Sunday, December 10, 2017

My Christmas Bucket List 2017


Season's Greetings!

 Have you made a Christmas bucket list of the fun things you want to do this month? I'm not talking about a regular to do list. This list is for the things that bring you joy! 

 I've made a slow start this Christmas season. I haven't done much shopping yet, and making, well, it will just have to wait until next year. Still... there are things I just love to do during the Christmas season. Actually, I like to do a lot of them all winter long. We'll see how many things I can fit in around doctor's appointments, tests, and treatments. 

 The good news is that I'm feeling pretty good, and I'm here to celebrate Christmas with my family. I still have several months of treatments left, but the cancer is in remission.  Thank you God! Glory to God in the highest!

 Here are some of the things I'd like to do this month. I've already done some of these things.
  • Write my Christmas bucket list
  • Make or buy a tree ornament for each child
  • Sing Christmas carols
  • Put up the tree
  • Gaze into the fire in the woodstove
  • Christmas parade
  • Put lights on the house (Kids took care of it.)
  • Talk to strangers (It's what I do!)
  • Smile and spread good cheer
  • Curl up with a terrific book
  • Tree decorating party with my husband and kids
  • Bake cookies with my adult son
  • Make homemade cranberry wassail
  • Make cocoa
  • Watch Christmas movies
  • Listen to Christmas music
  • Decorate the house
  • Bake Snowball Cookies
  • Advent book
  • Dip pretzels in white chocolate
  • Invite friends for soup and bread
  • Christmas baking
  • Sip eggnog
  • Gaze into the fire of a candle
  • Sing Christmas carols as I shop
  • Burn fragrant holiday candles
  • Read by tree light
  • Coffee with a friend
  • Lunch with a friend
  • Christmas shopping
  • Christmas caroling
  • Watch more Christmas movies
  • Pajama Run - Christmas lights
  • Cookie Exchange Party
  • Read Christmas books  
  • Drink hot apple cider
  • Wrap Christmas gifts
  • Christmas Day at home

Most importantly, worship Jesus ~ I cannot bring myself to cross this out though I've done it!

Happy Christmas Season!
Blessed to be a Blessing

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage #115

Welcome to another 
Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage!
Each week I share ways I've saved money, my thrifty and frugal projects, and my blessings from God. 

A Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage
I am so glad you dropped in for a visit today—or tonight!
Please say hello! I'm always looking for new blog friends!


Happy Christmas time everyone!

  Are you getting ready? We've put up our tree, I've been lighting white pillar candles that my husband bought at a yard sale a few months ago, I've been listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies. My daughter, Amy, decorated my kitchen yesterday while organizing some shelves. She has a gift of organization and decorating...the artist's eye!

  I've had a bit more energy this week, so I've done some decluttering and a lot of laundry. With more treatments ahead, I'm trying to take advantage of my good days without wearing myself out. It's all a balance of the mental and physical activities. This is a long-term recovery process, but I cannot just sit around. It makes me melancholy.

  Well, enough for now—on to my blessings and a bit of our thrifty life.

Just one of the free images from

A Verse for You

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."
—James 1:17

Here's my thrifty week!
  • My daughter, Amy, designed a new blog header and background for me. I love it!
  • Avocados $.39 each at Aldi. My son told me that they're $.42 each at Walmart now. I need to buy some. The kids love them. I love my homemade guacamole!
  • Approximately 15 cubic feet of real estate investment! I've been doing what I can to clear things out. We are just jam packed into this little cottage. 
  • I downloaded a few new free images from They are free to use without attribution.
  • We enjoyed the last of the meals that were brought to us during my surgery recovery. Our friends were very generous. 
  • My son, Matthew, called from Walmart to say that they had 5 dozen eggs on sale for $3.00! I bought a box the same day. Eggs have been cheap here, but they've been over $1.50 a dozen for the last couple of weeks. We all know there's holiday baking to do.
  • My daughter, Emily, baked homemade sugar cookies using the first cookie recipe that I learned to make by myself as a child over forty years ago. Don't go there! I just know you're thinking, "How old is this lady?" Ha ha! She made a very large batch and filled tins we had left over from our restaurant days for her teachers. Very nice gifts for the price of butter, sugar, and flour.
  • I made roll out sugar cookies with my son, Matthew, at his request. When it came time to decorate, we used things we had on hand. Use it up!
  • My husband and I splurged and went to Panera for dinner to plan Christmas gifts. He received a free danish for his birthday.
  • My daughter, Amy, decorated the kitchen using things we had on hand in creative ways.
  • We sipped homemade cocoa while watching an old Christmas movie we've had for years—Home Alone.
  • I have a big bag of oddly cut chicken pieces that a friend gave me thawing in the fridge.
  • I wrote a review for a free copy of the book Christmas at Grey Sage. It was a good book.
  • Now for the most exciting thrifty of the week—a friend gave us her dvd/vcr combo machine! We've had two such machines stacked on top of our old t.v. for years. One's DVD worked, the other's VCR worked. We bought them at yard sales. Over the last couple months, they both died. We needed a VHS player, because almost all of our Christmas movies (and memories associated with them) are VHS. Have you priced them? I cannot buy one locally, and on-line they are several hundred dollars new. I have no trouble with a used machine, but most of them were nearly a hundred dollars without any guarantee that they work. I decided to just ask on Facebook if anyone had a VHS player they didn't want. I asked twice with no results. The third time, a dear friend, Susan, told me she had a combo player she'd only used three times, and it had been sitting at her house for eight years! My husband picked it up the next morning, and it works like new. Praise God! All good gifts come down from God. Thank you Susan! Thank you God!
Take cat naps as needed!
  Ladies, whatever preparations you're doing for Christmas, try to use what you have on hand as much as possible. You can make things over, use old decorative items in new ways, just change things up a bit. Try to keep it all in perspective and keep it off your credit cards! It's better to downsize now than to face bills later!

That's my thrifty week.

What are you doing in your home this week?


...doing what I can with what I've got
where I am on a short shoestring budget!



Wednesday, December 6, 2017

I Didn't Want This Book to End! Christmas at Grey Sage by Phyllis Clark Nichols Review

Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year... except when it's not. We go about with the words merry Christmas on our lips, but for some, they are hollow. Such is the case for Maude and Silas and the Unlikely Christmas Party on Wheels that comes to stay at Grey Sage Inn for a few days before Christmas.

The pages of this book are filled with realistic characters who are running from Christmas alone or Christmas past. We've all got a Christmas past. A Christmas road trip across the southwest is meant to distract the travelers from their own loneliness or pain. A blizzard in Santa Fe, New Mexico brings about a whole new meaning for Christmas present to both the Unlikely Christmas Party on Wheels and their hosts Maude and Silas who run the Grey Sage Inn.

The endearing characters that populate this book each have a pain of their own that must be faced. We forget that we are surrounded by people who are not having a merry Christmas. That's something to think about in itself.

Reading this book helped me think through some of the sadness I feel when I think of the people and things I miss from my Christmas pasts, and helped me think in terms of making a new Christmas present in spite of my less than stellar ability to make Christmas this year for my family as I once could. I may not be able to decorate and bake and shop as in years past to make things special, but this year, perhaps just having mom here alive is enough. Doing what I can with the energy I have where I am is enough.

Finding joy in the now is what this book is about.There will be Christmas futures that will be filled with excitement and joy and fun. It's okay if they're not all exciting. They're all centered around kindness, love, hospitality, and our savior Jesus Christ.

I highly recommend this book. It can be read in a few hours and is worth it—especially if this Christmas is not all you wish it to be.

From the publisher:
Christmas at Grey Sage
Nestled in the snow-covered Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Santa Fe, the Grey Sage Inn looks like the perfect place for weary travelers to escape the craziness of the Christmas season. There's plenty to see in historic Santa Fe during the day, and the inn's owners, Maude and Silas Thornhill, are happy to spend their evenings hosting this year's guests from across the country.

But an unusual snowstorm throws a wrench in the festive mood. The sprawling inn becomes close quarters as stranded
guests discover this Christmas won't be the relaxed vacation they expected. Tension and fear mount as the storm worsens, and Silas, a retired doctor, is called away in the middle of the night to care for a neighbor. The snow and stress unlock tongues---and in the unexpected conversation that follows, secrets and pasts are revealed, and hearts are healed.

In the midst of snowdrifts and fireside conversations of days
gone by, the warmth of Christmas brings a renewed hope as these trapped strangers become friends---proof again that the joy, hope, peace, and love of Christmas can be experienced no matter where you are.

About the author:

Phyllis Clark Nichols grew up in the deep shade of magnolia trees in Georgia and weaves her Southern culture into character-driven stories that explore profound human questions. She is a classically trained musician and enjoys art, books, nature, cooking, travel, and ordinary people. After retiring as a cable network executive, Phyllis began leading mission teams to orphanages in Guatemala and now serves on three nonprofi t boards, where she works with others who are equally passionate about bringing hope and light to those who need it most. Phyllis and her husband live in the Texas Hill Country.

Learn more at
Read more blogger reviews.

Disclosure: I was sent a sample of this product for review purposes only. I was not compensated in any way. All opinions are my own based on my experience with this product. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."