Monday, November 18, 2013

Yummeee, Orange Cocoa Sandies Recipe

Orange Cocoa Sandies. If you like the flavor combination of chocolate and orange, these will more than please your taste buds.

Years ago, a segment on a local news show included "Mr. Food." This fellow in a chef's cap would share simple recipes. One morning he told the audience the following recipe, and I've used it ever since. It's a chocolate variation of the almond flavored cookie known by these two names: Wedding Crescents or Pecan Sandies.

Let me know if you try them and how you like them. You may roll them in cocoa powder or confectioner's sugar.

Orange Cocoa Sandies

1 cup (2 sticks butter, softened)
1 3/4 all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar, divided
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon orange extract

Preheat over to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat the butter, flour, 1 cup confectioner's sugar, the cocoa, pecans and extract for 2-3 minutes, or until well blended. Drop by teaspooonfuls about 1 inch apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until set. Allow to cool slightly, then dust with the remaining 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar. Serve, or store in an air-tight container until ready to serve. 
Recipe posted by Cathy Messecar

Friday, November 15, 2013

Family Prayers for Christmas Card Senders

Christmas Card Prayer Basket - Trish Berg

Wow, it's hard to believe November is already here, and Christmas is just around the bend.

As you prepare your Christmas card list, choose cards and get organized, I wanted to share a neat tip with you.

Over the month of December, you will be receiving tons of Christmas cards in the mail. Some of you may hang your cards over doorways or place them on fireplace mantels. Those are all neat ways to decorate your home with love.

But here's another thought.

You can place all your Christmas cards in a basket, and every night at supper, have each person in your family randomly draw a card out of the basket, and then go around the dinner table and pray for those families by name.

Then return them to the basket, and know that your prayers were heard.

It's a simple, faithful way to live out your faith in front of your children, and hold up your family and friends in prayer in a real concrete way. Trust God to choose the right cards for you, and know that your prayers are making a difference.

Pinterest Pinner Kimberly Pedroche, bundles her cards by years and displays them each Christmas.
As always, enjoy the journey-Trish
Psalm 118:24

Thursday, November 14, 2013

First Christmas in New Culture

Hey friends, thanks for reading our A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts book-inspired blog.

This year is my first Christmas without my daughter, Laura. Why? She's teaching for two years in the middle-eastern country -- Azerbaijan. She's on a steep learning curve about the Azeri language, culture, and landscape. While I'll desperately miss my sweet Laura, I'm glad she has opportunity to travel and make a positive difference in the lives of her students.

Her tiny country is bordered by the Caspian Sea, Russia, and Turkey (She's going to spend Thanksgiving Day in Turkey, eating turkey in Turkey). She once had opportunity to visit their mud volcanos. Yes, vocano-like formations with warm, runny mud!

Would you like to discover a few cultural differences she'll experience this first Christmas? She will miss
  • Coffee - there's no Starbucks and most of the country's expensive coffee tastes weak to her.
  • Plastic bags - we live in a disposable country but over there, even a small baggie is valuable.
  • Riding her bicycle - adult women are not to ride bikes.
  • Timely Transportation - they have public transportation but, keeping their schedule is optional.
  • Quick Eats - A drive-through? No way! Azeri people make eating a long hospitality event that is always indoors around a table. Laura found out one day, while noshing her lunch on a park bench, that eating outdoors is frowned upon.
Since the country's religion is Islam, she won't be celebrating Christmas in our traditional way.

Have you spent Christmas in a new culture? Leave your comment sharing about your first and what your learned . . . or missed.   ~ Brenda Nixon

Monday, November 11, 2013

Versatile Pine Cones

Versatile Pine Cones

By Karen Robbins

Whether you buy them by the bagful or pick up your own outside, pine cones are one of the most inexpensive and fun ways to decorate for Christmas. Put out a bowlful of cones as a centerpiece. If you purchase the scented cones, it will also fill the room with wonderful cinnamon or pine scents.
Or fill large glass containers/vases with the cones. I take old small colored glass ornaments and sprinkle them in as well. Usually one side gets tarnished and as I layer them with the cones in a large vase, I turn the shiny side out.

From Dollar Store Crafts site, let your little ones make their own miniature Christmas trees with three items: pine cones, small pom-poms, and glue.

Do you have a favorite place for cones in your holiday decorating? Let us know. We love to hear your ideas.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Recipes Treats for Cats and Dogs

Because we are on the road so much, we no longer have furry or feathered pets at home that need a great deal of care while we are gone. We do however have finned friends. Our salt water aquarium contains a yellow tang, a pair of clown fish, and a blue tang as well as a brittle starfish, a sea cucumber, a pair of cleaner shrimp and lots of crabs and snails to help keep the tank clean of alga. They do pretty well on their own with an automatic feeder and timed lights.

While our fish do exhibit some notice of us, they are not the tail-wagging or purring receptions other pets offer. For those who would like to reward those tail-waggers, here is a recipe for dog bone treats.

Dog BonesIngredients
•2 cups whole wheat flour
•2 cups soya flour
•1 cup wheat germ
•1 cup corn meal
•1 cup dry nutritional yeast flakes (from Health Food Store)
•1/2 cup cooking oil
•1 egg
•1 3/4 cup water or broth
Place dry ingredients in large bowl. Blend. Mix together egg, oil, and water. Add these ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until all ingredients are well blended.

Divide dough in thirds. On floured surface, roll out to 1/4" thick. Cut out dog bone shapes. (Optional -- prick tops three times with toothpick.) Place on well oiled baking sheet.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 25-30 min. Biscuits should be well browned on the bottom. Don't store in an air tight container. Makes approx. 4 doz.

And for those purring friends, here's a treat for the holidays.

Cheese Ball Treats
•2 tablespoons of margarine
•1/2 cup grated cheddar or cheddar jack cheese
•1 egg white from a large egg
•1/2 cup whole wheat flour
•1 teaspoon of fresh chopped catnip or 1/2 teaspoon of dried catnip

Combine the first three ingredients until well blended. In a separate bowl, combine flour and catnip. Add the flour mixture slowly to the first three ingredients, mixing until a soft dough ball is formed. Separate into 1/2-inch pieces and roll by hand into small balls. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake at 300 degrees F for approximately 25 minutes. Yield: Approximately 12 balls. Cool completely before serving.
Recipes posted by Karen Robbins

Saturday, November 9, 2013

And the winner of our Christmas book is ....

Cue the fireworks and celebration, as the winner of a copy of "Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday" was selected using
Snap That AKA Joyful is the winner. Her blog is and she lives in Canada. Please contact me with your mailing address Joyful! She left a comment on my blog, Terragarden one of the two places you could leave comments.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Christmas Book Give Away

Hi Friends,
One of the "Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts" writers is giving away one copy of our book on her blog.
Terra Hangen's blog is at and to enter to win just leave a comment on her blog or on this blog. For two chances to win, leave one comment on each blog.

Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

The winner will be selected and announced on Nove. 9. The selection will be made with I want the winner to have this book well before Christmas since it is a fun and helpful book for planning, cooking, making simple gifts, reading some classic Christmas poems, etc.
Posted by Terra Hangen