She’s Doing the Happy Dance!

No, it’s not because I’m nipping on the Smirntopf. I’ve met my November 30th deadlines and it makes me footloose and fancy free.

But back to the Smirntopf. If you follow my blog you know that way back in the summer I was inspired by Rosella to try making Rumtopf but I called mine Smirntopf because I used Smirnoff Vodka with the fruit and sugar instead of Rum. Here’s another post about Rumtopf on Rosella’s blog.

This is what it looked like when we added the last bit of fruit, sugar, and vodka and before we stirred and strained it.

Dear and I stirred the Smirntopf and strained our Smirntopf and have a pot of the fruit wondering what we will do with it. After straining the liquid from the fruit I stirred it real good and strained it again through cheesecloth before I filled the containers.

Now I’m wondering who might enjoy a little container of our Smirntopf…

Today is the last day of November and I have some final Grace Challenge thoughts to post.

I’m thankful for the inspiration and encouragement from my blogging friends.

I’m thankful to God that he gave me the words I needed to complete a project.

I’m thankful that we are entering the Christmas season and I’m turning my thoughts to focusing on Jesus during Advent.

When we focus on all we’ve been given it’s easier to give. At our church our pastor said “Grateful people give in response to God’s grace.”

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
~ 2 Corinthians 8:9

My brother had a great suggestion for continuing the Grace Challenge.

“As you enter the advent season, a season traditionally marked by gift giving (graciousness) make your giving not out of obligation but truly out of grace.  Here are some Grace Challenge encouragements for your gift giving, for your abundance of good deeds:

  1. Make a list of the people you are buying gifts for this Christmas season in your Grace Challenge Notebook.
  2. Pray for them daily; Give thanks for them daily.
  3. With your gift, write a note that expresses the content of your prayer and thanks for the person you have been gracious towards. Use Ephesians 1 and Colossians 1 as examples for your writing and prayer.
  4. Believe that your prayer and thanksgiving is worth more than the monetary value of the gift given. “


The Marine Birthday Ball ~ Oorah!

Our daughter and son-in-law attended their first Marine Birthday Ball last Friday in Wilmington, North Carolina. Last year during the ball Andrew was in Afghanistan. We are happy he is home this year to experience the fun celebration with Katie.

Day 19 of the grace challenge I am thankful for our son-in-law and his service to our country and for our daughter who supports him in his service. I am ultimately thankful to God for his protection of them.

My daughter was apologetic for not taking photos of the table scapes at the Ball. She said, “Sorry I missed the tablescapes and the food…tables were alternating red on gold(more mustard) and gold on red, with bows on chairs and napkins in alternating colors table by table. Ha! She knows her mother.

We are on the home stretch for our Thanksgiving Celebrations starting on Thursday. Today I’m making my lists! I know our Canadian neighbors celebrated Thanksgiving over a month ago. Are you preparing for Thanksgiving or are you preparing for Christmas?

People Of Grace

Yesterday my brother shared a post about People of Grace in his life and it inspired me to do the same. He also noted these were “People God has deliberately put in your life”. The first people I thought of were my birth family and extended family.

Dear’s side of our family. (Photo by Jeremy Leffel)

My side or our family. (Photo by Jeremy Leffel)

Over the years different siblings have played a more significant role in extending me grace. For my “Washington” years my youngest siblings have been the most consistent grace givers in my life with lots of phone calls and touches in my life.

The next obvious grace giver in my life is my Dear.

I’m very thankful to God that my children have extended me grace over the years for my failures in parenting. They are a huge encouragement to me. (Photo by Jeremy Leffel)

Now I start looking outside my family circle and consider others along the way that God has used in my life and blessed my life with. Maybe they also were those who God used to sharpen me. Those who challenged me to become more Christ like by words and example. Of course these friendships only remain if that grace is extended both ways.

Some of my earliest good friendships started in junior high with Nanc and Judy. Just before Dear and I moved back to Washington I was able to reconnect with Nanc through Facebook and we got together a few times. I’m happy that God brought Nanc back into my life and we were able to fill in the gaps of what had happened to us over the last 40 years.

Heidi my best buddy from Bethany Baptist Church and Jeanie my best buddy from Cal-State L.A. Jeanie ended up marrying my cousin Jim. I love how God brought the 3 of us and our hubbies to a close friendship with each other.

When we moved to Washington away from both Dear and my families my dear friends and walking buddies Jan and Jody were the grace givers in my life. They became family to me.  We all attended the same church and we went on a few great vacations together. We supported each other through thick and thin and through a lot of suffering.

Our son Dan became best friends with this young man, Jamie, in grade school and through Dan and Jamie’s friendship a grace giving friendship was formed between Jamie’s parents and us.  Beth and Dave along with Jamie’s family will be joining us for our Thanksgiving celebration next week. Grace friendships are enduring friendships.

Most of my early and mid life friendships and encounters with Grace givers in my life came from junior high, high school, college, church friends, and neighbors. Now God has used another means to deliberately put people in my life. I’m still amazed at the friendships and grace givers God has given me through the internet.

My dear friend and walking buddy from Camarillo, Willow. We met through our mutual blogs and then were brave enough to meet over coffee in person. God had this friendship in mind for us and after that coffee meeting we walked regularly every week for the years Dear and I lived in Camarillo.  I miss my walking buddy and grace giver, Willow.

Another internet miracle of grace God has given me are the Mennonite Girls. God deliberately plopped me in the middle of this group of ladies. I’m thankful to God for these girls that have filled in the gaps of friendship for me. They are true grace givers and sharpeners in my life.

I have so many other bloggy friends that are gracious to me and encourage me. I’m thankful to God for using their words on their blogs to sharpen me and inspire me to be more Christlike. Pam, Cori, Karin, Rosemary, Pondside, Kathie, Sandy, Kathleen, Miss Debbie, Rosella, LaDonna, Karen, Elle, Lisa, Vee, Sara, Ann, Wendy, Jill, Pat, Gumbo Lily and more…thank you so much for sharing God’s grace in your lives and extending that grace to me.

Our First Frosty Mornings…

We have had a cold spell in the Seattle area. It’s fun to see the frosty leaves in the morning.

Clear nights have meant colder days. I love the fact that the leaves are even falling on top of the full yard waste bin. The sun crowns the yard waste bin with a lovely glow…

This is going to be a full week filled with fun gatherings. Tuesday is my Women’s Bible Study morning.  We are meeting one of the Mennonite Girls and her husband in downtown Seattle on Wednesday. Thursday we have our small group here. On Friday we are heading across the line to another of the Mennonite Girls for a dinner party.  Hope you all have some fun gatherings to look forward to.

In this month of the Grace Challenge I’m thankful to God for friends and gatherings that encourage and bless us. Don’t miss today’s Grace Challenge post one of our Mennonite Girls is mentioned in it!

Veteren’s Day Weekend


We are dry and cold for a few days here in the Seattle area.


We’ve had some significant frost the last couple mornings. The heat has been on all day.


Today I’m working on one of my two remaining recipes that need to be completed for our new cookbook. Josh and Laura will help us partake in the finished product. It’s going to be a very fancy Saturday lunch! Here’s hoping the photos are right the first time around.

I tried to find a red poppy to be able to wear for Remembrance Day and didn’t have any luck. I guess I should have started looking earlier on line.

Today is the 10th day of November. Here are 10 specific things that I haven’t mentioned before that I am thankful to God for this month.

1. My husband who works hard and lets me spend the money he makes without complaining.

2. Being able to buy ingredients for meals and sharing those meals.

3. Fall crisp clear beautiful mornings that make me praise God.

4. My parents who are still alive and thriving with gratitude to God.

5. Girlfriends who pray for me.

6. Northshore Baptist Church and all they do for our community.

7. Our small group with 13 very unique individuals who care for each other.

8. Electricity and gas that powers everything we need for our comfort.

9. Grocery stores with their shelves stocked to the brim with everything we need.

10. My bloggy friends who share creative and encouraging things for me to see and read.

Hope your weekend is a thankful one! Blessings…

Don’t miss these fun treats over at MGCC today!


Grace Challenge Continues

The Grace Challenge continues and I am thankful to God that I can enjoy soccer with our son and daughter in law!

The Seattle Sounders won their game tonight which means they’ll be going to the Western Conference Finals against L.A. Galaxy. We are so excited here in Seattle.

On Thursday I was able to mow the lawn because we’ve had a couple dry days. It really was mostly mowing leaves and I filled every bin we have. We are going to have to buy those yard waste bags that Home Depot sells to pick up the rest of the leaves.  Friday is going to be cold around here with the high in the 40’s. It’s clear and cold and beautiful. Hows the end of your week going?

Speaking of the Grace Challenge this guest post was really good to read today!

It’s Worth it…

…to have to rake all these leaves.

I am grateful for 4 distinct seasons. Growing up in southern California I didn’t get the joy of seasons like I do in the Pacific Northwest. The fall colors, the crisp mornings, the crunch of our first frost. These are all enjoyed by me.

We took down the patio covers so they wouldn’t be destroyed in high winds and snow later in the winter. They probably won’t go back up till next May.

While I’m typing here, Dear is out blowing all the leaves into one big pile. Our yard waste bins, 4 of them, are all full already. After the yard waste is collected tomorrow I’ll work on filling the bins back up from the big pile Dear is building right now.

This post does have something in common with Steve’s Grace Challenge post today on being thankful in your work.

What are you thankful or grateful for today?

Wrapping It Up…

This will be the final post from our time at Dan’s.

This is one of the horses that live next door coming over to say hi.

Several White Tail Deer come to visit to eat apples, plums or cherries from Dan’s trees.

We are looking forward to visiting again to take care of more projects on the property. Because of weather that visit probably won’t happen till the Spring.

Today I’m thankful for Dan’s good neighbors (besides the horses and deer). These neighbors all look out for each other and each other’s properties. It is good for this mom’s heart knowing even though Dan lives out alone on several acres there are those who know he is there and watch out for him.

The Grace Challenge continues with specific things I am grateful to God for. I’m also thankful for the chance to celebrate Communion today and remembering with gratitude what Christ has done for me.

Day by Day…

We will give thanks for all the wonderful things we’re given and we enjoy.

It’s no secret around my blog that we enjoy food. Food from our own kitchen and food from other kitchens is appreciated and enjoyed. I thank God today that we have the resources to make good things in our kitchen and that we can afford eating out at nice restaurants. While in Chewelah we re-visited The Chalet Restaurant for breakfast. I’m sure this will be a spot we frequent when we visit our son.

I’m also thankful for a free weekend. We don’t have any engagements this weekend and we are happy to just be able to putz around the house.

What are you thankful for today?

Inspiration to Shoot…

I’m thankful today for fellow bloggers who inspire me to look at the big picture and the beauty in the details. Karen at Ocean Soul is one of those bloggers along with her co-blogger Jukavo who inspire me with their photography.

Here are some of my artsy fartsy shots from Dan’s place…

This post and the rest of my posts in the month of November will be connected to the Grace Challenge I’m participating in. Here’s a quote from my brother’s blog about grace:

“Grace may be the word that best summarizes Christianity. In English, “grace” is connected to two other important words that teach us a response to grace: Gratitude and Graciousness.

Here is how it works. First and foremost, our life, salvation and everything in between is a result of the grace of God. Every breath I take is a grace of God. I cannot be saved apart from grace. Grace emphasizes and points to God as the center. Life is all about Him. He reveals Himself to me not by force, but by grace.”

To read the whole post click here.

I want to continue being specific in my thankfulness. I’m really thankful for digital photography. Digital photography affords me failure in photo taking while at  the same time giving me an incredible chance of shooting a beauty. God does the same thing for me through grace. I fail and he picks me up and He lets me try again and with His help He makes things good for me.

Hope your week has gone well. This weekend ends daylight savings. Don’t forget to fall back an hour!