Giving Thanks.

November 26, 2022

This week we in the United States celebrated Thanksgiving, a day we eat turkey and lots of food being thankful for all our blessings. Many people say they are thankful for their family, their health, their job(s), their friends, and more. I say the same things, but what specific things can we think of to be thankful for.

I am thankful that my middle daughter sees things that need to be done and takes initiative to do the job. The day before Thanksgiving, she saw our backyard covered with leaves. She grabbed a rake and raked all the leaves then bagged them all with the help of her younger brother so they could be taken away.

I am thankful that same daughter who does not like eating blueberries or blueberry muffins decided to try my blueberry pie. She then when on for some time saying that it was the best tasting pie she ever had. She does not eat blueberries by themselves or in muffins, but she loves that blueberry pie (she had another piece today) and asked when I would make another one. That made me so happy.

I am thankful that two of my boys and one of my girls have jobs doing work they enjoy. They are faithful in doing their work.

I am thankful for God’s provision for our family. God gave my boy a car so he could go to and from work with his brother and help the family out when transportation is needed.

I am thankful for God’s plan of salvation where He took me, a person who broke His law and deserves to be punished, and reconciled me to Himself by having His Son, Jesus, whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas, pay the penalty for my sin, a penalty I could never pay. I accepted the offer of Jesus’ payment for the penalty of my sins. Now I know I will live with Him forever when my time on earth is through.

What are you thankful for?


Looking for a website that will give you the widest variety of Christmas music? Go to the best online radio station I have found, https://www.stfrancis.edu/spirit/. I’m sure you will love it, too.

Starting November 29 and going through December 24, catch the Adventures of the Cinnamon Bear on my website https://www.customsofchristmas.com/adventcal-cbear.html.

Merry Christmas!

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Christmas in Ukraine

October 24, 2022

Christmas in Ukraine

The Ukrainian Christmas is a mix of faith, family, and age-old traditions past on for hundreds of years.  Family plays a big part in Christmas traditions, a mixture of the yearly end-of-agricultural activities celebration and Christian Christmas celebration.  When the Soviet Union controlled Ukraine, many Christmas traditions were repressed as they tried to drive all forms of religion from their lands.  Once Ukraine became independent, many old traditions have reappeared in Ukraine’s Christmas celebration.  As Ukrainians immigrate to other countries, they take their traditions with them.

The Christmas season starts thirty-nine days before Christmas.  This period of Advent starts with the Feast of the Presentation, December 4, and ends with the Feast of Jordan, January 19.  During this time no meat or milk products are consumed and marriages, dancing, and partying are forbidden as the people reflect and prepare for the birthday of the holy Christ Child.

During this time of Advent, the family is busy finishing their harvest, cleaning homes and barns inside and out, making repairs to houses, barns, and repairing broken relationships between family members, friends, and neighbors.  All cooking and baking that can be done ahead of time for Christmas is done as well.  All this work must be finished before Christmas Day.

When cleaning houses and barns, great care is taken not to disturb spiders and their webs.  Spiders get this special treatment due to two legends.

A young widow had a tree but no money for decorations for the tree or presents for her children.  On Christmas Eve while the family slept, a spider covered the tree with a majestic web.  When the family woke the next morning, they found the tree covered with a beautiful, glistening, silver web.

A spider gave Jesus His first toy.  As Jesus slept in the manger, a spider wove an intricate web above Him.  When Jesus woke, He saw the light of the sun glistening off the dew clinging to the strands of the web making Him smile and laugh.

Christmas Eve is the last day of the no meat, no milk Advent fast.  The day is spent preparing for the evening’s Sviata Vecheria, Holy Supper.  The whole family gathers together for supper, many of them helping with preparations.  Final cleaning takes place, and the dishes for the meal are prepared.  The table is prepared.  A layer of hay is placed on the table covered by a plain linen tablecloth with cloves of garlic placed on all four corners.  A second tablecloth decorated with traditional embroidered patterns is placed on the table.  Three kolaches, circular braided bread, are stacked in the middle of the table with a candle placed in the hole at the top.  Hay is placed on the floor under the table with treats hidden in it for the children to find after supper.  Burning candles or other lights are placed in the windows and an empty place is set for any stranger or person in need who may appear at the door during the meal.  An empty place is also set at the table for anyone in the family who died in the past year.

Sviata Vecheria begins with the first star appears in the sky.

Once the first star has been spotted, usually by one of the children, the family gathers around the table and sings the first koliadky, Christmas carol, of the season.  The Sviata Vecheria traditionally consists of up to twelve dishes representing the twelve apostles, all made without meat or milk products.  The first dish, Kutia, made with boiled wheat or barley, poppy seeds, and honey is a favorite dish served in several holiday meals.  Other dishes include pickled herring, mushrooms, dill pickles, borscht, boiled, baked, or jellied fish dishes, sauerkraut and potato dishes, stuffed cabbage with rice or buckwheat filling, beans, peas, and other vegetables.  For dessert, phrohy, boiled dumplings, with fruit stuffings or varenyky, a rich sweet dessert of stewed fruit, may be served.

After the meal, which may last several hours, is finished a koliadky is sung followed by the children diving under the table to find the treats hiding in the hay.  Gifts may also be exchanged after Sviata Vecheria.

Many will attend Christmas Mass either at midnight or early Christmas morning.  The rest of Christmas day may be spent caroling and visiting friends, extended family, and neighbors.  Christmas meals may include foods made with meat and milk products, Christmas honey cake, honey cookies, fruit and nut bars, poppy seed tortes, filled crescents, and more.

For more about Ukraine’s Christmas season visit https://www.customsofchristmas.com/ukraine.html.

Merry Christmas!

Ukrainian Christmas Carols

September 25, 2022

I was hoping to post about Ukrainian Christmas traditions. Perhaps I will have that post ready next month. I truly hope the Ukrainian people will be able to celebrate Christmas this year in peace in their homes enjoying their wonderful Christmas traditions.

In anticipation for next month’s post, here are three videos of people of Ukraine singing their Christmas carols. Enjoy.

з Різдвом (Merry Christmas!)

Ukrainian Christmas Recipes

August 24, 2022

Christmas Honey Balls

1 stick margarine
4 cups flour
1 cup honey
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
48 walnut halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut margarine into flour with a pastry knife.  Place honey in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on 50% power until bubbling.  (Alternatively, place honey in a heat-resistant glass cup and place cup in a pan of hot water; stir.)  Add honey to flour and margarine; stir well.  Add sour cream, eggs, baking soda, and baking powder.  Knead into a smooth dough.  Add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is no longer sticky.

Pinch off small pieces of dough and roll into 3/4-inch balls.  Place balls on greased cookie sheet.  Press a walnut half into the center of each cookie.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden.  Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 48 cookies.

Uzvar (Dried Fruit Compote)
Prepare this dish ahead of time to allow the flavors to blend.

2 lbs. mixed dried fruit (apples, pears, prunes, apricots, raisins)
16 cups water
1 1/2 cups honey

Place dried fruit in a large saucepan.  Add water and honey.  Cover the pan and simmer the fruit mixture until fruit is soft.  Add more water, if necessary.  Allow compote to cool, then taste for sweetness.

Serves 10-12.

Pyrohy (Stuffed Dumplings)

5 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 stick margarine, softened
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups water
Potato and Cheese filling ( recipe below)

Mix flour and salt on a breadboard or in a wide bowl.  Make a well in the center of the mixture and add eggs, margarine, and ¾ cup water.  Mix well and knead lightly to make a smooth dough.  If dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is smooth and elastic.  Cover and let sit in a warm place for 10 to 15 minutes.  Prepare Potato and Cheese filling.  Refrigerate until needed.

Divide dough into three equal parts.  On a floured surface, roll one part of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness.  Cut 3-inch rounds with a large biscuit cutter or drinking glass.  Place 1 tablespoon of filling to one side of each round, moisten one edge, then press edges together firmly to seal.  Place filled pyrohy on floured surface and cover while preparing the remaining pyrohy.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Bring a wide pot of water to a boil.  Drop 8 to 10 pyrohy in the boiling water.  Cook gently for 3 to 4 minutes or until pyrohy float to the surface.  Lift out with a slotted spoon.  Place on a lightly greased plate or toss gently with melted butter.

Potato and Cheese Filling for Pyrohy

6 medium white potatoes
2 medium onions, chopped
2 tbsp. butter
8 oz. American cheese, grated
1 cup dry curd cottage cheese
salt and pepper

Boil potatoes in their skins until tender.  Cool, peel, and mash.  Melt butter in a large skillet.  Saute onions in butter until golden.  Combine cheeses, onions, and potatoes in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Use for filling in prepared pyrohy dough (see recipe above).

Recipes taken from Christmas in Ukraine Christmas Around the World From World Book, copyright 2014.

Christmas in July

July 24, 2022

July 25 marks the halfway point to Christmas. Some celebrate it as Christmas in July or Leon Day (Leon is Noel spelled backwards). I will have to admit that I have been listening to Christmas music over the last couple weeks. To help you get into the spirit (if you are not in the spirit already), here are some Christmas commercials from the last 30 years or so to help you along. Enjoy.

Merry Christmas…in July!

4 Diabetic Christmas Recipes

June 25, 2022

For many people with diabetes Christmas meals may be disappointing. They remember the good, sweet things they used to be able to eat. Here are four recipes that, hopefully, will bring eating enjoyment to a person with diabetes Christmas meal this year.

Horseradish-Encrusted Beef Tenderloin

Total Time

Prep: 35 min. + cooling Bake: 45 min. + standing

 Makes

8 servings

Wow friends and family with this tender beef encased in a golden horseradish crust. Roasted garlic boosts the robust flavor even more. —Laura Bagozzi, Dublin, Ohio

Ingredients

  • 1 whole garlic bulb
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup soft bread crumbs
  • 1 beef tenderloin roast (3 pounds)

Directions

  1. Remove papery outer skin from garlic bulb (do not peel or separate cloves). Cut top off garlic bulb; brush with oil. Wrap in heavy-duty foil. Bake at 425° until softened, 30-35 minutes. Cool for 10-15 minutes. Lower oven setting to 400°.
  2. Squeeze softened garlic into a small bowl; stir in the horseradish, salt, basil, thyme and pepper. Add bread crumbs; toss to coat. Spread over top of tenderloin. Place on a rack in a large shallow roasting pan.
  3. Bake until meat reaches desired doneness (for medium-rare, a thermometer should read 135°; medium, 140°; medium-well, 145°), 45-55 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

Nutrition Facts

5 ounces cooked beef: 268 calories, 11g fat (4g saturated fat), 75mg cholesterol, 119mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 1g fiber), 37g protein. Diabetic exchanges: 5 lean meat.

https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/horseradish-encrusted-beef-tenderloin/

Orange-Glazed Pork Loin

Total Time

Prep: 10 min. Bake: 1 hour 20 min. + standing

Makes

16 servings

This is one of the best pork recipes I’ve ever tried. My family looks forward to this roast for dinner, and guests always want the recipe. The flavorful rub, and the glaze brightened with orange juice, are also outstanding on pork chops. —Lynnette Miete, Alna, Maine

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 to 3 fresh thyme sprigs or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 boneless pork loin roast (5 pounds)
  • glaze:
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine the first 5 ingredients; rub over roast. Place fat side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine orange juice, brown sugar and mustard. In a small bowl, mix water and cornstarch until smooth. Add to orange juice mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes. Reserve 1 cup glaze for serving; brush half of remaining glaze over roast.
  3. Bake until a thermometer reads 145°, 20-40 minutes longer, brushing occasionally with remaining glaze. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Reheat reserved glaze; serve with roast.

Nutrition Facts

4 ounces cooked pork with 1 tablespoon glaze: 199 calories, 7g fat (2g saturated fat), 71mg cholesterol, 212mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 0 fiber), 28g protein. Diabetic exchanges: 4 lean meat, 1/2 starch.

https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/orange-glazed-pork-loin/

Fresh Apple Squares

One batch of dough does double duty as both the crust and streusel topping to make one of the easiest desserts around.

Ingredients

  • ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • ¼ cup apple juice concentrate, thawed
  • 2 pork tenderloins, trimmed of all visible fat and cut into 3×1/4-inch long strips
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Directions

  • Step 1 : Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray.
  • Step 2 : Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Work in oil and apple juice concentrate with your fingers until coarse crumbs form.
  • Step 3 : Firmly press 2 cups of the oat mixture into the prepared pan. Arrange apples over the crust in three rows. Mix walnuts into the remaining oat mixture. Sprinkle the walnut mixture evenly over the apples and pat firmly into an even layer.
  • Step 4 : Bake until the top is golden brown and the apples are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 
1 square

Per Serving:
160 calories; protein 2g; carbohydrates 29g; dietary fiber 1g; sugars 17g; fat 4g; vitamin a iu 7IU; vitamin c 0.9mg; folate 4.4mcg; calcium 28.7mg; iron 0.9mg; magnesium 21.4mg; potassium 88mg; sodium 100mg; thiamin 0.1mg; added sugar 13g.

https://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/248536/fresh-apple-squares/

SUGAR-FREE SUGAR COOKIES

Sugar cookies are one of the most popular holiday cookies to bake. Parents and kids can team up for a fun baking session – kids love using cookie cutouts! This is a sugar-free sugar cookie recipe that is lower in carbs because it uses Equal instead of table sugar. Use it for Christmas cutout cookies, Halloween cookies and anytime you need to make cutout cookies.


Recipe Yield: 24 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup whipped cream cheese
  • 27 packets Equal sweetener*
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray
  • Red and green sugar free gelatin

*Substitute 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Equal Spoonful for the packets.


Directions

  1. Beat applesauce, butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.
  2. Mix in Equal, egg whites and extracts until combined.
  3. Gradually mix in combined dry ingredients until blended.
  4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350F.
  6. Spray baking sheets with cooking spray; set aside.
  7. Roll out dough on very lightly floured surface to 1/4th inch thickness.
  8. Cut with your favorite holiday cookies cutters. Place on prepared baking sheets.
  9. Sprinkle lightly with gelatin.
  10. Bake 8 to 9 minutes.
  11. Cool on pans 2 minutes.
  12. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION PER SERVING:

Calories: 64
Fat:  3 grams
Sodium: 74 milligrams
Cholesterol: 7 milligrams
Protein: 1 grams
Carbohydrates: 9 grams

DIABETIC EXCHANGES

1/2 Fat, 1/2 Starch

https://diabeticgourmet.com/diabetic-recipe/sugar-free-sugar-cookies-cutouts

Happy Easter!

April 14, 2022

Easter starts with Christmas. The promise given at Christmas is fulfilled at Easter. Enjoy this song that starts with the Christmas story and finishes the story with the glorious finale at Easter.

The Little Boy From The Carpenter’s Shop by The Florida Boys

Merry Christmas and Happy Easter!

Christmas Creativity – a Candy Christmas Wreath and an Advent Mural

March 24, 2022

Make this delightful Candy Christmas Wreath.

Make an Advent Mural

Supplies

  • Construction Paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Colored Pencils
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • pkg. pipe cleaners
  • large paper (approx. 22 inches wide by 5 feet long) you can usually get rolls of newsprint ends from your local newspaper.

Instructions

  1. Get a large piece of paper
  2. Draw 24 little houses, color them and cut them out
  3. On the back of each house put the name of a friend or family member, number the other side of the house from 1 through 24
  4. Draw a little church and color it. Make a church with a door that opens and inside put a picture of a baby.
  5. Make a long winding road all the way up the paper with a crayon, marker or glue on pipe cleaners for a more 3-D look.
  6. Glue the little church at the top of the road
  7. Put a little glue on the left side edge of the houses and glue them along the road
  8. Each day open a house along the road and read the name of the person on the back.
  9. This is the person whom you will remember that day. You can do such things as give them a call, write them a letter, bring by a box of baked goods, or anything else you can think of. Especially thank God for them.
  10. When your family reaches the church thank God for the gift of Jesus.

Joy to the World

February 25, 2022

Isaac Watts, born in England in 1674, grew up not liking the music used in the church.  His father challenged him to come up with something better.  Challenge accepted.  Watts wrote more than 600 hymns and other poems.  While studying Psalm 98, he wrote a poem he called “Joy to the World.”  It was based on verses 4-9 of Psalm 98.  During his lifetime the poem was sung to the tune of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”

Lowell Mason, born in New Jersey, USA, in 1792, loved music and composed songs.  He studied Handel and enjoyed composing music in the classical style.  In 1836, he composed a song he called “Antioch.”  In 1839, he discovered the words of the Isaac Watts poem “Joy to the World” fit the meter of his song “Antioch.”  He put the two together creating the present-day carol “Joy to the World.”

Information on “Joy to the World” was found in Ace Collin’s book Stories Behind The Best-Loved Songs of Christmas published by Zondervan.

Winter Wonderland

January 25, 2022

It sure is cold where I live, and there is several inches of snow on the ground.  I thought because of all the snow and cold why not share some winter songs.  First, there is a fun, animated video of Bing Crosby singing ‘Winter Wonderland’.  Then Doris Day sings about a ‘Snowfall’.  Last, there are two songs featuring Michael Buble, ‘Let It Snow’ and ‘Winter Wonderland’.  Enjoy!

Winter Wonderland – Bing Crosby

Snowfall – Doris Day

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow – Michael Buble

Winter Wonderland – Michael Buble

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