Thursday, December 1, 2011

HEARTH AND HOME - December 1, 2011/Gifts In a Jar

Gingerbread House From 2009

Greetings, Dear Ladies! And welcome to the first of two, BIG Christmas issues of HEARTH AND HOME!

What a joyous season Christmas is when one knows and celebrates the true meaning of the holiday season! This year our family continues to turn its focus away from the world's commercialized rendition of Christmas and return to the foundation of whence Christmas came. Praise be unto our Lord Jesus Christ as, once again, we celebrate His virgin birth!

Now, grab a cup of something hot (tea, coffee, or, perhaps even, hot chocolate) and let's get started on this wonderful holiday issue of HEARTH AND HOME! I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together for you!


* Clean dirty glass Christmas ornaments by wiping them with a used fabric-softener sheet. It not only cleans, but it repels dust, too!
* Use a melon baller to measure cookie dough. It’ll be easier to scoop, and all the cookies will be the same size (use pan spray to keep dough from sticking, if necessary).
* To keep bows from being squashed when shipping Christmas packages in the mail, turn a margarine tub or a berry box upside down over the bow before packing the wrapped gift inside the shipping box.
 * Before spraying artificial snow on windows, spray the window with a light mist of cooking spray. The snow will wipe right off when the holidays are over!
* Before mixing a cake, spray beaters with cooking spray. Batter won’t cling, giving you more cake and less cleanup!
* When making caramel corn or popcorn balls, pour the popped corn into one big bowl. After shaking it a bit, the unpopped kernels drop to the bottom. Transfer the fluffy corn to another big bowl, then proceed with the recipe. There will be no unpopped kernels in your holiday treats!
* When melting bulk chocolate or almond bark to coat candies, fruit or pretzels, try using your slow cooker. It keeps the chocolate warm for repeated dips.
 * To clean blender quickly and easily, fill the blender half full with hot water, add a drop of dishwashing liquid, cover and blend on high for 10-15 seconds. Then rinse with hot water and air-dry. 
* To eliminate flyaway hair in cold weather, simply rub your brush with a fabric-softener sheet before doing your hair. 
* Melt chocolate chips the quick and easy way…in the microwave! Place chips in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on HIGH for 1 minute; stir. If they’re not melted, heat in 10-second intervals, stirring after each, until smooth.
 * When stringing popcorn, cranberries, or beads, try using waxed dental floss. It’s stronger than thread and everything will glide right on.  Also, stale popcorn is easier to string. This can be achieved by popping the corn  and letting it set a day or two before stringing.
* For a quick place card, paint each guest’s name on a pretty glass ornament and tie a ribbon on top.
* Restore the luster to the wax of a partially burned candle by buffing it with an old pair of pantyhose.
* Don’t have pastry bags and cake decorating tips? Decorate holiday cakes and cookies by piping the frostings from plastic food storage bags with the corners cut out.
* If you run short of brown sugar for your holiday, or other, baking, just mix 1/2 cup regular white sugar with one tablespoon of molasses, this mix will make 1/2 cup of brown sugar.  


* Shop the day after Christmas. Take advantage of post-Christmas specials to buy gifts for those you know you won’t see until after December 25.
* If you’re hosting the family get-together at your house this year, have a potluck dinner. As hostess supply the main dish…the turkey for example…then have everyone else bring the side dishes and desserts.
* Inexpensive napkin rings can be made by cutting narrow sections from an empty paper towel roll, then covering with gift wrap, ribbon, or yarn.
* Make your own gift baskets. Include small jars of jams and jellies, specialty coffees and cookies. Here’s a great idea for something along that line: Purchase cheap white or decorative coffee mugs. Place a packet of hot cocoa mix in each one. In Saran Wrap, add 3-4 mini marshmallows, a couple of Hershey’s plain kisses and a small candy cane. Using ribbon, attach this poem to the handle of the cup:

Snowman Soup

Was told you've been real good this year
Always glad to hear it.
With freezing weather drawing near
You'll need to warm the spirit.
So here's a little snowman soup
Complete with stirring stick,
Add hot water, sip it slow
It's sure to do the trick.



What an informative issue (2nd of the month)!  I have a couple tips to share: 1) If you want stuffing to taste like it was in the turkey (nice and soft), cook on low in the slow cooker; 2) Another tip for children and young people is to go to and you can make all kinds of word puzzles for kids (including scrambled Bible verses).  The "parent" website for Puzzlemaker is or just "Google" Puzzlemaker.  It's not hard to find.  I use this when I'm going to be teaching near Thanksgiving.  It's usually a "fun day" before they let out for Thanksgiving Break.  This keeps them occupied.  It's also nice for Sunday School classes or junior church.  I often use it for Bible story reinforcement or word searches (i.e. Books of the Bible, Patriarchs of the Bible (Matriarchs too). 

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to everyone!


(Thanks for sharing, Annette! You are always such a blessing and encouragement to me! :)


(Taken from the "15 Minute Home and Family Organizer" by Emilie Barnes.)

By Thanksgiving at the latest (I know it's a little late for that, but it's not TOO late for those of us who haven't started yet!), realistically estimate how much you can afford to spend. Then, make out a list of people to whom you want to give gifts, what you would like to buy for each person, along with the approximate price of the item. A quick total may show that you must scale back on the amount spent for each person or trim the number of people on your list. Take the list with you when you shop and stick to it!

Don't forget to budget for the "hidden costs" of Christmas. These include tree decorations, gift wrap, Christmas cards, and postage, and any entertaining you do.

To avoid being haunted by the ghosts of Christmas credit past, use cash or a check whenever possible. Using cash slows down your spending and forces you to weigh your purchases more carefully.

If you must use charge cards, clip half an index card to the back of the credit card. Each time you use it, enter the amount of your purchase on the index card and keep a running total, so that you are continually aware of how much you will have to come up with when the bills start rolling in during January.

Say no to holiday charge accounts that allow you to buy now and delay payment until February (unless you have assured bonus or other cash reserve coming to cover your bill). The allure of "free money" is a trap you would be wise to avoid.

Ensure that you will be able to do next year's buying in cast by estimating how much your Christmas spending will be, dividing that amount into 12 monthly allotments, and then setting aside that amount each month in either a Christmas club or a money market account.


"Christmas will be as special or as ordinary as you make it. You can be the architect of memories your children will carry with them for years-memories that will not only strengthen family bonds, but will also deepen their spiritual ties." ~Emilie Barnes


* When making snack mixes for Christmas gift giving, try packaging them in resealable plastic bags that have holiday prints on the outside. Be sure to include the recipe inside of the bag.

*For the babysitter try filling a merry mug with this recipe for Teddy S'more Bark or wrap it in cellophane and tie with a ribbon.


2 pkg. (16 sq.) Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate
1 cup Teddy Grahams
1 cup miniature marshmallows

Microwave chocolate in microwavable bowl on HIGH for 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in 3/4 cup each of Teddy Grahams and marshmallows into bowl with chocolate. Spread on waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Decorate with remaining grahams and marshmallows. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces. Make 15 servings (4 1-inch pieces per serving)

* For the photography buffs and scrapbookers on your list how about giving a disposable camera and a couple for free film developing.

* A phone card or postage stamps slipped in a card is always a welcome gift...especially for those who are away from home for the holidays.

* Make tasty treats by dipping plastic spoons into melted chocolate, sprinkling crushed peppermint candies over them as they harden on waxed paper. Wrap in cellophane, tie a ribbon and place several in a mug with hot cocoa packets.

* For the children on your list...try this:



3 cups flour
1 1/2 cup salt
6 teaspoons cream of tartar
3 cups water
3 tablespoons oil
peppermint extract


1. Combine all ingredients together in a saucepan.
2. Cook over medium heat until mixture pulls away from side of pan.
3. Be sure to stir constantly.
4. Knead and add color if desired.

This concoction will last up to three months in the refrigerator, if kept in an airtight container.


(Taken from the "15 Minute Home and Family Organizer" by Emilie Barnes.)

"This tradition is probably the sweetest and most meaningful of all. A good friend of ours, Janet Patton from northern California, provided us with a home-built manger, that includes straw and a baby Jesus wrapped in meshed cloth.

As you build a "worship center" on a table in plain view for the whole family, have the following poem written using calligraphy and framed. Place this next to the manger:

With excitement we anticipate the special Christmas morn.
Rejoicing daily that our Christ child soon will be born. 

We'll spread our love throughout our home by preparing a cozy bed. A bed of straw to place his tiny little head.

As each day passes throughout the month we'll add a piece of straw for special love we've spread to one another, 
special little gifts or deeds and fun surprises to each other.

What fun our family will enjoy as we spread our love around.
On Christmas morn with joy and glee, we'll celebrate the Christmas tree. But most of all rejoice with praise the birthday of our King!

Everything is displayed except Baby Jesus. Hide Him away, but be sure to remember where. Next to the empty manger is a pile of straw cut into six-inch pieces. Beginning the first week in December, we gather as a family and talk about the manger and straw. Every day each member of the family does a good deed on his or her own, such as sharing toys happily or taking out trash without being asked. Then everyone puts a piece of straw in the manger. This can be done at the end of each day. Make sure to talk about the happiness you have given to one another.

As the month continues, the straw in the manger grows, and soon a cozy bed of straw fills the manger. Still no Baby Jesus appears. On Christmas Eve, after all the children are nestled in their beds and asleep, Mom and Dad will find Baby Jesus and place Him in His rightful spot. Straw or no straw, Baby Jesus always appears. Some years the manger may not be real cozy, but we have found that December is the best month of all for good behavior. Watch the excitement as the children race on Christmas morning to see if Baby Jesus has arrived. They head straight for the manger even before looking under the tree. Why? Because during the month we have been focusing on the real meaning of Christmas: Jesus' birthday."


The following poem was sent to me years ago by my youngest daughter, Amanda...


There's a song in the air!
    There's a star in the sky!
There's a mother's deep prayer
    and a baby's low cry!
And the star rains fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

There's a tumult of joy
    O'er the wonderful birth,
For the virgin's sweet boy
    Is the Lord of the earth.
Ay! The star rains it's fire, and the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

In the light of that star
    Lie the ages imperiled;
And that song from afar
    Has swept over the world.
Every hearth is aflame, and the beautiful sing
In the homes of the nations that Jesus is King.

We rejoice in the light,
    And we echo the song
That comes down through the night
    From the heavenly throng.
Ay! We shout to the lovely evangel they bring,
And we greet in His cradle our Savior and King.

~~Author Unknown, Circa 1880s


(Taken from the "15 Minute Home and Family Organizer" by Emilie Barnes.)

"Many families have established the Advent wreath as a wonderful tradition during their Christmas season. Here are some guidelines you may want to use:

1. Make a wreath using straw, evergreens, ribbon, etc., and place four red candles and one white candle around it.
2. Fourth Sunday before Christmas-Light the first red candle. Share Isaiah 2:1-5; 11:1-9; 40:3-11 showing the coming of the Messiah.
3. Third Sunday before Christmas-Light the second red candle. Share Luke 1:26-56 and Isaiah 7:13, 14 telling of the mother of Jesus.
4. Second Sunday before Christmas-Light the third red candle. Share Luke 2:8-20, telling about the shepherds and angels. Share Matthew 2:1-12, telling about the wise men.
5. Last Sunday before Christmas-Light the fourth red candle. Share Matthew 2:13-23, telling of the flight into Egypt.
6. On Christmas Eve-Light the white and last candle. You may enjoy reading the Christmas story found in Luke 1:26-38 and Luke 2: 1-20. Let the candles continue to burn until bedtime.
7. Rejoice! It's the birthday of the King who says, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12).

Involve the whole family and take turns lighting and blowing out the candles. we believe this celebration of Christmas is pleasing to the Lord. It has taught our children the meaning of Christmas and helps us all to remember His birth and feel His presence in our homes."


Fireproof your Christmas tree and safeguard your family by trying these ideas:
* Fill your tree stand with hot water. Believe it or not, hot water (about 100 degrees F.) will keep the tree moister and penetrate the roots better so it won’t dry out and burn easily.
* Give your tree the branch test. Bend the branches before you buy.  If they bend easily, it’s a fresh tree. If they break, it’s too dry…which means it’s flammable and you shouldn’t buy it.
* If you’re getting an artificial tree, choose one that is labeled as fire-resistant. Artificial trees with built-in electrical systems should have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label. Avoid metallic trees…they are extremely flammable.
* Place the tree in the coolest part of the room and keep it away from your fireplace and other heat sources. Sparks from a fireplace or woodstove can fly long distances and just one spark can cause your tree to erupt in seconds.
* Choose plastic over metallic decorations. Metallic icicles and tinsel are pretty, but they’re extremely combustible.
* Avoid buying live trees too early. They aren’t meant to be indoors, so there is a small window of time in which they are safe inside before they dry out making them extremely flammable. Unless you buy your tree just days before Christmas, it will dry out too soon to keep into January. So buy your tree late or discard it just after Christmas.
* When you get ready to discard your tree take it to a nearby conservation agency or some other spot that collects them for recycling. By sinking them in ponds Christmas trees make great hiding spots and breeding grounds for fish.


(The following article was posted to my pastors' wives group back in November of 2002, but I thought that there was some very good information contained in it that is timeless. I hope that you enjoy it!)

Seven Ways To Be Good Stewards of our Holiday Time
by Cheryl R. Carter

The holiday season can be most hectic. Chaos tends to reign even in the most reverent Christian homes. There are places to go, gifts to be brought, programs to plan and people to see- all with ominous deadlines. Yet, in this hubbub of activity, we must be careful not to lose sight of evangelistic opportunities. Now is the time of year when people talk about Jesus and people are open to hear about Jesus. We, as Christians must be wise. We need to be careful to guard our peace so that we can be good stewards. Being a good steward of our time during the holiday involves seven crucial elements.

(1) Establish Meaningful Traditions

Traditions are the cornerstone of relationships. In fact, traditions give testimony to the importance of relationships. Jesus, Himself established the ritual of communion. When we take communion we are reminded of Jesus' love and sacrifice for us. It is also a time to reflect upon our commitment to Him. Communion forces us to stop all the activity in our lives and to consider our ways. The communion table also affords us numerous benefits including healing, restoration and renewal. We need to know these benefits. Likewise the holiday traditions we establish should bring us closer to the ones we love and value. They should know the benefits of the tradition. We also need to look at the negative traditions we are creating in our families by the constant running from one holiday event to the other. Make certain you know the purpose for every holiday event you attend. Also be sensitive to when it is time to create new memories. You can establish a new tradition this year like sitting down and reading the bible and sharing insights with your family. Spend more time with your family, establish a new family tradition this year!

(2) Monitor Your Holiday Schedule

The holiday season for Christians is full with so much activity. You should be particularly diligent about guarding your time with your family, God and yourself. Too many of us fill our calendars with "good" Christian activities
instead of considering what is "best". Our time with the Lord should especially be guarded this holiday season. In addition, we need to be mindful of over-commitment. Mothers are particularly vulnerable with so many Christmas pageants, plays and parties to attend. It is okay to say "no". Be prayerfully about your schedule. Make sure you have time for yourself so you can be full of the spirit and therefore able to share it with others.

(3) Be Wise With Your Body

Besides time, God expects us to be good stewards of our bodies because God operates in this physical realm via our physical bodies. We are His temple! We are His shining lights this holiday season. Most of us tend to over-burden our bodies during the holiday season. We demand the impossible of ourselves while not getting adequate sleep or rest. Then we indulge in all the wrong foods. We are no testimony when we do not care for ourselves physically because our spiritual growth should be reflected in outward physical appearance. We
therefore should be mindful of good health habits this holiday season. Remember we are representing our king!

(4) Stay On Budget

If you do not have a budget, the holiday season is an excellent time to acquire one. Decide in advance how many you will spend. Be creative with gift giving. You can give the gift of your time or make a craft. You need not spend a lot of money. Sometimes the materialistic mindset of the world seeps into the church. We are particularly vulnerable to give our children too much. It is a good idea to let children realize the blessings they enjoy. A friend has his daughters accompany him while he delivers toys to inmates' children (for Chuck Colson's Angel Tree Ministry). Reach out to those around you this season. Give generously to others. Also, remember you can start planning this year for next year by gradually purchasing gifts for others throughout the year.

(5) Set the Standard

You must set the standard for the holiday celebrations for the unbelievers around you. The character of Jesus should reign at even the most illicit office party. In addition, your convictions and behavior should motivate others to see Christ. Now is not the time to slack up in your Christian walk. Now is the time to become so on fire for the Lord that others will beg you to tell them more about Jesus. Remember also you cannot win anyone to Jesus until you win them to yourself. Be friendly but firm in your Godly convictions.

(6) Re-commit Your Life And Family to Christ

Christmas time is a great time to re-commit your life and your family back to the Lord. See it as renewing your vows. Likewise unbelievers may follow you and make new commitments to the Lord. Children really understand the concept of re-commitment at Christmas time. Come together and pray and stand as a family
and re-commit your lives to Christ together. Make a pact to hold one another accountable, because iron sharpens iron. Friends, ministries, and businesses can do this by joining with others. Make sure 'Jesus is the reason for the season' does not become a cliche in your life this holiday season. Make certain He remains your living Lord.

(7) Celebrate Jesus

Celebrating Jesus and His Gift of giving the world another New Year is indeed a reason to rejoice. In fact, we should celebrate more than the unregenerate because we know what is the glorious hope of our salvation. We know we can never re-pay God for the gift of His Son, or for the indwelling of the precious Holy
Spirit. We know this all year round. We celebrate our special relationship with the Lord. As others behold our joy, peace and utter contentment they are drawn to Jesus. As Jesus is lifted up this holiday season He will draw people to Himself. Prayerfully, consider how you will celebrate Jesus this season because a dying world is watching and waiting.

I pray that all have an anointed holiday season and a Spirit-filled New Year. May we all grow in grace that the meditations of our heart, the words of our mouth and plans of our mind be inspired by God Himself. May we be wise stewards of our time, our talents and our treasury. Let's take 2012 for Jesus!



- Put up a manger scene on the front lawn.

- Place a creche on a table in your entryway.

- Look for ornaments that express the true meaning of Christmas, and add to the collection each year.

- Look for wrapping paper that features angels or a manger scene.


- Use lots of lace, doilies, satin and velvet all over the house.

- Find old dolls and toys at flea markets and display them on mantels, in windows, and in hutches.

- Buy antique Christmas cards (or facsimilies). Use them to make placecards, elegant ornaments and mantel decorations.

- Wrap gifts in satin or moire fabric. Decorate with lace ribbon and baby's breath.


- Hollow out oranges and fill them with white votives. Tuck these into a flat basket
lined with greenery.

- Arrange holly and boxwood with loops of aspidistra leaves and bright accents of

- Add fruit and whole cinnamon sticks to a white basket filled with pine, variegated
with holly and dusty miller.

- Line a window ledge or diningroom nook with rows of baskets of all shapes and sizes, each filled with an abundance of dried flowers and ribbon streamers.

- Arrange fresh sprays of pine and cedar with green plants from your garden. Tuck in some dried seed pods such as okra and roadside weeds that you've spray-painted red.


- Hang hand-crafted cookie cutters from bright red ribbons of different lengths. Attach
ornament hooks and hang in your window.

- Try sewing calico or gingham fabric to wrap presents. Either fold it as you would
gift wrap, or place the gift on a square of fabric, then gather up diagonally the opposite ends and tie with a ribbon or yarn.

- Place cheery baskets all over the house. Weave some calico-patterned ribbon through the top of each.

- Use an old quilt as a Christmas tree skirt. Cut out pieces of the quilt, then stuff
and hang as ornaments.


- Hang candy canes in different colors on the tree, along wall moldings and from the

- Trim the tree with paper-wrapped candies. Wrap them a second time, if you wish,
with colorful tissue paper.

- Arrange stuffed animals in groups on the landing, on window ledges, or on top of
the piano.

- Let the kids draw on brown paper and use it to wrap gifts.


* Tape-record a conversation, songs, poems, and/or the Christmas story from Luke
2 with your children. Then send the tape to a faraway grandparent or other relative to enjoy for Christmas.

* For the crafter, fill an inexpensive basket with scissors, tacky glue, pre-cut foam shapes, sequins, an assortment of felt pieces, and a hot-glue gun.

* Blow up a favorite photograph and place in an 8 x 10 or a 5 x 7 frame for grandparents and other relatives.

* For the kitchen connoisseur, line a mesh basket with a brightly colored dishtowel. Add a variety of bottled spices from the dollar store.

* Write out your favorite recipes on index cards and put together a package for that special person. For instance, a busy mom would love some quick-dinner ideas, and a dieting friend might like some low-cal meal ideas.

* Pamper someone special who never takes the time to pamper herself. Buy a pair of plain cotton gloves. Add rich hand cream, cuticle oil, an emery board and a couple of trendy nail polish colors, and arrange in a small basin for soaking.

* Help a friend save tiem and money by giving her a well-stocked grocery coupon organizer. Buy a coupon wallet and fill it with a batch of cents off coupons that you probably already have stashed in a kitchen drawer.

* For the gardener in your life, buy a terra cotta plant pot. Decorate the pot with paints. Fill with a small trowel, gardening gloves, seed packets, bug spray, and plant food.

* Give a gift certificate promising to do a chore the person dreads or a service he or she needs. Some suggestions: You could donate a few hours of babysitting for a young mother who'd like a little free time, or promise a month of lawn mowing for an elderly neighbor.

* Indulge a chocolate lover with the best of the best. For a nominal price many companies offer a variety of exquisite gift boxes.

* Treat your favorite children to tickets at the local zoo or amusement park. Wrap them with a written promise to take the child on a Saturday afternoon of his or her choosing.

* Give a letter-writing grandmother a selection of pretty note cards, a pen, and a book of stamps.

* Fill an unfinished wooden box with paints, brushes, crayons, and a ream of paper. Budding child artists can paint and decorate the box and create an art caddy for their supplies.

* Give a friend a casserole dish with three of your no-fail, quick recipes. Or promise to fill it with two dinners in the next two months.

* Buy a gift certificate for two movie passes to your local theater. Wrap with a box of microwave popcorn.

* Clip off a stem cutting from a pretty plant; trim with a bright colored bow and add a card with care instructions.

* How about a restaurant gift certificate?

* Traditional play is all the rage. Give a family a board game, a basketball or football, or a badminton set.

* What about a picture-perfect present? Wrap a disposable camera, a trendy picture frame and a small photo album for under $20.

* Give a family a set of sundae glasses, a bottle of sprinkles, and some hot fudge topping. If the gift will be opened immediately, throw in a pint of specialty ice cream.

* Give an aspiring writer a handsome journal and a classic pen.

* For the couple that entertains, buy a bottle of sparkling grape juice at a grocery store. Add some cheese and crackers, and you've given a party in a box.

* A pound of coffee from a gourmet coffee shop and two interesting mugs from the dollar store make a great gift for any couple to wake up to.

* A plant, a spray bottle, and mini-gardening tools make a creative and long-lasting gift. Add some plant food sticks and still keep within your budget.


 Servings: 4

1/2 cup barley
1/2 cup dried split peas
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1/2 cup dry lentils
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
2 tablespoons beef bouillon granules
1/2 cup uncooked alphabet pasta
1 cup uncooked twist macaroni

1. In a wide mouth 1-quart jar, layer the barley, peas, rice and lentils. Then layer around the edges the onion, parsley, salt, lemon pepper, bouillon and the alphabet pasta. Fill the rest of the jar with the twist macaroni.
2. Seal and attach a gift card.

The gift card should read:  

Add contents of jar to 3 quarts of water, 2 stalks of chopped celery, 2 sliced carrots, 1 cup of shredded cabbage (optional) and 2 cups diced tomatoes. Over medium low heat, cover and simmer about 1 hour, or until vegetables are tender.

Servings: 16

1/2 cup dry split peas
1/3 cup beef bouillon granules
1/4 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup dry lentils
1/4 cup dried onion flakes
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup uncooked alphabet pasta

1. In a 1 1/2 pint jar, layer the split peas, bouillon, barley, lentils, onion flakes, Italian seasoning, rice, and bay leaves. Wrap the pasta in plastic wrap, and place in the jar. Seal tightly.
2. Attach a label to the jar with the following instructions:

Friendship Soup

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS:  1 pound ground beef, black pepper to taste, garlic powder to taste, 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes - undrained, 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste, and 3 quarts water.

TO PREPARE SOUP:  Remove pasta from top of jar, and set aside. In a large pot over medium heat, brown beef with pepper and garlic; drain excess fat. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, and soup mix. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in the pasta, cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pasta, peas, lentils and barley are tender.


(This is the best Gingerbread Cookie recipe that we’ve ever tasted! It came from my friend Pam Spurling ( several years ago and this is what I made up and gave out as gifts a few Christmas’s ago. Enjoy!)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger                                                                 
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
  1. Mix 2 cups of the flour with the baking soda and baking powder. Mix the remaining 1 ½ cups flour with the spices. In a one-quart, wide-mouth canning jar layer the ingredients starting with the flour/baking powder mixture first, and then pack down the brown sugar and finally the flour/spice mixture.
  1. Attach a card to the jar with the following directions:
To Make Gingerbread Cookies
    1. Empty contents of jar into a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
    2. Add ½ cup softened butter, ¾ cup molasses and 1 beaten egg. Mix until completely blended. Mix with your hands because this is a stiff dough. Press together, wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
    3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    4. Roll out dough on a lightly floured board ¼ inch thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutter. Place cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
    5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 to 12 minutes. Decorate with stiff sugar icing if desired.
 (Note: When I made these…I topped the jars with a cute, little gingerbread print material circle and tied with ribbon. I also attached a little gingerbread man cookie cutter. They were a big success!) 

Servings: 36

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


1. Combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a 1-quart wide mouth-canning jar, layer dark brown sugar, white sugar, cocoa, chopped pecans, and chocolate chips. Pack everything down firmly before you add flour mixture, it will be a snug fit.
  1. Attach a tag with the following instructions: 
Chocolate Cookie Mix in a Jar: 

1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)
2.      Empty cookie mix into large bowl. Thoroughly blend mixture with hands. Mix in 3/4 cup softened butter or margarine, 1 egg, slightly beaten, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Shape into walnut size balls, and place 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.
3.     Bake for 11 to 13 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet, then move to wire racks.


1 3/4 cups flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Store the mixture in an airtight container.

Attach this to the jar:

Ginger Spice Muffins
(Makes 1 dozen)

1 pkg. Ginger Spice Muffin Mix
1/4 cup butter or margarine melted
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and grease 12 muffin tins. In a large bowl, combine the muffin mix with the butter, egg, vanilla and milk. Stir the mixture until the ingredients are blended. Do not over-mix. The batter will be lumpy. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full, and bake for 15 minutes. 


A beautifully festive cookie in a jar recipe. These make great gifts. Servings: 18

5/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans


1. Layer the ingredients in a 1 quart or 1 liter jar, in the order listed.
2. Attach a tag with the following instructions: 

Cranberry Hooty Creeks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. 
2. In a medium bowl, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until fluffy. Add the entire jar of ingredients, and mix together by hand until well blended. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets. 
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges start to brown. Cool on baking sheets, or remove to cool on wire racks.


* Fill single gloves with tinsel, greenery, and candy canes and hang them from doorknobs, cabinet knobs, window locks and drawer pulls with festive ribbon.
* Watch a classic Christmas movie like “A Charlie Brown Christmas” with your child.
* Simmer cinnamon sticks, cloves, and orange zest on the stove to fill your home with a festive scent.
* Hang lights on all your hearty houseplants.
* Add candy cane to a mug of steaming hot cocoa.
* To make a nice centerpiece for your holiday table, overfill a glass bowl with red and green apples, silvered pinecones, and gold walnuts. Finish off with a coat of sugar or clear sprinkles (egg whites make a nice adhesive) for a crystallized holiday frost.
* Hang glass, crystal or mirrored ornaments on a chandelier for shimmer.
*Tie medium sized jingle bells to your shoelaces and carry them in your coat pockets. They bring along a merry ting-a-ling wherever you go!
*For added holiday decoration (and this really could be any time of the year for any event) fill the bathtub with water and use holiday floating candles and flowers to light the tub.  Use the iridescent marbles or rocks to put at the bottom of the tub for a decorative bathroom.
 For each angel you will need:
2 teabags (not the kind without tags)
a 5-inch piece of this raffia

Unwrap both teabags. 

Working with the first bag, shake down all of the tea into the bottom of the bag. About 1 inch below the top gather the bag and tie with the raffia, making a bow. Trim ends. Set aside. This makes the head and body of the angel.

Working with the second bag, shake down all of the tea into the bottom of the bag. Cut the tag off of the string and discard tag. Cut the string at the top of the teabag. Lay string aside. You will need it shortly. 

Next, cut the top of the teabag open right below the tiny staple. Empty the contents of the bag completely.  Next laying the bag outstretched completely, fold one end over to the middle, then the other overlapping them slightly. Gather them in the middle and tie with the teabag string, clipping away the long ends. This makes the angel’s wings.

Glue the front of the wings to the back of the body to complete the angel. Allow to dry.
Make plenty of these lovely little angels to hang on the tree, use as gift tags on packages, or simply to share with a friend. 

(NOTE: These are NOT the original instructions. I hope that they are understandable, but if not…if you try making them and need help…e-mail me and I’ll do my best to help you figure them out. They’re really quite simple once you figure out how to make them and they are so cute!)


We spent Thanksgiving at our youngest daughter and son-in-law's this year and we had an absolutely lovely time! Both of our daughters offered delicious dishes as part of the Thanksgiving feast. I’d like to share a couple of those dishes with you here:


2 c. water
¾ c. sugar
3 c. fresh cranberries
1 large pkg. (6 oz) orange-flavored gelatin
1 can (8 ¼ oz.) crushed pineapple in syrup, undrained
½ c. chopped walnuts

Heat water and sugar to boiling in a 2-quart saucepan, stirring occasionally. Boil 1 minute. Stir in cranberries. Heat to boiling; boil 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in gelatin until dissolved. Stir in pineapple and walnuts. Pour into ungreased 6-cup mold or 8 individual molds. Refrigerate at least 6 hours until firm. Unmold onto salad greens, and garnish with sour cream and pineapple chunks, if desired.


Prep Time – 15 minutes
Bake Time – 1 hour


1 ¾ c. graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 stick butter (melted)


24 oz. cream cheese
15 oz. can pumpkin
3 eggs + 1 yolk
¼ c. sour cream
1 ½ c. sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix crust and press into the bottom of a 9” springform pan. Mix filling and beat until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake at 350 degrees until knife comes out clean…about 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.


3/4 lb bulk Italian sausage or ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 cans (15 oz each) Italian style tomato sauce
2 tsp dried basil leaves
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
15 oz container ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
12 uncooked lasagna noodles

Cook sausage and onion in 10 inch skillet over medium heat 6-8 min, stirring occasionally, until sausage is no longer pink; drain.  Stir in tomato sauce and basil.

Mix 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese, the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses.

Spoon 1/4 of the sausage mixture into 3-1/2 to 5 quart slow cooker; top with 4 noodles, broken into pieces to fit.  Top with half of the cheese mixture and 1/4 of the sausage mixture.  Top with 4 noodles, remaining cheese mixture and 1/4 of the sausage mixture.  Top with remaining 4 noodles and remaining sausage mixture.

Cover and cook on low heat setting 6 to 8 hours or until noodles are tender.

Sprinkle top of lasagna with remaining 1 cup mozzarella.  Cover and let stand about 10 min or until cheese is melted.  Cut into pieces. 
Serves 6.


8 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
1 c chopped onion
1 lb smoked sausage
1 t salt
8 oz pizza sauce

Place potatoes in crockpot.  Cut sausage into bite-sized chunks.  Place sausage on top of potatoes.  Add onions and pizza sauce.  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hrs until potatoes are tender.


1 7 3/4 ounce can salmon drained and flaked
1 8 ounce package cream cheese softened
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated onion
1 teaspoon horseradish
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
chopped parsley

Combine all ingredients except parsley. Shape in to a ball. Roll ball in parsley.

Yield 1 cheese ball.


2 ½ cups flour

½ cup sugar

½ cup packed brown sugar

3 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup milk

1 egg

1 ½ cups mashed bananas (3 medium)

1 cup chopped nuts (what I do is ¾ cup nuts; ¼ cup flax seed)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only (or spray with cooking spray) of loaf pan 9x5x3 inches, or 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2x4 1/2x2 ½ inches. Mix all ingredients; beat 30 seconds. Pour into pan(s). Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 9-inch loaf 55-65 minutes; 8-inch loaves 55 to 60 minutes; cool slightly. Loosen sides of loaf from pan; remove from pan. Cool completely before slicing. To store, wrap and refrigerate no longer than 1 week. 


1-boxed spice cake mix
1 can pumpkin
½  cup water
Mix ingredients together and divide into muffin cups. Bake 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Refrigerate. Makes 24.


1 cup butter
½ cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Serve with muffins, toast, bagels, French toast or pancakes. Refrigerate any leftovers. Yield: 1 1/3 cups.


3 cups Rice Chex

3 cups Corn Chex
3 cups Cheerios
3 cups pretzels
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons butter-flavored sprinkles
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon seasoned salt
½ teaspoon onion powder

In a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan, combine cereals and pretzels. Lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray; drizzle with Worcestershire sauce. Combine the remaining ingredients and sprinkle over cereal mixture. Bake at 200 degrees for 1 ½ hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Yield: 3 quarts.


1 jar stemmed cherries (12 cherries), drained very well
Hershey Kisses, wrappers removed (12)
almond bark chocolate or chocolate chips
2.5 oz bag sliced almonds (to be used for the ears)
either small amount of white chocolate melted or tube of red cake
decorating gel (this will to be make the eyes)


1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave.
2. Dip cherry in the melted chocolate, then attach a candy Kiss onto the front of the dipped cherry (the stem is the tail and the point of the Kiss is the nose, of course).
3. Attach two sliced almonds between the flat side of the Kiss and the chocolate covered cherry, one on each side.
4. Dot Kiss with either white chocolate or red decorating gel to make the eyes.
5. Let them cool on wax paper in the refrigerator.

Makes: 12 Christmas Mice


(Our family’s traditional recipe.)

1 c. margarine or butter
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking powder
5 c. flour

Cream butter and sugar together. Add milk, baking powder, salt, eggs, and vanilla. Blend well. Add flour a little at a time until all the flour is mixed in. If dough is sticky, extra flour may be added. Roll dough out about 1/4-inch thick and cut with cutters. Bake at 375 degrees until cookies are slightly browned on the bottom and are a little spongy on top. Ice with Wilton's Buttercream Icing.

    Wilton's Buttercream Icing

1/2 c. shortening
4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. butter or margarine
2 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and shortening with an electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add coloring if desired and beat until mixed evenly. Yield: 3 cups.

Well, Ladies, that’s it for this time! I pray each and every one of you have a wonderful Christmas season and, if all goes as planned, I will post the second BIG issue of HEARTH AND HOME on December 15th.

Until Then…

P. S. - Don't forget to enter the drawing for your chance to win a free copy of Mrs. White's book! To enter click HERE.

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  1. Dear Rebecca,
    I sure liked this post....lots of great info to share.

    God bless you this season.
    Merry Christmas,

  2. Thanks, Deanna! I'm glad to know that you enjoyed it! Merry Christmas to you, too!

    All My Love,


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