cream cheese inside jalapeno, top cream cheese with finely shred sharp cheddar, and then wrap the jalapeno with 1/2 a slice of bacon. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees until bacon is done to your liking. We like ours, crispy.

"Bogus" Cheese Dip
Named such because my hubby said it looks "bogus" but tastes amazing, years ago.

Take 1 block of sharp white cheddar cheese (I use Cracker Barrel Vermont White)  and cut into pieces and place in a baking dish.  Chop one onion finely, and place in with the cheese.  Add 3/4 cup mayonnaise to the mixture and stir to combine.  Add a couple of sprigs of fresh or dried rosemary.  Bake at 375 degrees until browned and bubbly.

Serve with celery, broccoli, crackers ... good Lord, you serve this with just about anything and it will taste good! 

Tomato Salsa with Cucumber "Chips".

And for me... who is trying to lose weight and get healthy... Fresh Salsa with cucumber "chips"

Finely chop about 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, toss with 1/2 cup finely chopped onions, 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro, 1 small jalapeno, chopped and seeded, about 2 TBS fresh lime juice and  season with salt and pepper.  Serve with sliced cucumbers.

 Oh there will be more food, but there are a couple recipes for you to enjoy! 


Monday, January 16, 2012

Mason Jar Monday ~ Oil Lamps!

Today we are going to make super cute Mason Jar Oil Lamps.

You can make this wintery by using pine cones, greenery, berries, holly, etc. or you can put shells, flowers, fruit, etc for a spring/summer look.

I have seen these here and there and figured they can't be too hard to make... and I was right!  They are so easy and versatile.

All you need is:

Mason Jar
Lamp Oil from Walmart or the Hardware Store
A drill to make a hole in the lid
Lamp wick with glass sleeve (Michaels, Hobby Lobby or online at the

First, you are going to remove your lid.  Take an old piece of scrap wood and place your lid on top of it.  Now drill a hole in the center of your lid.  Insert the glass wick.  If your wick doesn't fit you may need to widen the hole a bit, I used a large nail.

Now fill your jar with whatever lovely items you would like.  Potpourri, Pine Cones, Greenery, Cranberries, Nuts, Lemons and Limes, Flowers, Glass Beads, etc.  

Now fill your jar up with the Lamp Oil and put your lid on and light.  

So pretty and so simple.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday's Feast ~ Beef Short Ribs

Beef Short Ribs... Yumm! It's whats for dinner tonight.  This is a big favorite of my family, I hope you enjoy it too!

  • 6 beef short ribs, trimmed of fat
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 small fennel, fronds, stems, and core removed, large-diced
  • 1 leek, cleaned and large-diced, white part only
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (2 onions)
  • 4 cups large-diced celery (6 large stalks)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and large-diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle dry red wine
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 6 cups beef stock

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the short ribs on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven and add the fennel, leek, onion, celery and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and wine, bring to a boil and cook over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Place rosemary and thyme in the pot.
Place the roasted ribs on top of the vegetables in the Dutch oven and add the brown sugar and beef stock. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Cover the Dutch oven and bake for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.
Carefully remove the short ribs from the pot and set aside. Discard the herbs and skim the excess fat. Cook the vegetables and sauce over medium heat for 20 minutes, until reduced. Put the ribs back into the pot and heat through. Serve with the vegetables and sauce.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy Thursday... A New Giveaway for 2012!!

I've decided to have my first Giveaway of 2012!!
I figured what a great way to start off the new year!

So, whatcha got in that giveaway, you ask?? 

1.  An adorable Prim Sheet complete with twig legs!! Who knows if I get crafty, I may make a super cute prim wreath for his neck. 

2. A little pin keep, make do - thingamabobber.  (I am participating in a Quilt Square Swap on Country Sampler Forum, so I am practicing my sewing skills!) :-)

3.  Six precious little Valentine Postcard Ornies.  Here is a closer up photo for you to see those adorable cherubs!

4.  A wonderful scented candle called 1821!

Rules for the Giveaway

Forgot to mention that the giveaway will end on January 28th. 

Leave a comment to this post... Please be a follower... new followers are ALWAYS welcome.

If you share my Giveaway on your blog, I will enter you twice.

That's it, pretty simple.  

Thanks for visiting today.

Hugs, Laura 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tuesday Tutorial... Jute Decorative Balls

Jute Balls

Today I am making a bunch of these cool jute balls.  I have seen them all over the place in potpourri, in old wooden bowls, in cool cloches, etc.  I also was thinking of making some with brightly colored leftover yarns for Easter Decorations for my Easter tree or to hang in windows.  

Okay, for this you will need:

Jute or Yarn of choice
Saran Wrap
Craft Glue

Okay, first blow up your balloons to the size you want your balls to be... I think doing both small and large is a good idea to get some variation.

Next, mix your glue with equal parts water.  I put my glue/water mixture into a 9 x 13 glass pan.  Cover your work space with the newspaper for protection. 

Now, cut a long piece of jute or yarn and place into your glue mixture and allow to soak for a few minutes, and then pull it out sort of squeezing the excess off. Now wind it around your balloon in random directions to give it a varied look.

Allow them to dry well on saran wrap.  When the tops feel dry to the touch, turn them over so that the whole things dries thoroughly.  Once completely dry, pop the balloon, and remove through the holes.

And voila, you are done! So, so simple, yet adorable! Don't you agree?

Pinned Image

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mason Jar Monday ~ Champagne Sake Mojito

Okay, I know the holidays are over, but we had some leftover champage... and neither my husband nor I drink it plain.  So, I found this clever take on it and since we love mojitos, thought we would give it a try.

You will need...
Mason Jar of course to serve...
1 bottle of Champagne (we used a dry Champagne)
1 bottle of Sake (we had about 3/4 of a bottle leftover, so we used that)
1 large bunch of mint leaves
fresh juice from 4 limes
2TB sugar or liquid sweetener

First, tear off all the mint leaves and place in the bottom of a large pitcher.  Also, place the sweetener of your choice and the lime juice in the container.  Take the back of a wooden spoon and press against the mint leaves to muddle them with the juice and sweetener.  Next pour the champagne and sake in and stir well. Pour over ice in your mason jars.