Merry Christmas!

Brightly wrapped presents under the tree are a beautiful sight to behold on Christmas morning. As a child, scampering down the stairs to see what Santa had delivered was always exciting. Even though we all knew Santa Claus was a fictional character in our home, it was fun to think about. We all knew our parents provided our gifts, and my mother worked herself to exhaustion level to make sure we had a wonderful Christmas season.

In our home growing up, and in our home raising children, the birth of Christ being remembered was always the reason we celebrated. The older I become, the more meaningful that is to me. I still enjoy the lighted and decorated Christmas tree, and the giving of presents. The family gathered, and food contributed and enjoyed by cherished family and friends.

No, Jesus Christ was not born on December 25th, and there wasn’t snow on the ground with wise men present. But Jesus Christ was born, and the angels proclaimed it to the shepherds in the fields. A star boldly proclaimed where the Savior lay and directed those that wished to follow. December 25th is the day set aside for Christians to remember. I am thankful we have the opportunity to still celebrate that, and I am extremely thankful for the gift that was given.

Merry Christmas to one and all! May your day be filled with thankfulness, and joy!

Featured image at top of title: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

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Merry Christmas Eve!

If you are in the United States, it’s safe to say that you are probably experiencing some severe weather of some sort. It’s been a crazy weather week! Here in Kansas, we will be having a white Christmas for the first time in many years. I know I’m excited about that! I rather like that Norman Rockwell feeling I get when the holiday season is filled with wintry weather…snow-covered grounds, with cinnamon and pine filling your senses beside a crackling fire.

Stay safe everyone as you get ready for “the most wonderful time of the year!”

Christmas Music

Music has always been a very big part of my life. Maybe because of my mother and her talent in that area. She played piano and organ, and even accordion in her younger years. When I was a child, she always played for church services, and any weddings or special singing. Each Christmas season, she usually played for a Cantata. On many occasions, I was her page turner. I thought of it as an honor as she practiced for these events at home. It definitely helped me to learn to read music and keep track of where she was on the page!

I never became the pianist that my mother was. I do have her piano in my home once again. Our daughter was not able to keep it for now, so I am thrilled to have it back. I missed it way more than what I thought I would. And I can actually still play. That was a surprise. It’s been a few years!

Chickering upright. Purchased by my grandfather in Denver, Colorado in 1956. It is now over 100 years old!

Every Christmas season, my mother played Christmas music. It seemed like all day every day at the time. But I’m sure it wasn’t. Especially considering what you went through to play music back then in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. We had records of the classic Christmas songs. Perry Como, Dean Martin, and of course Andy Williams. My father was rather innovative at that time. He wired our house with speakers upstairs, so we could hear the music there as well. It was played from a huge wood stereo. It took up a wall in our living room. When I hear any of those songs now, I get all fuzzy and warm feeling inside.

I heard this song today…again, a couple of my favorite Christmas songs. I have shared this group on here before. This family came to our church many times over the years. Back when they were all still in school. I don’t think the oldest had even graduated high school yet. Our youngest always looked forward to seeing their youngest. They were close in age, and that was a treat for Catherine. Our son was impressed with the guitar playing. He was just learning at the time. He’s become a pretty good player and singer himself now. The Petersen’s are a very successful group now, and they have a regular show in Branson. It’s been neat to follow their journey over the years and see their talent grow. Enjoy this version of these two songs. I did!

Let the Season Begin

Christmas time has come once again. And like all older people, you know the ones…the ones I said I would never be like back when I was in my twenties and thirties…it arrives quicker each year! Now that’s a sentence for my editor to make a comment on! Thank you, Britta Ann for all your wise words on editing. I really do appreciate you!

I really dislike that each time I have posted this year…all three times I think it’s been…I apologize for not posting. Life has been a whirlwind, and I know all of your lives have been as well. I’ve been wanting to update you all, and the time has never been there. So, here’s a quick update. Maybe at some point, when the winter winds blow and I’m cold just sitting around, and all my books are finished, I will fill in all the little blanks.

In April this year, my husband and I went to Indiana for two weeks to help care for our newest grandson. I kind of had a bad feeling from the standpoint of caring for a six-month old. Doing that at 57 is far different than in your twenties! But we survived, and it was absolutely wonderful getting to know little Maverick, who is now an adorable 13-month-old. But for some reason, those two weeks started a tailspin of events that I’m still recovering from. The hardest part being just being gone from home a lot…which again, something I wouldn’t have found a problem back in my twenties and thirties!

June was a busy month. My sister, whom I hadn’t seen in many years, came for a visit, and we were able to meet her new husband. A great visit! So happy to have Evan as part of our family! My mother fell at the nursing home about that same time. Any of you that have worked in geriatrics know that is not a good thing! Yes, my mother broke her hip…and that’s even worse for someone in a care facility. (I say that after working in care facilities for many years. It just seems to go downhill after a broken hip. Nothing being said here about care facilities being bad!) The end of June held many visits to the hospital, where my mother did very well for about a week. It was wonderful to have that time with her and my father. The end of June brought a fantastic time for our family in Branson. I even went swimming, which I hadn’t done in so many years! It was once a thing I loved!

During our week in Branson, my mother took a turn for the worse. My husband and I headed straight to the care facility on our return, him leaving my suitcases at my parent’s home. My mother passed on July 2nd, and while very sad, I am happy for her, and where she is now. She was in so much pain that last week. My brother and his family were making plans to visit my mother but missed her by two weeks. It was still wonderful to have them visit for a couple days!

Here is a fill-in-the-blank-later moment. My husband and I are now living in my parent’s home…my father is here occasionally, but my husband and I are now caring for it. My father wants it to be our home, and I’ve explained that it will take a while. Some time will need to pass before I don’t look at each item that is here and remember that it was my mother’s. For now, that’s a good thing. So many of my mother’s monetary furnishings had to be sold to make room for our furnishings, but I’ve kept those special pictures, glassware, and furniture that I and my siblings remember from our childhood.

I’ve posted on how special my mother made the holidays. I look back now and wonder how she did it. Dozens of cookies, open house celebrations, decorations galore! We always had at least two Christmas trees, and some years five when we lived in the bigger houses. I fall way short of that, but I have my memories. Yesterday I finished decorating our new home. Simpler than what my mother once did, but homey for us.

Lots of traveling this past year, my mother’s death, and a move. But so much to be thankful for this Christmas season! I have found that in my own life, God seems to work that way. Many trials and testing, but so many other reasons to give thanks, and remember how gracious and merciful God is. I have reconnected with my sister, I have the opportunity to spend time with my father, I have been privileged to get to know my brother’s family a bit better. We’ve had visits with our children and our grandchildren that were wonderful! We have a beautiful home to live in, and my husband’s Parkinson’s is holding steady.

Thank you, God, for all of these! Have a wonderful Christmas season!

Beautiful Spring

I’ve shared a lot on baking for my past few posts. It’s something that I do on a regular basis…when it’s cold outside. But with warmer weather, I’m feeling the pull to be outside. Not to work as I once did…laying sidewalk, building rock walls, digging ponds…but just enjoying. I haven’t even mowed lawn this year. My husband has been keeping up with that pretty well. It’s a two-day job with our push mower. At this writing, I haven’t even planted my hanging baskets or pots for our front porch. That was typically a Mother’s Day goal.

What I’m feeling today is writing. I haven’t worked on my book in two months, and I’m being crushed by the weight of getting it done! With a writer’s meeting this Thursday, the weight is heavier.

I don’t like unfinished projects. But I’m not very good about completing one before I start another. My mind is always bouncing from one thing to the next. There is probably medication for that, and it would probably help my family and friends deal with me better. 😉 But I do like to live in the moment and feel everything! My editor not only edits my books but keeps me reined in when I think of another book to write. Which circles back to the weight of getting this third book in my series done.

Everything beautiful! A sunny, spring day with flowers! Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

I found the above picture when I was looking through Pixabay pictures for a comment on Facebook. It made me think of my writer friend Julane Hiebert. https://www.amazon.com/Julane-Hiebert/e/B017QGX5X4?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1652806690&sr=1-1 When I go to her house for our writer’s meeting, a bicycle with flowers in the basket lets you know you are at the right place. It always makes me smile and think of Julane and being Julane. She’ll get that statement.

So back to writing, so I have something to share at the meeting on Thursday. I hope your spring is going well, and that there’s beauty, sunshine, and maybe a bicycle with flowers in the basket for your Tuesday!

P.S. The header picture is from: Image by jplenio from Pixabay

Hot Baking Continued

In my last post on baking, I said I would share the newest recipe I had tried from Joy Filled Eats. https://joyfilledeats.com/about/

I use this site the most for my baking recipes. I’ve shared a couple other sites on here as well. You can see them in past posts under yummy food. I always share these sites because I’m not a food blogger, and I really appreciate the work these women have done with these recipes. The first time through a recipe, I always follow the guidelines exactly. The second time, I might try something different to make the recipe work better for me. If so, I include what I found to be helpful when going through the recipe. I always share the link for the recipe in my post, along with pictures that I have taken of the finished product. I want you all to have the original recipe, and the nutrition information that you need. Plus, as a writer, I know I want to give credit where credit is due. And followers are always a great thing! 😉

Who doesn’t love cheesecake? When you put it with fruit and in a bite-size morsel it’s even better. This recipe for Raspberry Cheesecake Cookies is amazing! https://joyfilledeats.com/raspberry-cheesecake-cookies/ and pretty easy to make. I don’t do a lot of cookies because…well…they’re tedious to bake. I go for a bar any day. But this thumbprint cookie is easy to form, non-sticky, and just the right size for two bites. (Okay, a few were just one bite!)

In this recipe is a recipe link for sugar-free Strawberry Jam. https://joyfilledeats.com/fresh-strawberry-jam/ I made this jam with mixed berries, (just like the picture above), and I used this in the cookies. It’s wonderful! I can’t wait to try it on some toast…gluten-free of course! I’m also looking forward to trying these cookies again with the raspberry jam, or the caramel in the thumb-print cookies.

I wasn’t going to put the white chocolate drizzle on top. I was a little tired of baking by that point in time, but I melted some anyway. I don’t have a microwave, by choice. So, when I was melting the chocolate on the stovetop, I refilled my Singing Canary and let the chocolate get too hot. White chocolate seems to be a little more finicky in that area. Anyway, no drizzle was coming out of that mess! So, I just chopped it into little chunks and crumbled over the top. It still tastes delicious!

Cookies just out of the oven. I doubled the recipe. Original recipe is for 12 cookies.
Finished product with white chocolate crumbles.

So, just a reminder. Don’t refill your Singing Canary glass when you are melting white chocolate on the stove. But if you do, and you haven’t burnt it beyond recognition, it can be redeemed in crumbles. These cookies are wonderful, and I’m going to say my new favorite cookie…until the next recipe. Thank you, Joy Filled Eats, for another great recipe!

P.S. Part one of this blog is Hot Baking. I have included information on the Singing Canary and other recipes in that post.

Hot Baking

First of all, a big, “Hello and thank you!” to everyone that has been stopping by and still reading my posts. That’s a real encouragement to me, and I know I’m way overdue on saying something. With great surprise, most of the new followers, and readers have been on the posts regarding food. Keto food to be exact. I’m not surprised about the food part. Eating is a very enjoyable part of most people’s days. And it is for me.

Once again, I will state that I’m not a food blogger. Just someone that enjoys baking…from the standpoint that I get to eat it! I’ve tried some really great recipes in the past couple of years, and I’ve enjoyed sharing them with you all.

So, today was a baking day. With the temperatures in the nineties, my husband mowed the yard and I baked. I don’t know who was more worn out! I know I was definitely cooler inside. When the weather is sultry, my go-to drink is the Singing Canary. I would say it’s my favorite of all the sippers I’ve tried so far, but I have a lot more to try. For those of you that are not familiar with Trim Healthy Mama, here is a link. https://trimhealthymama.com/

Over the past almost two years, I’ve cut refined sugar and wheat flour from my diet. I’ve been going at it very slowly, losing weight slowly. But that’s what I want. This has to be a lifestyle for me…forever! The Trim Healthy Mama books, support group on Facebook, and recipes have really helped me to stick with it. There are many food bloggers that share recipes as well. I have shared those recipes on here a few times now. All this healthy, delicious baking has really paid off for my husband. He is at his lowest weight, and best weight for him since we married almost 40 years ago. And every day we have a baked item for our breakfast dessert! That’s been really great news for my price-reduced-bakery-eating husband. Now remember…those results are his, and maybe not the same for everyone.

As I said, today was a baking day. I began with the Singing Canary…

Doesn’t it look yummy?

This is the actual recipe in the book.

Next, I made the Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars that I may have shared on here before. They are my husband’s favorite. Just an all-around great bar that keeps well and travels well. I make them almost every week.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars before cutting.

These bars are a recipe from https://joyfilledeats.com/chocolate-chip-cookie-bars/. This is another site I use A LOT! Check out her recipes. I’m sure you will find one, if not twenty that you’ll love.

Today, I also tried a new recipe from Joy Filled Eats. As always it is amazing! But I’m going to share that tomorrow. Because by then I can give a really good review on how yummy it is after I’ve eaten a few.

Stay cool and stay safe. I know the weather is showing more storms to arrive today. This time of year in Kansas is not my favorite! Plus, it never fails to downpour just after the yard is mowed and tidy. Until tomorrow…

Greetings From the Frigid Midwest!

Actually, today is really nice! Fifty-four degrees at this writing. But a few days ago, not so good. Single digits are always a bit scary. You pray your furnace keeps working and the water running!

Last Wednesday, the 2nd.

Good news…our goldfish are still hanging in there. Last winter our youngest kept the pond cleared for them, and this winter my husband took over the job. Everything I read on goldfish said that they hibernate, and don’t feed them when it gets cold. Well, our seven fish didn’t get the memo, and they get a bit cranky when no flakes are given. So, every day, without fail, my husband goes outside, and bangs out a small portion of ice. This scares the fish, so they disappear for a while, but soon they are back. We still have all seven fish that have been with us for twenty-one months now. That’s almost two years! Pretty good considering the pet store said they would live about three months! If those seven fish keep growing, we are going to need a bigger pond, or small lake!

I’ve also made a little more headway on the kitchen project. Our son and a son-in-law put up the pendant lights over the pass-through. I love them! They are a real pain when it comes to changing the bulbs…but they are supposed to be good for twenty years!? I’ll believe that when I see it. As our son so graciously put it… “Will any of us be here in twenty years?”

I am now working on trim and staining…as you can see in the above picture. I tried a bit of staining with the doors closed, and I’m going to have to wait until warmer weather. My diffuser wouldn’t cut the brain-killing fumes!

The biggest news is…I’m just a few pages away from ending my second book in the Love Defined Series! Sweet Belief! This one has been a long haul for me. Difficult to find time to write, and just disgusted with myself and all the rewrites needed! I wrote this series of books before writing conferences, etc. and they are a mess! Head-hopping anyone? Too many points of view? Hey…let’s just trail off on another story all together. Ugh!

In honor of Valentine’s Day…just around the corner…already?! I am giving away the first book in the series, Sweet Hope. You may download this on Amazon, Wednesday the 9th through Friday the 11th, for FREE! This is a love story…no angst, just sweet. Kind of different than what I usually write, actually. But you need to read it to be ready for Sweet Belief…which is back to my normal voice…or as normal as it gets!

I hope you fall in love with this family, just as I have!

Click right here on the 9th – 11th to get your FREE copy! https://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Hope-Jonathan-Elisabeth-Defined-ebook/dp/B08BJGJW1M/ref=sr_1_5?crid=2ORYZOE60XXPV&keywords=deborah+ann+dykeman

Happy reading!

O Holy Night

Christmas Eve has arrived. I always look forward to this day and tomorrow. A special time spent with family, and whenever those days occur…memories abound.

I am missing my mother this year. She is still with us, but in a nursing home. The woman that was once a huge part of our holiday celebrations, only remembers the work involved. And I guess I don’t blame her for that. She went above and beyond for her family during the Christmas season.

Weeks of baking which included cookies of all kinds, and decorating sugar cookies. See’s Fudge, and gingerbread houses when we were older. We always had several trees to decorate. My father and brothers hung strings of white lights over barns, and shrubs, while candles illuminated every window.

Christmas in Crown Point, New York.

We didn’t always have new clothes for Christmas. My mother shopped at the Salvation Army when we lived in Longmont, Colorado. We always had plenty of new-to-us clothing, and often from high-end places. My mother was a savvy shopper. She could stretch a buck to the breaking point in those days. What she didn’t purchase, she crocheted or knitted. Our babies always were well-dressed, and warm.

In between all of that, my mother played piano and organ for our church services. Which always meant a Christmas Cantata. I don’t know how she did it all.

O Holy Night has long been a favorite of mine. My mother always played it this time of year, and I loved to sing along. With those memories, I share this version of it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5j_XuATgRU

This group is going through a difficult time right now with the loss of Carlos Marin. Please keep this group and their families in your prayers.

Christmas Blessings to you. Until next time…

Dessert Oops!

Many of you have your Christmas baking in full swing by now. And if you don’t…you may be just a bit panicked. After all, Christmas is in just three days!

Three days?!

Wasn’t it just a couple weeks ago when the memes started floating around about the Christmas countdown? It was still in the nineties here…and the Christmas mood was still months away for me.

To say the Christmas season snuck up on me this year is an understatement! But here we are. And delicious food is just one of the items that comes to mind.

Every Christmas, our family grew up with See’s Fudge. I’ve probably posted on here before about it. It’s just that big of a deal for our family. My mother’s mother made it, my mother made it, and I’ve made it every year since I married.

Until last year…when I quit eating refined white sugar. Last year I thought I’d miss it dreadfully…and I missed it a bit. This year, I don’t miss the cloying sweetness of it, but just the thought. I won’t be making it this year. I don’t want the ingredients in the house, but I miss having it for the holiday season, and the little gift canisters I made for family and friends. At some point I want to try a version of it without the white sugar and condensed milk. I have other options to use. But it probably won’t be before summer arrives!

So all that said…I stumbled upon something else that is just as good in my opinion, and I’m going to share it with you all!

Once again…I am NOT a food blogger, or keto-recipe guru. So I don’t have the calorie, sugar, and carb information listed. I don’t particularly worry about all that. But for those of you that need to keep a watch, I do apologize for not having that information.

A recipe I have loved is from this site that I follow. https://mymontanakitchen.com/poodle-doodles/

I have made these many times now, and our family loves them. I have to say I’m a bit lazy when it comes to shaping them, so I always double the recipe, and put it into a 9×13 pan. I place it in the refrigerator while I melt the chocolate and coconut on the stove, (I don’t have a microwave, by choice,) and then I smooth on top. They are wonderful! This recipe does have all the calorie, carb, etc. information that you need if you follow the above link.

This past Sunday, our church was having their Christmas celebration. We had a meal after our morning services. The theme was to be Mexican and Canadian dishes. The ladies did a wonderful job of decorating! Very festive. I made chicken enchilada’s, potatoes, and I tried a dessert.

I spent some time researching Canadian desserts. One that kept appearing in the top ten was the Nanaimo Bar which “is a tremendously sweet, no-bake layered bar cookie from Canada made almost exclusively of packaged ingredients.” Every time I looked at a recipe for this bar, the ingredients for the bottom layer were very close to the above recipe I shared. I thought, why not try to make the bars sugar free? I did, and they were fantastic! I was actually shocked that they turned out so well on the first try.

My version of a sugar-free Nanaimo Bar.

Don’t they look yummy?

I have to say, I have not ever had the original version of this bar. I don’t know if it tastes similar. I just know this was delicious! If you want to give this a try for your holiday baking, here you go:

Make the Poodle Doodle recipe that I shared above. I doubled mine to fit into a 9×13 pan. Chill in the fridge while you mix your second layer.

In a bowl, mix together with beaters:

6 ounces softened cream cheese
6 ounces softened butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar-free sweetener, I use Swerve
1 Tablespoon cream, you can add a bit more if you want it thinner to mix and spread
11/2 teaspoons vanilla

You want it to be frosting consistency. Spread this on the first layer, put in the fridge while you make the coating which is in the original recipe shared above. Again, I doubled the chocolate chips and coconut. I melt my chocolate and coconut on the stovetop until it is nice and smooth. Pour over the top of the second layer and smooth evenly. Work quickly because the cooled second layer will harden your chocolate. I use an offset spatula. If it glops, it still tastes wonderful! As a side note, I use Bake Believe chocolate chips. I’ve come to almost prefer them over Lily’s Chocolate Chips. They are always readily available at our Walmarts here in Kansas.

Now all you have to do is enjoy! My husband and I have had them every day this week for breakfast with coffee for a little dessert after our omelets. If you make this, let me know what you think!