(Note: I was going to schedule this post, but just in case there is someone who might benefit and want to order for Easter…I think there is just a day or two left for delivery by Easter)
With Easter soon upon us, I am SO very excited to share about a company that is new to us.
For many years we have purchased Amanda’s Own Confections. I always buy the Lamb Chocolate lollipops for our Love Baskets at Easter. And I buy little foil wrapped Easter figures that I place in Easter Eggs. I am still buying from them but we have never really expanded into all the different things they offer due to the expense. The chocolate is dark and is not the favorite for some of the children. They are high quality and delicious and I always experience great service.
No Whey Chocolates came across my facebook feed a month ago or so. I think I saw it on the Allergic Living page. Then I saw an ad or two… then, I checked them out. I saw that they were distributing Chocolate Easter Bunnies to Wegman’s. I was intrigued.
The Easter offerings (some of which are sold out and no longer pictured) looked so fun!
I ordered and I emailed. I was reassured that the company is
dedicated Top 8 free, Kosher, Vegan, Gluten-Free,(and no artificial colors or flavors!) and batch test/sample ingredients.
It is very, very, very hard to find truly safe chocolate candy. It is one of the most dangerous foods for milk allergy.
I am so glad I discovered this company and everything was just as we hoped and just as they said!
I dreamed about the treats arriving and all of my children being able to taste, try, and enjoy.
And the day they came- was just like I imagined! We moved carefully (and slowly as always) with Asher. He is the true litmus test. He passed! He has passed every thing he has tried and loved (almost) all. We all have!
The Just Great Candy offerings are alternatives for typical favorites like M and M’s; Hershey Bars; and Snickers Bars. And they are delicious.
Most of my children have never had an M an M or Candy Bar.
These treats are definitely items I will put in the Boy Scout Camp food bins as well as in packed dinners for Sports Away Games.
They are delightful for Tea Parties.
The delight on my teen boys’ faces -especially the two who have never had a Candy Bar (until now)- is a joy to behold.
Our favorites are the Choco No-No’s, the No Whey Bar, the Milkless Bar, the mini peaNot cups, and the mini-cream Easter Veggs. The Peek-A-Boos are super fun, too.
The names seem odd to me and it is hard to say them- but the candy is terrific! I listed the favorites because, when I was choosing what to order, I looked at what people highly rated and it helped.
Yay for No Whey Chocolates! An awesome allergic lifestyle food find!
I can’t remember if I shared this before on this blog. We are celebrating God’s Love and this is the poem selection that was supposed to grace our Table. Valentine’s Day celebrated better late than never! Note: I never cared to celebrate Valentine’s Day for years and years…finding it a holiday that can wreak emotional havoc. However, I have discovered that it is a perfect ministry opportunity to pour out love and grace upon my family. So, now I celebrate wholeheartedly for the Lord and for the grace He has poured out in my life.
George Herbert, 1593 – 1633
Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.
“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here”:
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”
“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.
Christmas Eve is a delicious cacophony of papers and recipes; half wrapped gifts, tumbles of brown boxes, Shepherd’s Meal, the every year, hand crafted savory potato soup and crusty bread filling the house, wafting under everyone’s noises and stirring up delight and good memorizes. Zinging the tongue.
It is the final Advent gather round the table with singing and scripture and candle gleam.
Cookies in tins and small, excited children too tingly to sleep.
Half finished this and that spread everywhere.
It’s A Wonderful Life and The Christmas Carol. Wee hours with wrapping and cooking and candles.
Christmas Day is Cinnamon Rolls and Egg with Bacon Bake. Clementines in a clear bowl and candy canes. Cookie platters. It is darlings lined up on the stairs and fire crackling. It is gifts and their adorable excited jumping. It is coffee, lots of coffee. It is enjoying each other and enjoying the love and eight siblings in hand-knitted hats.
It is a Christmas Bunny and red pajamas. It is surprises. It is books, always books. Hand written notes, and hand-crafted gifts.
It is loading up and packing up- for its off to Grandmother’s House we go-
with Andrew Peterson’s Behold The Lamb, with one amazing Toby Mac CD, with Focus on the Family’s Christmas Carol audio drama-
we’re on our way for Christmas dinner!
And now, its the quiet pause as the year breathes its last. As the new page turn is just days away. Days to rest and soak; reflect and readjust.
I am grateful for this week. This break. This pause. This house, all topsy turvey, needing to be put to rights. Tasty leftovers in fridge and crock-pot.
It’s Christmas Time!
So many mistakes, I just edited out of this entry. I think its also time for a nap! 🙂
Here is a little posy, a ribbon wrapped offering
of Christmas- tide treasures:
A sweet and simple Advent reading schedule – I am enjoying this! The Jesus Storybook Bible is poetic and lyrical and wholeheartedly focused on Christ. There is creative license taken with some stories (in my opinion). This free download contains scheduled readings all mapped out and beautiful artwork. I cuddled a sweet girlie on my lap today and we enjoyed this so much.
Golden Hours– This is a delicious blog published entirely in honor of Advent season and Christmas time. It is beyond lovely. So beautiful. Perfect for stolen moments with a steaming mug and some quiet. I have been reading Lanier’s words for many years, now. Her home blog is a treasure. This joint endeavor, a delight. This is a favorite! from Golden Hours: Advent Meditations 1
Sally Clarkson and Kristen Kill on Christmas Traditions – Lovely line-up of books at the bottom of the blog post and a podcast link, too!
Ishtar’s Odyssey: A Family Story for Advent– this series has been an exciting part of our holiday season for many years, now…and Ishtar is new this year! This is a Daddy read aloud and it is challenging to find the time. But..we are doing the best we can.. I was delighted when several children eagerly asked if we were going to be reading these books again this year.
Poems we are enjoying:
An offering of beauty, my friends! As I started to write, the ideas and books just kept coming… trying to keep this small and simple.
Walking into Church and “Come Thou Fount” was playing… and all for the little girl whose heart lit right up hearing “her song” and how the words have driven down deep into this heart weaving their narrative with my own
perfecting her dance move(a lovely little skip) with every step of her “greenway” walk, and she danced the entire way(M)
my hand in his, my head tucked against his chin, sweet closeness
my girl, the day after her aunt ( the bunny queen) came and encouraged her and her brother in their care of Pippin and in what a truly wonderful little bunny he is… my girl must have told me at least three times, all aglow… and O, the coos and loves lavished on our little man. Those words meant so much.
Brown Paper Packages piled under our tree, to be opened all December long. Read long and soak the season. Yes.
Piano Guys: A Family Christmas, George Winston: December, Andrew Peterson: Behold the Lamb, Chris Rice: Living Room Sessions- Christmas
Cello. Utter, unexpected gorgeousness.
A clean bedroom and refreshed knobs on all the dressers. Sigh, happy.
Tree up and small girls with hands raised in excitement, dark silhouettes in front of the tree, gentle fingers exploring the treasures
finding a rainbow heart I colored just for her and she runs and hugs my leg and then…twirling with it… I hear her little voice, “Mommy loves me!” O my darling, yes!
Holding a sweet blondie on my lap and missing those days… when she needed to be held so much more. Grateful for a tall brother who met that need…but I miss. I miss. She still fits. I tuck her under my chin and sing. Small ones after their bath are so delicious.
Christmas carols round the breakfast table and first Advent candle lit
Pippin the perfect- for our family- bunny.
Flowers on my table
A nativity arranged
Joshua and a sunset romp, wild and free
the day we were out in the yard and I watched her run and spin and twirl and chase a butterfly and it was just…so like her. So her.
There is almost nothing that can calm and still my heart and all atwirl-ing mind…like, sitting quiet and going deep and counting grace gifts.Seeing.This fights the darkness and the whelming flood. It fights discouragement and heartache. There is almost nowhere else I feel most alive, most myself, most real.
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
“The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
So, I am going to extend this shy invitation: Keep Christmas with me? Count grace gifts?
Found in Him,
Our day is still going strong with a rousing game of Lego Champion and children gathered in the family room with Dad while little ones have been tucked in and are sleeping sweetly (finally) after their full and adventuresome day (no nap). And O! how the roars of laughter are making me grin. (update: Joshua is the victor!and the thrill!!)
I am at the computer with a steaming mug next to me (being a complete caffeine rebel as I finish my coffee from earlier this evening- it is a small mug, a tea cup, really. 🙂 )
I have felt tucked deep in, today. Tucked deep and unable to reach out with words. I am grateful for the way the day has rolled and every sweet moment we were able to celebrate from the walk at “our greenway” to the devotions, movies, and music. I am thankful for the memories being crafted round a game table right now and for the serendipitous ideas to put framed words on our dessert table and photo books on the coffee table. (Thinking of you, so much, Elizabeth with those photo books and all you do in and through yours and the testimony of what they mean to your children.) Celebrating with photo books is a strong act of faith for me as there is so much in me that struggles there and has for many years.
I am thankful for the phone call from my brother and the texts and emails from my family. My words are tucked in deep. How I love you and thank God for you!
I am thankful for the encouraging words from a dear son who reads these words here and tells me how much he enjoys it and encourages me to keep on.
Grateful for all the beauty in the midst. This year I learned that I really can create Thanksgiving with only one cook day and a partial clean day. The house wasn’t (isn’t) to the standard I truly prefer and I think this was the source of some of my inward and outward! turmoil. I was very sorrowful and concerned over this change in our routine as for many years we always cooked two full days and cleaned for one. There was no way that could happen this year. I was sad and worried! I struggled a lot with attitude and temper and fatigue this holiday. I know it is stress related, and I am sorry for that. There were also some rocky teen encounters and some challenging three year old encounters. 🙂 I try to remember that sweetness and relationships are more important and if I can’t reach my desire and standard without having a melt down, I need to let it go. I do. I think this is the source of some of my sorrow and also not knowing how to truly relax in this season (of life and time of year). I feel at odds and unsettled when it is perfectly acceptable to rest and refresh. It is also hard to feel that freshness when a need arises any minute from one of any of my children that requires something of me. Thinking on this…just a little.I have had to let a lot go within this year with balancing a very busy school year and it is hard for me. I am “okay” in the moment, but then when push comes to shove and I am in the thick of it, I struggle with the things I had to let go of. I need to remember the lessons from my pregnancy years. I am remembering…
I am overwhelmingly, astoundingly grateful, thankful, beyond words- yes, speechless with thanks for our good health, the health of the children thus far this year. The life we have been able to live this year so far(full throttle for everyone) and so healthy. When I remember last year, even last year’s Thanksgiving post, I am mute with praise. I know it is the Hepa filter/UV light and I am so thankful.
I have been plagued by unsettled feelings of seasons changing and children growing up. I know I need to keep my focus straight before me where there are precious ones to tend and invest in. I know I need to hold everything with a loose hand before the Lord and it is all good because He is in it. Help me to delight in each one, Lord! Help me to walk with You and follow You!
Every year we refine a little bit… and this year we have added to our routine by creating a breakfast tradition and adding warm cider as a component to our dinner.
Todd brought home the biggest turkey we have ever had Monday night. 26.5 pounds. It had to be squished hard into our roaster and then smoked the house out with a bit of overflowing juice. Almost nixed our walk, but he fixed it and we made it! The deviled eggs took on a luxurious new take as I, with great haste and much generosity, over did the mayo and spicy mustard. They were the very last item I made on Wednesday. I had been cooking all day. I had had one very insistent little helper all day and I had made many recipes with different children (challenging for introvert me). On the last recipe with my wee girl on the chair next to me. Could hardly see what I was doing and just winged it. Thankfully, everyone liked them. But they certainly are ….different. We didn’t make steamed veggies this year like we usually do. Todd and I casually decided we wouldn’t have pumpkin roll and then learned that this was a very important part of Thanksgiving and that I had told the two children assigned to this recipe(last year) that this year they would get to make it all by themselves. So, we added that back onto the menu. They almost did the entire thing all on their own. Impressive! I tried to make chocolate pie with the twins again. I was so flustered, I added ingredients in wrong and it was not at all the fun experience it was supposed to be.I also forgot to put that pie out on the dessert table, so as of now, I have no idea how it turned out! I saved the day for the twins by having them shape the rolls with me. Norah helped with the sweet potato bake this year (along with many other things. Grin. She is a maker and a doer and I think, an extrovert!)
Blueberry Cobbler Cake, Fried Eggs
Warm Cider, Orange Ginger Mint tea (for me! Perfect after dinner tea! thank you dear Courtney!),Water, Coffee
Roasted Turkey,Mashed Potatoes,Sweet Potato Bake,Sweet Potato Casserole (healthified for me),Italian Salad,Cranberry Relish,Holiday Rolls,Deviled Eggs,Broccoli Salad
Open faced apple pie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Bars, Pumpkin Roll, Jewish Apple Cake, Chocolate Cream Pie
Blessed Thanksgiving and Advent dear friends!
It’s Thanksgiving Bake and Cook Day at our house today!
We cook with an extravagance of eggs in great joy. What once was lost, has been restored, and it never gets old. We celebrate our Thanksgiving with deep and abiding glee! I believe this is our seventh Thanksgiving with eggs. This is the tipping year. The year that tips us over onto the other side. Where, we will now begin to have eggs freely longer than we were without. Significance!
The Spirit has been bringing a beloved family hymn right to the forefront in these present days. And we are “raising Ebeneezers”, truly we rejoice in the work of the Lord! There are many versions of this treasured hymn. This is merely one of them and not quite the whole way we sing it- but Chris Rice! Love.
I shared the following thoughts and verses with a small group of sweet girls during a November knitting time. I want to memorialize them here, too. We have been reflecting on these verses and quotes for a few weeks. It is good to let them sink, deep in.
Psalm 50:23 ESV
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!
Psalm 69:30 ESV
I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and the pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in ink. G.K. Chesterton
The unthankful heart…discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings! Henry Ward Beecher
This day has not been without its jarring disillusionment and stresses. Tensions are high with the stress of this school year and a littlest one who lives outside the box. I love that but I also cannot deny it has its challenges- especially this year, this Thanksgiving cook day. And I just feel honest in scribing it here. I keep the good. I find mending, forgiveness, grace, and healing in the hard and I just can’t quite shake the tinge of sadness I feel. Help me embrace the day and every season Lord. You are in this place and journeying with You is never stagnant- and You care for me, too.
Blessed Thanksgiving friends! Truly we rejoice in all the Lord has done and we huddle under the wings of His great mercy.
Joying with you,