Melancholy Christmas Music

I am busy today cooking for Christmas Eve festivities with my family. I am chopping up veggies to go with dip. I am cooking chicken to make a chicken cilantro bisque soup. While at the counter chopping away, I have the Youtube channel on a medley of old Christmas songs from the 60’s. All of a sudden my emotions well up within me as I remember songs from that era during my childhood. My father was a classical cellist. He was always busy during Christmas playing in churches and symphonies. His love for music ran deep. He especially loved songs by Perry Como, Nat King Cole and Andy Williams at Christmas.

I was stirred when I heard one of my father’s favorites. It was entitled “Hark Now Here The Angels Sing.” The words expound on the true reason why we celebrate Christmas. We need to reflect on the peace and hope that Jesus offers. There are many divided throughout our country due to the pandemic and political debates. Many have gotten way off-track and want to squelch any joy found through Christ and Christmas.

Up until now, I have done well holding it together. I guess I have tried staying busy to avoid thoughts of the sad state of our country and world. Music has a way of cutting through the barriers. If we allow it, it can bring healing by allowing our emotions to surface. We need to cry sometimes, for the health of our mental state as it is unhealthy to bury our feelings.

Musicians throughout history poured our their hearts through music. Listen to the songs of the 40s during World War II or the 60s during the Vietnam. Many were inspired to offer us hope for the future. Christmas especially is a time when we look for hope. We reflect upon the past year and are ready to embrace the new year with a fresh perspective and determination to right wrongs from the past and make a better future. Something about human nature has this will-power and resilience. Yet, as soldiers of the cross, we must reflect on Christ coming down to earth to bring salvation to the world. The great commission has charged us while we are here to offer His gift to as many as will receive it.

If you are reading this and don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, He wants to offer you hope in the future because of His great love for you. He has a plan and purpose for your life. His gift is free if you will only accept it. Ask Him today to be your Lord, and to forgive you for your sins. He alone can offer you a hope that can not be found in this world.

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A Handcrafted Woodsy Christmas

I have been challenging myself to make and repurpose Christmas decorations this year. I don’t need to add to my ever-growing stash of store-bought ornaments from many years.

I enjoy tweaking the theme or colors from year to year. I have been favoring decorations of a more rustic vibe the past couple years since we moved into a cottage styled home. I have started by creating decorations inspired by nature or the woodlands.

This year I decided to bring down my white flocked Christmas tree in the living room. I wanted to add touches of blue to go with my living room furniture so I decided to see what I could make on my own, using what I already had. I found some deep blue velvet and scraps of material in variations of blue and white. These were some pieces I found in a box I have saved all these years from my grandmother’s things. They are a part of the sentimental keepsakes that I have kept because they remind me of her and her love for sewing. First, I made a bunting garland out of the fabric scraps. Then I made some signs, using a stencil for the lettering. I already had the striped stars from a project in the past. I made the cardboard stars from toilet paper rolls another year. I cut out the velvet in circles, glued them to cereal box cardboard and embellished them with stenciled snowflakes and silver tinsel pipe cleaners. I found some decorative wooden furniture circles in my craft supplies. I painted them blue and aged them with white paint which I dry-brushed on them. They turned out looking like denim which I liked a lot.

In my kitchen, I always have a rustic tree. I use red, green, black and white decorations in there. I added woodland creatures to decorate that tree last year. One year I made some elves with pinecones, red felt and pillow stuffing. Another year I made some ornaments with miniature figures on top of old spice tins. This year I added the mushroom decorations that were from my stash of gardening items in the garage.

I found a porcelain village collection in my attic. I painted it white with silver accents for a winter wonderland display on my mantel. I added fairy lights to give it a little sparkle and magical feel.

Here is what it all looks like. I hope you enjoy it. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday Jesus!

Blue and white striped star.

Fabric bunting garland and wooden medallion.

Spice tin ornament with Christmas elf.
Mushroom ornament

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Dusting Off The Old Sewing Machine Out of Necessity

I am wondering how many of you are like me and have begun trying to find outfits online during the COVID pandemic.

To say challenging is an understatement. I once was able to go to a store and try on an outfit before purchasing. This is how I truly knew if I liked the way it would fit and look on me not just the cuteness factor on the hanger. Through the last 18 months, the stores haven’t allowed you to try things on. We have to take them home and bring them back if they don’t suit or fit. That inevitably means another trip to the store which was a hassle the first time. I confess to buying some items online to avoid making multiple trips to stores and to give me a pick me up with a new purchase.

I like to know what the feel of the fabric is like. I like cotton in particular because it is cool and looks classy. I have been disappointed to say the least with my online purchases. Most things that are sold are rayon, polyester or blends. I didn’t like it in the 70’s and I don’t like it now. However, it seems that it packs well with few wrinkles and cheaply can be shipped because it is lightweight. Yet, it is not appealing when I try it on.

I try to look modern with some updated patterns and designs. The models always look amazing online. I am careful to pick more conservative styles yet I still am unimpressed when I receive items in the mail. This makes two dresses now that I have received that look like a tent is missing from the circus even though I tried to pick a form-slimming design.

Returning items by mail is also a hassle I hope to avoid plus I don’t like to admit to defeat. So what can I do? I am trying to refashion my purchases in a way that I can wear them with some sense of overall satisfaction. This means having to sew. I haven’t tried to sew much clothing in years. I remember making a peasant top in junior high school for my home economics class. It turned out pretty well as it was very basic. We were not taught much in the way of how to make alterations to make things fit better. This is a whole new experience for me. It doesn’t seem hard to cut a shape as we used to for patterns. I could use clothing I already own for the basic template then sewing a basic line is easy enough. I have decided I might as well give it a try.

The first shift I received was too wide with pockets and too long. I have cut down the sides and the bottom to a more rectangular shape and less of an a shape. The second shift-tent will be turned into a tunic top as it was way too wide and a-framed again as a dress.

I am not as petite as I used to be but am definitely not ready to look like I am wearing a housecoat from Mama’s Family.

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God’s Construction Zone

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When I was young and not yet three,

I had a date with destiny,

I was struck on some ice by a sliding car,

Not hearing them shout “Stay put where you are,”

My mother shrieked and the police came quick,

Rescuing me where the road was slick,

I was rushed for care to my wounded head,

My father was crazed thinking I was dead,

I got stitched where the blood soaked wet,

It seemed that God was not through with me yet.

That was long ago,

I have scars that remain,

I have had other hurts that have caused other pain,

There are other occasions as life has gone by,

Yet my God still reminds me, “Hold on, you must try.

I still want to use you.

There’s a goal still unmet.”

It must be because He is not through with me yet.

Susanne Kessaris

May 16, 2021

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Adding Pops of Color To My Garden

This is the second gardening season at my new house. I am still working on the bones, so to speak,of my garden. It is helpful to get familiar with sunny and shady spots in your yard as well as challenging soil conditions. I am beginning to learn this about my new yard.

We began with some basic foundational plants last year. Now, I am ready to add some pops of color. I love yellow and chartreuse colored plants. I think they brighten up a bed significantly. I have been scouring the gardening centers for several weeks. I am finally beginning to see plants with interesting variations in yellow. Most of the plants I have found have partial sun requirements which is good for my yard where I have lots of trees and shady areas. Sometimes you will be successful by experimenting and stretching the recommended requirements just a bit.

Creeping Jenny

I have a few yellow to chartreuse plants already in my yard. I brought some Creeping Jenny from my last yard. I planted some Sunshine Ligustrum beside the house and some Lemon Coral Sedum by the front walkway last fall. I added some yellow heuchera to the front bed. The last few weeks I have been scouring the gardening centers for new plants with yellow foliage. I found dwarf Gold Mop Cypress, False Holly Goshiki, and Miss Lemon Abelia at Home Depot. I have been making bi- weekly visits as their spring shipments have been coming in. I found some variegated sweet flag at a center in an adjoining town.

Lemon Coral Sedum
Miss Lemon Abelia
False Holly Goshiki

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Creative Gardening Part Two

In addition to recruiting younger family members to dig holes, there are other ways to make gardening tasks easier as we age. I could try to use an auger to dig holes in the ground for my plants. Yet, I admit to being afraid of using power tools and risking the chance of hurting myself.

Another option is to do more gardening in flower pots. I love to watch gardening videos on Youtube. One of my faves is Linda Vater in Oklahoma. She is the queen of the topiary garden. I saw her human sized cut out at Lowes the other day while I was perusing the garden department. She must have a new contract working with them to promote their products. I have begun experimenting with this hobby but it takes months and even years to get the wanted results from cutting and trimming a plant to get the perfect conical or ball shape.

Gardening requires patience and for those of us beginning a new garden at an older age, it is frustrating if we want an instant garden. It is also expensive and backbreaking to purchase fully developed specimens of plants or to hire out a landscaper to create the perfect design at the onset.

I am trying to be patient and let my garden evolve slowly. To save money and my back I have begun to propagate plants myself. I have begun purchasing bulbs at the garden center to start growing them earlier indoors before the next growing season. The only drawback is lack of space for a greenhouse or lack of the right growing conditions to have success. For now, I have set up a potting bench that my husband got me for Christmas inside the garage next to a window. Hopefully my plants will get enough sun and warmth to begin to emerge from their dormant state. It is just a start but will keep you posted on the progress.

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Creative Gardening After 60

And just like that, I am 60. I don’t know how it happened but I am officially “older” than the dirt. My mind still thinks I am 40 but my body wants to slow me down. It is frustrating but I am determined to stay active and continue to do the things I love.

One of my favorite hobbies is gardening. At the first sign of spring, you can find me puttering around in my yard spying emerging bulbs as they poke through the soil. I begin making a stash of plants to set out in a corner of the garage. I take frequent trips to the garden center to find new and unusual varieties of plants with interesting flowers and foliage.

I still envision a beautifully, manicured garden oasis. Slowly,… slower than last year, it is coming along. I used to very ambitiously pick out trees, shrubs and plants in 3 gallon sized pots and haul them home in the back of my SUV then plant them myself. Those days are gone. Now, I seek plants in 1 gallon pots. My selection is becoming more limited. I find flowers and perennials in smaller sizes but it is becoming more difficult to find shrubs or trees in that size container.

I have begun recruiting my thirty-something aged children to do gardening projects for me. If they want to know what Mom wants for her birthday, Christmas or Mother’s Day I usually say I don’t need a thing but sure could use their time to help me when it is time to do some gardening. It would be great if I could ask for a honey-do coupon to save for sometime in the year when I need a hole dug in the yard.

Last weekend, the weather was warm enough for one such project that I have been asking about for quite some time. My daughter was willing to dig two holes since the ground was soft from all the rain we have had this winter.

I found two Black Diamond crepe myrtles for our new yard, last spring. They have been sitting in their nursery pots for almost a year now. The leaves have not come out yet and I am not quite sure they are even still alive. I did the scrape test and found some green inside a twig which is usually a sign of life.

I am proud to say that they have now been planted. I am thrilled and can’t wait to see them come back to life. I am like a proud new mama! I check on my babies often, nurturing them along by watering and feeding them as they grow and develop.

I may be getting older but still feel young as long as I can take part in gardening with all its therapeutic and creative attributes.

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