We have always lived in a parsonage and so we've never owned a home. In our early days of ministry that bothered me a little but as I grew in years and in my spiritual life I began to see it as a blessing in our lives. Then the Lord gave me a wonderful verse about being a "parsonage dweller".
" And they lodged round about the house of God, because the charge was upon them, and the opening thereof every morning pertained to them. " (I Chron. 9:27)
Since the Lord gave me that verse I have been very content with my home wherever the Lord might put me. At this point He has us in a holding pattern in our lives until He gives us new and clear direction. Needless to say this has altered our life and that includes the holiday period of our lives.
I'm a true traditionalist. I love things to be the same so my children and family look back and can say, "Do you remember how mom (Grandma, Aunt Tami, or whatever name fits) always made this or did this during the holidays?
I also know that flexibility is good too. This year I couldn't have found all my fall decorations if I tried so I decided to use nature and whatever else the Lord sent my way. I won a little engraved pumpkin and a candle as prizes at the Wings Conference and the kids and I gathered acorns and pinecones from our yard. I have a beautiful fireplace mantel and I wanted to decorate it for fall and little by little it was filled with beautiful fall decor.
This time of year I feel an excitement building up in me. It's time for the holidays. I can't resist getting the cookbooks out and while we sit in the living room watching a movie I'm marking the ones I want to try to make. This year for Thanksgiving I decided we'd have to have the pumpkin cake I made at Jennibeth's house when we spent Thanksgiving with them.
It was after Thanksgiving and she and I were wanting to make a dessert but we'd about emptied the pantry out for Thanksgiving. We went scavengering and found a can of pumpkin. I'd gone through some of her cookbooks and found a recipe that called for just flour, sugar, eggs, pumpkin and spices so that was the choice. It called for cream cheese frosting and we didn't have cream cheese so I made cooked caramel (I call it penuche but nobody knows what that is) frosting on it. Oh, my goodness! It was SO good and became a Thanksgiving keeper at the Neals!
Here's the recipe:
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 1/2 cups pumpkin
2 cups flour, sifted
2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. cinnamon
Combine sugar and oil. Add eggs separately, beating well to combine. Add flour, soda, salt and cinnamon to sugar mixture. Blend thoroughly. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes in pans which have been greased and floured. Makes three (3) 9" round layers.
Now for the frosting.
COOKED CARAMEL FROSTING (EASY PENUCHE FROSTING)
(For this cake I use a double recipe. You can double it if you want, but you'll need a strong arm or a helper in the beating stage! :)
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/4 cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar
Melt butter or margarine in saucepan. Stir in brown sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir over low heat for 2 minutes. Stir in milk; heat to boiling. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm.
Gradually stir in powdered sugar. Place pan of frosting in bowl of ice and water; beat until its of spreading consistency. If frosting becomes too stiff just heat slightly stirring constantly.
I have a little recipe holder with all my very favorite holiday recipes in it. Our Christmas punch recipe, cheeseball recipes, spinach dip, sausage bites, baked macaroni and cheese, Swiss medley (a wonderful full-of-cheese side dish with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, mushroom soup, sour cream and Durkees onions), sweet potato casserole that a died-in-the-wool sweet potato hater will love, all my specialty cheesecake recipes, peanut butter pie, every truffle and fudge recipe you can imagine and the list goes on and on and on in it. My head is already dancing with new ideas to try this year. Can't wait to see what the Lord has in store. I have a new cake ball truffle recipe I wanted to try and someone already brought me some dark chocolate chips they found on clearance. They're tucked back to become truffles!
Because of my love of cooking I like to use fall/holiday baking as an excuse to stop by the neighbors with a pie pan full of goodies and a chance to talk to them. We have a couple near us with failing health and I so want the Lord to use us in their lives. I love it when you knock on a neighbor's door and you can see genuine happiness in their eyes when they open the door and see you standing there. It's also an opportunity to teach our children to help others around us.
John asked me the other day when I was going to be taking the neighbors some goodies and I told him probably this week. He said, "Can we take some to the neighbors with the new kittens, because maybe they'll let me see them when we go!" That struck my funny bone!
We're going to have Brian and Niki with Halle and Evan for Thanksgiving this year and I'm so excited about that. I like a FULL dining room table. The more I have at the table the happier I am! Niki and I are already talking about what we want to have. She's planning on bringing a new pie recipe she found and I'm planning on--well, I can't make up my mind! Too many good things to choose from!
I also am working on Christmas projects this year. The main one that I'm working on is making little nurse's costumes for the little girls in my life. When Niki and Alicia were little my mom made them a nurse's apron and then I made them little hats out of paper. Every time someone got sick at our house we made the couch up into a hospital bed, stuck the humidifier next to the couch (sometimes complete with tent) and the girls became nurses.
Mike Shockley says his first memory of my girls was coming into the house to visit us and one of the boys was sick. He said he remember Niki and Alicia running around in their little nurses costumes and bringing them their needs on a cookie sheet with a tea towel over it. (All meals were served in the hospital bed when you were sick.) They loved being nurses!
So maybe it's memory lane for me but I wanted to make the granddaughters their own nurses costume. My pattern is a really old one but it's so cute. On the cover the little girl has a white turtleneck on and white tights so she looks like the old-fashioned nurse of my childhood that's dressed in all white. I have Halle's all done but getting the waist and hat fit to her perfect size. They're quick to sew and take very little fabric. That's good for the budget!
So tonight I'm listening to Old Fashioned Christian Radio, and thinking about the wonderful blessings of a sweet Christian home, good food, the wonder of fall sunsets, leaves crunching under your feet, having the blessing of grown children, grandchildren and children still around me to fellowship with each and every day, the joy of being a woman, wife, mother and grandmother and so many, many other blessings. How can we begin to thank the Lord for his daily benefits!
I pray you're having a wonderful fall season and that your walk with the Lord is real and personal. May God bless you all!