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Well, fine ladies and gents, I’ve decided a few things about blogging.  And in doing so, I have some new and exciting things to share.  🙂

*I’ve decided to largely leave the world of Facebook.  It feels over-crowded and I never know if I’m posting too frequently and annoying my Facebook friends.  This’ll free up some much-desired time and focus on my blog, where I can post as frequently as I want!  My plan is to blog at least once a week about revelations during times with my Father, a gardening journal, thoughts, feelings, struggles, and questions on being a keeper of the home, and anything else I darn well want to put in it!  I am SO EXCITED about this decision, even if I’m the only one who ever reads it!

*I’m taking my blogging business to blogger, where I can actually earn a few pennies if anyone decides to click on the ads framing my blog, whereas no money is earned here on WordPress.  Every little bit helps, right?

SO…. my new blog address iswww.riddlelove.blogger.com!

I hope to see you there. 🙂  I don’t plan on deleting this blog.  I’ll leave it the way it is and begin a new chapter of blogging on the new and improved one.

So, with this, I say, “Farewell, WordPress!  Thank you for allowing me to get my feet wet in this thing that’s called blogging.  It’s been real.”

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My, my.  Haven’t I been quite the delinquent blogger?  I learned this year that if I don’t want most forms a normal life to stop during the Christmas season, I need to start making gifts a lot earlier.  Starting the beginning of November was a mistake, but I was able to get the last stitch in on Christmas Eve.  Whew.

Thanks so much to all of you who shared your great ideas at Homemade Christmas Goodness.  It is the most visited post on my blog, and not only did it greatly help me, it helped hundreds of others who stopped in to glean from your ideas and inspiration.  They were personally much appreciated and many were applied to my gift-giving this year.  I ended up making gift baskets (beautiful Christmassy ones that I found for a steal at Grocery Outlet), as suggested by Camille, and they were filled with a bit of an eclectic array of goods, some homemade and some store-bought.  In the end though, I was very pleased with the final results and felt a greater sense of excitement and joy giving loved ones pieces of things I worked on just for them.  My favorite homemade gifts came from ideas by a book my friend, Rissa shared about called “Doodle Stitching.”  This book is so fun and it inspired great ideas.  Rissa made adorable flour sack kitchen towels and I latched on to that idea and embroidered some of my own.  I ended up making 14 of them altogether.                                                                                              This is my favorite of the birds.

Here's another bird, made by back stitching.

Here's another bird, made by back stitching.

Butterflies and Bumblebee

Butterflies and Bumblebee

The butterflies and bumblebees was the quickest one to make.  I like it’s simplicity, but I think I might add more to it next time.img_0556 I love these funky trees.  In the book, this idea was for a scrap book cover and it had a squirrel in between the trees, but it intimidated me, so here you have just the trees.  🙂img_0557

This was the very first one I embroidered.  I started off very ambitious but soon realized there was not enough time to get 14 of these done in the time left before Christmas.

Little Woodland Felt Creatures

Little Woodland Felt Creatures

Those little guys were my all-time favorite to make.  So fun and rewarding!

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade vanilla extract was a quick and impressive-seeming touch to the baskets.  It’s just a vanilla bean and a few tablespoons of vodka or bourbon let alone to mingle for a month.  They make a very happy combination.  The vodka kind is much lighter in color, and I decided to give the darker bourbon version in the gift baskets.  The picture shown is the very beginning of the bourbon extract (week one), and this is also what the finished product of the vodka extract looks like.

I included some yummy Swedish Cream Cookies in glass jars and Nanaimo Bars in little ceramic Christmas mini-loaves (that I forgot to take pictures of) in the gift baskets.  The recipes were from another friend who wins all kinds of blue ribbons at state fairs.

All-in-all, it was a fun season of gift-giving.  What a treat it was to combine the ideas and suggestions of so many lovely friends to make thought-out gifts for my dear family.  Next year, I start the idea/gift making process in the Spring!

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“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from it’s roots shall bear fruit.  And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”     Isaiah 11:1-2

I’m afraid I haven’t been the best at up-keeping this site.  With Christmas almost 3 weeks away, every spare minute has been devoted to finishing making homemade Christmas presents (I’ll post pictures of the finished results when they’re, well, finished).  Back to the Jesse Tree…

Before it gets any later, I wanted to share with you a new family tradition we observe during this sweet season.  The Jesse Tree.  Anything that focuses our attention on the True meaning of Christmas is of great interest to me.  Here’s a daily family devotional for the Jesse Tree that we use.  I enjoy making the ornaments with the children.  Here’s one we made:

 

The "In the beginning" picture we made an ornament out of.

The "in the beginning" picture we made an ornament out of.

 I’d love to hear about the things you do to celebrate our Savior this time of year if you’re willing to share!  Merry Christmas!

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I meant to post (and start) this last week (technically, I should have started this October 2), but catching up shouldn’t be hard.  I downloaded The 12-Week Holiday Planner for the Christian Family two years ago, and still really enjoy it.  The greatest thing about it is you buy it and print it once, stick it in protective sleeves in a binder, and enjoy it year after year using a dry-erase pen over the sleeves.  Admittedly, I am an organized Christmas junky, and I actually incorporate this planner along with the Christmas Countdown (with free downloads).  I’ve kept a running Christmas Countdown notebook for the past six years to keep track of systems and routines that worked, gifts I’ve given to each individual/group so as not to get in a gift rut, and meaningful new traditions I’d like to continue the following Christmases (as well as things that took away from the season to remember to avoid it in the future).

So, all you Christmas lovers who enjoy a stress-free, well-thought-out yuletide season and who don’t want to lose focus of the True meaning of this great holiday in all the hustle and bustle, check these sites out!  It’ll be fun to compare notes, share ideas, and encourage each other along the path to the manger!  😀

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It’s already mid September!  I am realizing the more kids I have, the faster time  flies (meaning, if I don’t start making Christmas gifts now, they won’t be done until February).  Times are a wee bit on the tight side, so being extra creative with the funds is an exciting challenge this year.  But I need help.  I’m running out of ideas.  

A couple years back, I made little family favorite Christmas recipe booklets, which has been my favorite idea yet (complements of Organized Christmas), and just about every year I make little plates of goodies, but I need new ideas!  Can you help me, please?  ANY ideas!
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“Christmas?!  What?!  It’s August for heaven’s sake!”  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that.  I can’t help it; I have a chronic love for Christmas.  Anticipation is so darn much fun, and finding Organized Christmas (eight years ago) totally feeds that.  It even makes deep cleaning feel festive and exciting.  They encourage keeping a running family wish list year-round so you will be prepared when people ask you what everyone in the family wants.

Let me tell you about the item that has been #1 on my list for the past two years: the Vita-mix.  Making smoothies, hummus, pureed soups, and nut butters is a common occurrence in my kitchen, but these items just don’t get as smooth as store-bought versions when I use my food processor or blender to make them.  The vita-mix would cure that.  I promise I don’t sell these things (but my friend does, if you’re interested 🙂 ), I just wanted to share one of my “favorite things” with you.  Hey, Oprah does it, why can’t I?

So what’s on you’re list?  I’m always on the lookout for cool items that enhance health and beauty in the home.  Or do you not think about such things in August like most normal people?
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Drought weights the trees, and from the farmhouse eaves
The locust, pulse-beat of the summer day,
Throbs; and the lane, that shambles under leaves
Limp with the heat–a league of rutty way –
Is lost in dust; and sultry scents of hay
Breathe from the panting meadows heaped with sheaves.

– from "The Rain-Crow" by Madison Cawein (1865 – 1914)

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