What joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence, not because I've done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ~ C.J. Mahaney

I'll Be Home For Christmas

I don't know about you, but I have barely sat down for the past few days.  Every time I thought I had my act together, I'd remember one last thing that needed to be done.  Yesterday was spent mostly in the kitchen, well, excluding the quick trip to Target and Aldi.  And also excluding the hour or so in the sewing room making Hannah's last minute stocking to hang with all the others from the mantle.

So today, I shall sit.  I shall sit, and read, and relax.  But first, I wanted to show you a Christmas sampler quilt I designed six years ago.  It is one of my all-time favorites.

This quilt I call "I'll Be Home For Christmas."  You see, six years ago, we were waiting for our sweet Maggie to come home from China.  We were also waiting for my brother, Doug, to come home from Iraq.  So, we were missing a couple of very important family members that Christmas.


My thoughts turned sentimental as I stitched up this quilt--thoughts of home, family, prayers, stockings, mittens, Christmas trees, snowmen, American flags, and bright, starry nights.



I stitched some lyrics from one of my favorite Christmas songs all around the border:

"I'll be home for Christmas.  You can plan on me.  
Please have snow and mistletoe, and presents on the tree...."

This year we are waiting again....for a very special little boy to join our family.  He'll be home for Christmas, if only in our dreams.

We love you, Caleb.  Merry Christmas, sweet boy.

And Merry Christmas to all my friends and family!


Ginger Crinkles!

Today I'm revisiting a post from last year. This recipe has been requested by several friends. So, here you go!


Time to don the apron and make our first batch of Christmas cookies!  These soft, chewy Ginger Crinkles are my favorite cookie recipe from my childhood.  My mom used to make these year round, actually.  But they are especially great at Christmas.  And I've never met a soul who didn't like them!

No rolling and cutting these babies. You just mix up the dough, form little balls, and roll them in sugar!  They puff up while they're baking, then settle down slightly and crinkle when you remove them from the oven.




I can mix up a batch of these in no time flat.   And with my first "batch" of December company coming tomorrow to spend one night, I thought a little plate of these might be a nice treat.

I hope you'll try them!!

Ginger Crinkles

  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup sugar for rolling 

Heat oven to  350 degrees.  Mix oil and sugar thoroughly.  Add egg and beat well.  Stir in molasses.  Sift dry ingredients together and add to above mixture.  Drop by teaspoonfuls into sugar and form into balls coated with sugar.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart.  Bake for about 10 minutes, or till puffy.  Remove to wire rack.  Cookies will flatten and crinkle.



My New Favorite Breakfast


Every once in a while I discover a new taste combination that's a bona-fide winner.  This is definitely one of those times.  Recently, a friend told me about a breakfast treat she serves and I knew I had to try it.  It's ridiculously simple. 

For this you're going to need:
  • toast or half a bagel
  • half a banana
  • 1 heaping tablespoon cream cheese
  • honey
  • granola

All you do is take the bagel or a slice of whole wheat toast and spread a liberal tablespoon or so of cream cheese on it.  Cut the half banana in half again lengthwise.  Place those two strips side by side atop your toast.  Now drizzle with honey.  The honey becomes the glue that holds the granola on top.  Sprinkle liberally with your favorite granola.  (This post shows how I make mine.)

Oh. My. Word.

Crazy good!  And you'll feel so healthy eating it!


I can't wait until tomorrow so I can have this again.


Christmas Quilt Winner!


We have a Winner!!

Janet Buck

I drew your name for the

Happy Holly Days

Christmas Quilt!!

Have a lovely Thanksgiving, and I will deliver it to you personally when I get back into town.


Laura Lee

And The Winner Is....

We just drew for the Rodrigo Rodreguez Christmas CD.


You are the luckiest lady I know! Between you and Rochelle, no one else stands a chance in these drawings!


I'll bring it to you tomorrow.  You're gonna love it.


250th Post and Another Give-Away

I noticed the other day that I was posting for the 249th time.  That can only mean one thing.  I've spent way too much time writing this blog for the past three and a half years.

I do appreciate all of you who have joined me along the bloggity highway.  And, luckily for you, I like to commemorate the milestone blog posts with a little give-away.   I know.  I'm right in the middle of another give-away.  But this called for one of its own.  And I had no idea what I was going to do until tonight.

Tonight was the annual Thanksgiving dinner at our church.  And while I love all the food and great fellowship, my favorite part is after the dinner.  Our church always brings in a guest musician for a concert afterward.  And tonight was no exception.

Tonight we were blessed to hear Rodrigo Rodriguez on classical guitar.  I loved hearing the incredible testimony of a gifted musician, who played for audiences around the world, soloed with some of the most famous orchestras, yet never found peace and happiness until he met his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Seventeen years ago, he trusted Christ for his salvation and committed his life to serving his Master.  Now, his ministry is not to perform, or to do "concerts", it is only to share the love of Christ and the hope that can only be found through Him.  To God be the Glory!

I love his message.  And I love classical guitar.  So while I picked up a couple CDs for us, I also grabbed one to give to one of you.

Imagine the lights dimmed, a fire crackling in the fire place, a warm quilt, a cup of hot cocoa, and a sparkling Christmas tree.  Now imagine this beautiful music playing in the background.  That is what I was imagining while he was playing some of these Christmas carols tonight.

Leave a comment, either here or on my Facebook, if you'd like me to enter you to win his Christmas CD. Believe me, it is GORGEOUS!   Visit this website if you'd like to hear previews of the songs.  You'll need to scroll to the bottom to the Christmas CD.

I'm going to draw for this in the next couple days.  So, holla in a hurry, ya' hear??!!


Peanut Brittle

Lately, Lacy's been suggesting we make peanut brittle.  Now, if you don't know my girl, she isn't big on working in the kitchen--nothing like her older and younger sisters.  So, when Lacy suggests cooking something, my little ears perk right up.

It's been a while since I made any candy because my candy thermometer died a few years back and I am too cheap keep forgetting to buy a new one.  If I had known it would only set me back $3.50, I would have been back in the candy making business a long time ago.

We used this recipe, from  It turned out great!

Have your lovely assistant shell the peanuts.  These need to be raw, not roasted.

Then put the sugar, corn syrup, water, salt and peanuts into the pot.

It takes a while to start boiling. 

Lacy is trying to be patient, but she'd rather be making music.

Finally!  300 degrees.

Quickly stir in the butter and baking soda before spreading it on the pan.

Let it cool completely, then break into bite sized pieces.

I wish for you a beautiful weekend!


Christmas Give-Away Quilt


OK, y'all.  It's done.  Well, except for the binding, it is.  As you can see, I finished this by machine quilting it...made that last minute decision today.  I really wanted to hand quilt this, but time's getting away from me, and I needed to get it finished up quickly.  (The reds in these pics appear a bit orange.  They aren't.  These are true candy-apple reds.)


I keep calling it a table topper, but, really, it will look great on the wall or on a table, either one.

Drawing for this will be on Thanksgiving Day.  So, leave a comment if you'd like me to enter you!

Coming up in future posts:  a candy recipe, a cake recipe, a cookie recipe, and my new favorite breakfast.  So, come on back soon.


The End of the Chase

This, my friends, may not look like much to you.  However, it represents four months of hard work and determination on our part.  Oh, the trees that were felled to produce this mound of documents, and the copies in triplicate, known in international adoption lingo as:

The Dossier.

The Dossier is the "package" that is mailed to the foreign government, in our case, China, to represent the family seeking to adopt a child.  One might think that after gathering these documents four times now I'd find the whole affair simple, straightforward, effortless.  Wrong.  I would rather take a toothbrush and go clean Wal-Mart.  Blindfolded.  If you are an extremely organized, detail-oriented, and methodical person (if you view the term “obsessive-compulsive” as a compliment) you might enjoy compiling the dossier.  None of those adjectives describes me.  I believe I wrote in an earlier post that these letters, certificates, financial records, signatures, stamps and seals deterred us for seven years before we considered adopting again.  Oh yes, I dislike it that much. 

Included in this unimpressive pile of papers are the following:

Home Study- The Home Study investigation is completed by a social worker affiliated with a home study agency in your state of residence. Much of the home study document gathering process overlaps and duplicates what you are already gathering for the rest of the dossier, which is mostly good, until you have a déjà vu. "Haven't I already mailed this document to someone else?"  This is arguably the most important, frustrating, and time-consuming part of the process.  And it's expensive.  We had to attend online classes that taught us how to respond to questions like, "Is this your real child?" (As opposed to an imaginary one, I suppose.) We had to read a 500-page book that talks about weird stuff like family beds.  We had to bribe three friends to write nice letters about us.  It also required police, child abuse, and sex offender clearances in South Carolina.  Additionally, we were required to produce child abuse clearance letters for the other three states where we have lived since we were 18 years old.  I could write a book about the bureaucracy involved in acquiring those clearances alone.

Personal Statement- This is a personal letter from the parents and includes a brief introduction of your family background, education, and employment history.  You explain the reason you want to adopt a Chinese child, your plans to preserve his or her cultural heritage, and that you will never abandon him or her. 

Employment Letters- This letter is from your employer and is written on a company letterhead.  It includes how long you have worked with the company, your salary and any benefits that you receive.   In addition to Tom's employment letter,  I had to write a separate letter stating that I elected to remain at home to raise our children.

Certificate of Financial Status- This form, often referred to as the net worth statement, can be completed by you or your accountant. The idea is to show your overall financial situation, in order to prove that you can provide for a child.  You list all your debts, all your assets, and hope the latter outweighs the former by a pretty sizable chunk of change.

Certificate of General Physical Examination- Pretty self-explanatory.  This is completed by your medical doctor.  Full blood work profiles and HIV tests are also required. 

Birth Certificates- These can't be the cute ones your mothers tucked into your baby books.  They have to be certified within the last year and must be authenticated by the Secretary of State in the state where you were born.  For Tom, this is a royal pain, as he was born overseas to military parents and must get his from the State Department in Washington DC.

Marriage Certificate- The procedure for this is the same as the birth certificates.

Local Police Clearance-  You ask your local police department for a records check or letter of good conduct.  Separate documents are needed for each spouse.  This could possibly be the simplest thing we do, and I find this requirement completely amusing.   Our backgrounds are checked at all levels of government, from state to federal, for the home study.  But for the dossier, we need a little letter from The A-Town Poleece stating we're not criminals.  Takes all of five minutes.  Go figure that one.

CIS Approval Form-  This is issued after the US government has cashed your hefty application fee, approved your home study, and cleared your fingerprints through their national database using infared technology at one of their official biometric gathering locations.  When you receive this form, you jump for joy, change your Facebook status, and make a photocopy, in that order.  You then swear before a notary that it's an unaltered copy.  The original accompanies you to China.

That's it.

However before you smile and say I'm making a big deal out of nothing, you need to understand that each of these documents must then be notarized at the county level, certified at the Secretary of State in your state, authenticated by the State Department in Washington DC, and also authenticated at the Chinese Consulate in Washington DC.

Getting everything notarized is no big deal.  I just do it as I go along and the church secretary and I get very chummy during that time.  I can then make one trip to Columbia to the Secretary of State's office and get all the notary signatures certified in one afternoon.  So far, so good.

The big, scary part to me is the Washington DC step.  After spending months gathering these documents, the dossier becomes like a baby in my mind and I'd basically kill to protect it.  So rather than send it to the State Department in Washington, we send it to a courier whose job it is to walk the documents through both DC stops and return the documents to us overnight.  Paying a courier, who is also an adoptive mom, adds to our fees, but provides untold peace of mind.

You can only imagine the number of people required to make all this happen.  Four to ten people handle each document to sign, stamp, notarize, certify, and authenticate.  It really is a wonder it all comes together and these children ever make it home.  But God is faithful.  He gets us through it.  And the joy the child brings completely overshadows the pain of the paper chase.  Thus, like a pregnancy, most people are willing to do it all again.  And others, who fall squarely in the crazy category, do it four times.

So, today, the documents are all back from DC and I'm FedEx-ing them to Charleston to our adoption agency.  Accompanying the official documents are copies of our passports, extra passport photographs, and two pages of photographs showing our family having fun together. 

And then we hurry up and wait.  We're looking at probably four to six months before we finally meet our boy.  But, at least the ball is in China's court now.

He's worth every bit of this and more.


Prairie Points 101 for Monica


The last time I wrote about the Christmas give-away quilt, I mentioned that it would have little prairie points in the border.  My friend Monica commented that she had no idea what they were.  So, this post is for her, and all the rest of you who are dying to be in-the-know about these little quilty embellishments.  

Prairie points are simply little squares of fabric folded into triangles, then folded again into smaller triangles. This accomplishes the task of giving the triangles finished edges so they can be inserted into the seam of the quilt.  In this case, they are used in a border; but I've also seen them used as the final edge of the quilt, removing the necessity of actually binding the quilt separately.


I needed thirty-six little points for this quilt, nine per side.

I laid them out to get a good color distribution, then sewed them to one edge of a border piece.


As I suspected, the prairie points were fun to do!  I like how it's coming together.  The plan is to start quilting it this weekend.  Let me know if you'd like to enter the drawing to win this festive little table topper.


Sugar Cookies


Sweet, familiar, comfortable.  Nothing speaks home quite like a sugar cookie warm from the oven.  No frills, just the friendly and familiar flavors of sugar with vanilla and a hint of almond.  I love this particular recipe made with butter and cream cheese.   These cookies are perfect for any occasion, or just for saying "I love you" to my family on a lazy afternoon.



 Sugar Cookies
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2- 3/4 cup sugar for rolling

Preheat the oven to 375°F. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts, and the egg.  Add the flour mixture and beat on low until the mixture is evenly moistened.  Scoop the dough by tablespoonfuls into the sugar, rolling to coat.  Place on greased baking sheets (or use a baking stone), leaving 2” between them.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  The edges of the cookies will just barely begin to brown.  Remove from the oven and cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to finish cooling.