Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Favorite Molasses Cookies Recipe

How can these be crispy and chewy at the same time??

My Favorite Molasses Cookies Recipe:
Makes 4 dozen+ 2.5" diameter cookies


1 1/2 c. shortening
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. dark molasses

Place the above ingredients into your mixer bowl and mix thoroughly on medium.

Into a separate bowl, measure the following ingredients:
4 c. all-purpose flour
4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 t. ground cloves
1 1/2 t. ginger

As your mixer is running, pour the dry ingredients slowly into the mixing bowl, mixing thoroughly with the shortening, sugar, eggs, and molasses.

Form dough into 1 1/8 inch balls. I use heavy jellyroll pans to bake cookies. Use a good cooking spray to spray the pans, then arrange cookies on pans, about a dozen to a jellyroll pan. Don't crowd the cookie dough balls or you'll end up with one gigantic pan cookie.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven on middle shelf.  This should take 10-12 minutes. I take mine out at exactly 11 minutes and then let the cookies finish setting up as they cool on the pans. You do not want the cookies to be brown (like overdone brown) when you take them out, but you also don't want them to look wet. This may take some experimentation with  your oven.

When I first take the cookies out of the oven, I smack the pan on the top of the stove to encourage all the cookies to lie flat. They just seem to need that little jolt so they don't stay puffy in the center. No, I'm not going to make a video of this, but thought I'd tell you on the odd chance that someone would understand what on earth I'm talking about.

Although these are delicious just as they are, next time I'm going to increase the amount of ginger, clove, and cinnamon - just a tad.

You'll have a hard time keeping these around. AND, they're also good right out of the freezer, just in case you feel a need to try to hide them.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Cinnamon and Clove Handcrafted Soap

'Grandma's Kitchen'
Cinnamon and Clove Handcrafted Soap

This luxurious soap will take you back to Grandma's kitchen (or maybe that would be Great-Grandma's kitchen), to the delicious fragrance of cinnamon and clove - and those yummy cookies that were baking in the oven! (Be sure to catch my 'Favorite Molasses Cookies Recipe' post on Wednesday.) Did you almost burn your mouth because you couldn't wait for them to cool?? 

My 'Grandma's Kitchen' handcrafted soap is a favorite with everyone, not just because it smells good enough to eat, but because it is has great moisturizing properties as well. Some people tell me that when they use my soaps, they can stop using moisturizer!

Keep 'Grandma's Kitchen' in the shower, the bath, and also for shaving.

You'll love Grandma's Kitchen, a fragrant cinnamon and clove handcrafted soap. Made with quality base oils and essential oils, plus all-natural botanicals.

Each bar comes with its own attractive label and wrapped in a cello bag. You'll want them for gifts, for the shower or bath! And don't forget to put one at the kitchen sink.

All of my handcrafted bar soaps make great stocking stuffers, so be sure to order plenty!

Ingredients: Coconut oil, Palm oil, Soybean oil, Apricot kernel oil, Shea butter, Essential oils, All-natural botanicals, Distilled water, Sodium hydroxide

Note: Each soap is approximately 4 oz, usually more.

Be sure to check out my Buy Five - Get One Free offer.

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This post is linked to some or all of the following: Amaze Me Monday and Skip to My Lou and Bedazzle Me Monday and  What's in the Gunny Sack and  Making the World Cuter Mondays and Make the Scene Monday and  Made By You Monday and  Something I Whipped Up Monday and  Motivate Me Monday and  Making Monday Marvelous and Get Your Craft On and Tip Me Tuesday and  Made from Scratch Tuesday and  Take a Look Tuesday and  Tasty Tuesday and Tasty Tuesday and  Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays  and Two Maids a Baking and Overflowing With Creativity and What's Cookin' Wednesday and Cast Party Wednesday and  We Did it Wednesday  and It's a Party at Creative Princess and Threading Your Way and Lisa's Gluten-Free Blog and Favorite Things Friday and I'm Lovin' it Friday and It's a Hodgepodge Friday  and Creative Bloggers and  Serenity Saturday and  Home and Family Friday


Friday, November 25, 2011

Arthur's Stone Nr. Dorstone, Herefordshire

 Arthur's Stone

Just four miles from the Welsh border, between the B4348 and the B4352, on a beautiful hill near Dorstone in Herefordshire, stands Arthur's Stone. We were privileged to have friends who live nearby take us there (just a short drive from their house).

 Arthur's Stone, another view

 From Authur's Stone, a view of the Golden Valley

From the nearby sign, above:

'Arthur's Stone is a multi-chambered tomb of the neolithic period dating from between about 3700 and 2700 BC. (This is conjecture, and may not have been quite that long ago.)*

Neolithic people were the first inhabitants of Britain to farm the land and make pottery, but they had not yet discovered the use of metal. (Although there had been others who had worked with metals prior to that time, so it's possible that those skills had simply not yet migrated to Britain.)* They lived in small communities, perhaps numbering no more than 25-100 people.

One of their settlements has been discovered on Dorstone Hill, just to the southeast of here, where flint tools, stone axes and pottery have been found.

Chambered tombs were used to bury the dead from such communities. They were communal burial vaults often used over several generations. A tomb might contain the remains of anything from one or two to more than a hundred individuals - accompanied by simple grave goods such as pots, stone beads and flint arrowheads.

The tombs were important to their builders. With only very simple tools the raising of the massive roof slab, Arthur's Stone was a considerable feat.

The mound which once covered the tomb has now largely eroded away, and many of the stones were removed in the 19th century. The great roof stone has partly collapsed.

According to folklore, Arthur's Stone marks the spot of one of King Arthur's battles, but this legend dates from thousands of years after the real builders of the tomb had been forgotten.'

but long before Clive Owen became King Arthur (I did like him much better as a blind detective.)


*Italicized comments are mine and are not copied from the sign near Arthur's Stone.

That area of England seems untouched by the hustle and bustle of London, far away from the crowds and noise. It's a beautiful part of England to which I'd love to return!

I hope you all are having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Review - Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
Edited by Nancy Guthrie

With all the secular busyness of the season, it's often difficult to keep our hearts and minds focused on the real meaning of Christmas: Jesus, the Creator of the Universe, God's only son, came to this sin-cursed world to RESCUE His people. This Baby, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, went to the Cross to suffer the punishment for our sin. King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus conquered death and hell, securing forgiveness of sin, new life, and freedom to all who put their trust in Him.

I'm looking forward to using a new book to supplement our Scripture readings during the upcoming Advent season. Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, which comprises 22 essays or sermons, was edited and compiled by Nancy Guthrie. She had been disappointed when trying to find 'a book with short readings on Advent themes from a number of different writers I trust and respect; that reflected a high view of Scripture; and that put the incarnation in the context of God's unfolding plan of redemption. And not finding such a book available, I embarked on what has been a sacred adventure of putting such a collection together.'

With the list of authors including John Piper, Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, Saint Augustine, R.C. Sproul, Francis Schaeffer, Timothy Keller and others, this will make a great addition to our Advent devotions. Some selections have a longer Scripture reading than others, so with some, I will be using an additional Scripture passage as well as Christmas Carols appropriate to the Sunday.

I've read through the selections in this book, and am very pleased to have Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus to use with our Advent devotions for 2011.

'But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.'  - John 1:12

'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' - John 3:16

Do you have any favorite devotional books you like to use at Advent? I'd love to hear about them, for I always like finding out what's out there!  

Next week I'll be posting (or actually re-posting a blog post I put up last November,) which shows the Advent tree I made when the kids were little and the devotional book we used at that time. It is excellent for young families.

Remember, the First Sunday of Advent is November 27.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Roasted Vegetables Recipe

Crispy from a 450 degree oven

Thanksgiving Roasted Vegetables Recipe:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare the following vegetables:
Sweet Potatoes
Green Peppers
Sweet Red Peppers

Scrub potatoes and quarter. Peel onion and quarter. Pare parsnips and cut into slices. Seed the peppers and cut into chunks.

Place all vegetables into a large Ziploc bag and pour in 1/8 c. olive oil. Shake bag to completely coat the vegetables. Pour out onto a heavy jelly roll pan. Sprinkle on a little sea salt, cayenne, and black pepper.

Place in a preheated 450 degree oven.
Bake for 45 minutes+ until veggies are tender and crisp. Turn halfway through to crisp up the other side.

Note:  Parsnips should go into the oven first, for about 5-10 minutes because they take a little longer to get tender.

Vegetables, ready for the oven

Roasted Thanksgiving Vegetables
Admired by a few wee visitors

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone! 

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Looking Forward to Winter

Kevin put up the snow fence last week, and just in the nick of time, it seems. Yesterday morning we awakened to 4 inches of snow on the ground (and 18 degrees).

the pictures below were taken the first part of December, 2010.  It's coming...

 Bridger and Misty

I'm going to try to have a better attitude about winter in 2012.

This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

I do have this short verse memorized. I just need to refer to it more often, I think.


Today I need to get some clothes washed and packed, for we're heading out before dawn tomorrow morning for the long drive from NW Wisconsin to Dallas, TX to have Thanksgiving with our daughter and her husband.  I checked the mileage, and did you know that it's as far from our house to Dallas as it is from London to Rome? No kidding.  And we don't even get to drive through France (but we also don't have to cross the Alps.)

I have some posts scheduled to appear during that time (like tomorrow's recipe for roasted vegetables my favorite!) and I hope to check your blogs. But if you don't see me leaving comments, you'll know that we're busy having a great time, and that I'll be getting back to you next week on the 30th.

I hope our neighbor has his deer by the time we leave. I hate deer hunting season, for my dogs have to be on leads every time they go outdoors during daylight hours. Grrr.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Winner of the 5-Bar Handcrafted Soap'n'Such Giveaway...

...and the winner of the 5-bar Handcrafted Soap'n'Such Giveaway is...JEAN (djeanquarles)
Please contact me by noon on Monday the 21st of November with your postal address, so I can get your five handcrafted soaps mailed out to you!


Thanks to all who entered my Soap'n'Such Giveaway. :-)

Chosen by

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Sudeley Castle and Chapel

The ruins of Sudeley Castle Nr. Winchcombe
in the Cotswolds

map (minus the arrow) from

We started out at Cirencester, (just about the middle of the map above) where we spent a few nights at a great B&B. From there, we drove straight north on a narrow (aren't they all narrow??) formerly-Roman road (sometimes path) called the White Way. It was the short cut. Short cuts in England are not necessarily faster, but way more fun and interesting!

From the Sudeley Castle Website:
(I learned my lesson!)

The Castle was once home to Queen Katherine Parr, the last and surviving wife of King Henry VIII. Henry himself, Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, Queen Elizabeth 1 and Richard III have all played a part in Sudeley’s story. King Charles 1 found refuge here during the Civil War, when his nephew Prince Rupert established headquarters at the Castle.

Following it’s ‘slighting’ on Cromwell’s orders at the end of the Civil War, Sudeley lay neglected and derelict for nearly 200 years. King George III was among those sightseers who came to admire its romantic ruins.

Continuing from the website...

'Then in 1837 Sudeley was rescued by the wealthy Worcester glove-makers, brothers John and William Dent, who began an ambitious restoration programme which was continued by their nephew, John Coucher Dent, when he inherited the Castle in 1855. His wife, Emma Brocklehurst, threw herself enthusiastically into Sudeley’s restoration, at the same time forging strong links with the nearby town of Winchcombe. It is the results of Emma’s dedication that are so evident in the gardens and exhibitions at Sudeley today.

The Chapel

Chapel Rood Screen and Pulpit

Inside the small, cold, and dank chapel

Tomb of Catherine Parr, Sixth wife of Henry VIII
Sudeley Chapel

...Sudeley is now the home of the Dent-Brocklehursts and Lord and Lady Ashcombe. The family are committed to the continued preservation of the Castle and its treasures and the ongoing restoration and regeneration of the gardens.'

I was told that Hugh Grant hangs out there (not necessarily in the chapel, but that area) with friends from time to time. I'm not a huge Hugh Grant fan and thought he was a mediocre Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility, but one of my all-time favorite movies is Two Weeks' Notice, in which he was absolutely hilarious!!

The Sweet Cotswold Sheep north of Cirencester
(You thought I'd miss an opportunity to include those sweet little faces??) 

Be sure to enter my 5-Bar Handcrafted Soap'n'Such Giveaway. Ends tonight, Nov.18 at 10 PM. Winner will be announced tomorrow here on Cranberry Morning!

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Have a great weekend, everyone!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Story of David

This is the story of David. He had been a fun kid, my favorite boy cousin, and full of life. We used to play in the haymow, ride on the toboggan behind the horse, and chow down the Christmas treats that my aunt would hide under the eaves in the cold, where she thought they were safe.

But after David served in Vietnam, he came back a changed person. He turned to drugs, smoking, and alcohol for consolation, his body eventually ravaged by years of harmful substances. As time and emphysema took its toll on him, David became thin and haggard, hardly recognizable as the healthy, handsome, and fun kid he had once been. He looked like an old man years before he should have.

David's body and life were riddled with pain. He had no time for God.

But, In the last year of his life, David learned what all true Christ followers know:

It's not about us or what we do that merits our salvation.  It's all about Jesus and what He has done at the Cross, paying the penalty for the sin of all who put their trust in Him. 

I remember when my dad died last December and I was told by another family member that David wanted me to know that he would be praying for our family. What?! I was shocked. And shocked to learn that David was trusting Jesus. David had acknowledged his hopelessness and ran to the only Rescuer, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lavished on him grace and mercy unlimited. (He never turns anyone away). David, his sins forgiven, looked forward to seeing His Savior.

Oh sure, he still lived in that unhealthy, painful body, but he had a Savior who loved him and hope and a future!   'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'  Jeremiah 29:11

Why should I have been shocked? I'm ashamed to say that I'd pretty much written him off as a lost cause. And from a human perspective, he probably was. We've all been born into Adam's sinful race, and are totally unable to save ourselves. It is foolish for us to trust other fellow sinners to make a good decision! But Christ IS worthy of our trust. God knows no such thing as a lost cause.The Creator and Master of the Universe is not limited. He forgives sin. He changes hearts. He gives us hope!

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13b,14

David recognized his hopeless state. He threw himself upon the mercy of God, and God graciously forgave his sin and clothed him with Christ's righteousness.

...not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith. - Philippians 3:9b

David went to be with his Savior the last week of October.

Praise God for the hope that we have in Christ!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Swedish Meatballs and Irritability

I am now on a quest to obtain my Aunt Esther's Swedish meatball recipe. She was Swedish, she married a Swede, and I know she made Swedish meatballs. 

Over the weekend, my husband and I drove to the Big City and found the Big Blue Store, where we were herded like cattle through the maze of clutter. I'm not sure why people find this enjoyable. I'll have to admit that the prices are better than many retail outlets, but the fact that there are big directional arrows painted on the floor and everyone seems to be directed by some unspoken entity to walk in the same direction does not appeal to me in the least. I felt like I was being managed (I have an aversion to that sort of thing) and that if I dared go against the flow of traffic, there might be a loud siren and flashing lights as someone quickly arrived to give me a traffic ticket - or haul me off to a labor camp.  It was not an auspicious beginning.

Then we had lunch. What I was told were Swedish meatballs tasted to me like spherical hot dogs. I couldn't believe that anyone really likes those things. So while my husband was eating a huge portion of 'meatballs' which we had planned to share, I ate an entire piece of fudge, disguised as chocolate cake (which we had also planned to share). I was annoyed, because I hadn't wanted any gravy on my meatballs or potatoes (because most gravy has poison in it and it's usually easier to avoid it than to ask questions and get weird looks), yet it all happened so fast that someone had already poured gravy on the potatoes before we could wrench it out of her hand and avoid getting gravy on the meatballs.  But one taste of the meatballs and it was all over for me anyway. Spongey, hot-doggie weirdness. My mouth immediately knew it was a foreign object that should not be ingested.

You're right. My husband puts up with a lot. But he doesn't seem to have any food sensitivities or allergies except for Bing cherries which make his lips numb. But that's another story.

Now we had a situation in which I not only had no protein for lunch, but had substituted a huge dose of sugar for the protein. I know, this was really stupid. But my choice had been between a three-day headache or a half-day headache. In reality, there was a third option, but that would have required being rational going to the back of a long line. I was in no shape to be making decisions. Result? After about 20 minutes I had the headache, was depressed, irritable, and simply wanted to go home. OR find a large Barnes & Noble, a comfortable, quiet place where one could take refuge in chocolate and coffee, magazines and books.

We went home.

Yes, this is very predictable. 

Moral of the story?

a) Always carry a protein bar in my purse in case of emergencies. (I usually do)
b) Always eat before getting hungry.
b) I shouldn't have let Aunt Esther pass from this world without getting her Swedish meatball recipe. 
c) Use the Big Blue Store for a fun stroll through a retail business, but don't go there when I'm actually on a quest to find certain items on a list.
d) Remember to tell Kevin OFTEN how much I appreciate him.
e) I'm not kidding about Kevin. He is a good man! 
f) Tell my friends OFTEN how much I appreciate them.

Be sure to enter my 5-Bar Handcrafted Soap'n'Such Giveaway. Ends Friday, November 18 at 10 PM.

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