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Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Lord says ... Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23


THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY, AND JOSEPH

*Sunday Gospel

When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,  “Rise, take the child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.  Herod is going to search for the child to destroy Him.”  Joseph rose and took the child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt.  He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, 

“Out of Egypt I called my Son.”

When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said,  “Rise, take the child and His mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”  He rose, took the child and His mother, and went to the land of  Israel.  But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there.  And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee.  He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled,

“He shall be called a Nazorean.”




ACTS OF LOVE
When I was still in high school, I felt the desperation that I couldn’t even ask my mother what went wrong or if there was still a way to solve the problem. That moment  when my mother told me that I couldn’t continue my studies, I felt a bomb suddenly exploded in front of my face. Tears just fell intensely in my eyes, as I was thinking about my forthcoming exam.  I couldn't take the exam if I couldn’t pay my tuition pay for that period. My mother was the sole breadwinner of the family because my father died at an early age when she was four months pregnant with me.   Things in her business were getting hard for her to pay all the household expenses and our studies in private schools.  The only one whom I told about my feelings was my eldest brother.  He is older than me and I’m the youngest in the brood of four children.  He even wanted to stop schooling for the meantime, so our mother could be less worried about our expenses.   He just comforted me and told me to just let it go.  But at the end, my mother was able to find a way to pay for my tuition fee.  I felt relieved and happy, but I didn’t bother anymore to ask her how she got the money.  I was just an ordinary, young teenager who couldn’t feel yet what is like to be a mother.

Now being a mother, myself, I have experienced and realized the hardship of raising my own four children. I begun to realize the sense of responsibility my own mother took on her shoulder in order for us to live and survive. Any parent would really find a way to provide and support their children’s needs, no matter how hard it is going to be.  When a child is lost, a parent, whether a single mom or single dad, gets on to his or her feet to look for the child.  When a child cries, a parent comes to her or him and hugs the child to console and provide his or her needs.  When a child is in danger of getting an accident, a parent sacrifices himself or herself to save the life of a child.  This is what it takes to be a parent.  This is what you call-- Acts of  LOVE.     


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" I will sing of your salvation. In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice rescue me and deliver me; incline your ear to me, and save me. Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for you are rock and my fortress. O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked. For you are my hope, O Lord, my trust, O God from my youth. On you I depend my birth; from my mother's womb, you are my strength. My mouth shall declare your justice, day by day your salvation. O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds."

Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4a 


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mom's Oven --- Pumpkin Granola Cookies


Thinking of selling something to raise money for a good cause this season?  Every year we hold a cookie sale in our parish church.  The outcome is always inspiring when people flock together to contribute and give generously. The health benefits it gives are abundant and making cookies out of these pumpkins is worth doing it. So, try this good, delicious cookie recipe  and you’ll be glad you did.


 Sweety Pie Pumpkin Plants


They are an excellent sources of *Vitamins A, B6, C, and E, pantothenic acid, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, riboflavin, potassium, copper, and manganese.  It is also low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.  Pumpkins are also member of the Cucurbitaceae family.  They are good for maintaining good skin health and protecting against lung and oral cavity cancers and age-related macular diseases in the elderly.

*Nutrition Reference: http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/pumpkin.html

Please see about planting other vegetables and trees - The Garden (2012) and The Garden (2013)





PUMPKIN GRANOLA COOKIES

Ingredients:
3 c    all purpose flour
2 c    quaker oats
1 tsp  baking soda
1 tsp  baking powder
1 tsp  nutmeg
1 tsp  cinnamon
1 tsp  salt
1 c     raisins
1 c     walnuts, chopped
½ c    sunflower seed
3 c     granulated white sugar
½ c    butter
1 pc   egg
1 tsp  vanilla extract
1 pc   small sweety pie  pumpkin

Preparation Time: 2 hours

Baking Time:  20 minutes

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).   

2. Before cutting the pumpkin, wash it thoroughly with a fruit and vegetable wash and rinse well. Cut pumpkin in half, sliced lengthwise, remove seeds and strings. Place on baking trays, cut side down. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven until tender for about 1 ½ hour. Let it cool. Remove pumpkin pulp with an ice cream scoop.  If the pulp is fibrous, it is so easy to spread  them out manually and mash or put them in a food processor. Measure out 3 cups pumpkin pulp. Set aside.

3. In a bowl, stir together flour, quaker oats, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

4. In a separate large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg, then stir in the pumpkin pulp and vanilla.

5. Stir flour mixture into pumpkin mixture.  Add in raisins, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. Stir until all ingredients are well mixed.

6. Scoop 1/3 cup of batter into greased baking trays.  Provide good spacing for each scoop of batter on the tray as this will turn out big.

7. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick  inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean.

8. Let cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out on wire  racks and let cool completely.  If there are leftovers, you can  freeze them and store in a food saver bag.   

Yield:  23 cookies 




Please see my other Baking Recipes:
    How to Roast Sunflower Seeds           
    Nutty Figgy Bread                       
    Peach Cobbler                            
    Peach Cream CheesePie         

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“Cooking doesn’t only involve knowing what and how to cook and prepare  all the ingredients, but also how much you love to cook for somebody .”



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My hands can do this --- Nativity Scene in Coffee Can


Lots of people are drinking different kinds of coffee brand, but the coffee brand the Great Gardener likes to drink is Folgers - Columbian.  We have lots of these containers saved and provided us many usages, like this special project I thought of to make because of a very special purpose, too.  

There is a reason to celebrate Christmas.  That’s why this Nativity Scene featuring the Blessed Family always helps us remember why our Lord became incarnated not only to serve an earthly purpose, but to serve an eternal purpose for us.  



*NATIVITY SCENE IN COFFEE CAN


Materials:
(1)  Folgers Coffee Can (big) 27.8 oz
(4)  copper wires 7ft /2.1m each ( different colors)
(8)  small poinsettia flowers
       Christmas lights, 50 clear mini lights
   miniature Holy Family statues
       gold cross
       gold star
       needle nose plier  
   scissor
   small knife
   portable drill and 1/8 drill bits
   many dried sticks, pre-cut 6 inches long
   glue gun
   glue sticks
       floral wire
       Scotch tape
   Garden Jute String
   black marker pen
   small ball pen
       peanut foams
   short green garland
  
Level of Difficulty - intermediate

Instructions:



Drilling Holes
Using a marker pen, mark the area to be drilled at the upper area of the coffee can.  Using the portable drill with 1/8 drill bit, drill 8 holes with equal spacing as shown above. 


Curling the Copper Wires Around
Have one 7ft copper wire on hand.  Leave 3 inches of copper wire in one end before starting to curl it around and around your marker pen.  Be sure the size of the marker pen will really provide good space to insert the Christmas lights  without any hassle.  It will look like this as shown above. Continue curling it around the marker pen until you reach the other end, but don’t curl the remaining 3 inches of it.  Do the same procedure for the remaining 3 copper wires.


Inserting the Christmas Lights
Insert carefully the first light bulb into the end of the copper wire.  Be sure they will not get tangled. Carefully handle the Christmas light bulbs as you insert and pull them till you reach its other end. Don’t make a mistake in pulling the bulb by itself. It will look like as shown above.  Move the copper wire further along the line of the Christmas lights till it passes through 20 light bulbs.  Make adjustments, if possible. Carefully insert the next copper wire into the Christmas lights. Do the same procedure for the remaining copper wires.  These light bulbs should be intact within the copper wires.


Attaching the Copper Wires with Christmas Lights
a)  Insert one end of the copper wire into one hole of the coffee can and twist it with a needle nose plier. This will be the first copper wire post. Pull the wire up till it measures 20 inches long from the edge of the coffee can.  As you pull the copper wire, be sure the first Christmas light bulb at the first end will not be pulled up through the wire again. Make adjustments, if possible.  Bend and insert the other end of the copper wire into the other hole facing the first hole and twist it with a needle nose plier. Make more adjustments with the wire and lights, if possible. Be sure the cord doesn’t go against its flow to go around the coffee can later on while attaching the wire to the hole.    

b)  Move over the next copper wire along the line of lights according to the space between two holes.  Insert the wire to the adjacent hole and twist it again. Pull the wire up till it measures 20 inches from the edge of the coffee can.  Run the wire on top of the first wire.  Attach its end to the hole next to the first hole in the other side.  Do the same procedure for the remaining wires.  Just insert each wire nearest the next hole till you finish it. Always run the wire on top of another wire.  


Christmas Lights and Star at the Center
a)  Cut a 15-inch floral wire and set them aside. Stretch each copper wire a little bit where the center bulbs are.  Take one bulb at the center out of each wire.  Have them all point upward. Pull the first bulb case of the first copper wire under and tie a floral wire around its cord twice.  Next, pull the second bulb case of the second copper wire under and tie the same floral wire around its cord twice.  Do the same procedure for the remaining two bulbs.  Twist all ends together to center the light bulbs, but don’t cut the excess wires yet. Adjust the copper wires at the center to put the light bulbs close together a little bit. The rest of the light bulbs remain intact within the copper wires. The outcome will look like as shown above.  

b)  Using a small knife, carefully insert it to make a slit at the lower side of the star where a small hole is and run the knife to the other side.  Carefully insert the four bulbs into the opening.  Insert the excess floral wire into the hole to close the opening.  Cut and hide the excess floral wires. Make further adjustments with the copper wires on its side, if possible, to make them look even in space and size.  

  Attaching the Dried Sticks
Using a glue gun with glue stick, attach the first dried stick on the side of the coffee can.  Attach the rest of the dried sticks around the coffee can.

(Note: If the dried sticks you gather are big, you can cut them into two.  Don’t worry about the imperfections of the dried sticks. Be sure they are all well aligning at the bottom edge so there will be no obstruction when the coffee can is laid flat on a table.) 
  
Attaching the excess Christmas Lights
Cut 8 seven-inch floral wires.   Turn the excess line of lights around on top of the dried sticks.  Provide allowance for the electrical plug. Tie the cords of the lights around each wire posts. Hide the excess wires except one wire near the center area.  This will be used to hold the cord of the gold cross and provide support.  


Attaching the Strings (a)


Attaching the Strings (b)
a) Determine which best area of the coffee can should be the center and mark a small X with a marker pen.  Be sure that the electrical plug is positioned at the back. Cut seven 45-inch garden jute strings. Hold their ends all together and then hold their center.  Using a glue gun, attach its center together  in the middle part of one dried stick as shown in picture (a) above. 
  
b) Attach all the rest of the strings together around the coffee can till you reach the center area mark X.  Tie them once, apply glue at the back, and press hard.  Make a ribbon and cut the loops.  If there are extra strings left at the end, cut them, and attach at the center. Trim and spread them out to look  like as shown in picture (b) above.

(Note: Be sure the strings are all aligned, not overlapping each other, and leveled.)

c) Use the excess floral wire on the copper wire post to tie the cord of the gold cross. This will provide extra support to hold the cross. Hide the excess wire. Spread out the strings. Using your glue gun, attach the gold cross at the center where the strings are.  

  

Attaching the Flowers
Just insert each stem of the flower into each copper wire posts. Arrange them by bending or twisting its stems.  Don’t need to cut the stems.  Be sure the view at the center is not blocked by flowers. Be sure also that there should be light bulbs near each poinsettia flower attached to illuminate them.
  
Putting the Fillers
a) Fill the coffee can with peanut foams,  but provide space for the garland.    


b)  Pre-cut 4 pieces of scotch tape. Measure the size of garland by putting it around the coffee can and hold it. Before cutting, move aside bits of pieces for both end sides to determine the middle area. Attach the scotch tape on one end first to prevent the pieces from getting loose. Do the same for the other end.  Cut the middle, pull and twist its wire ends with needle nose plier, and attach another scotch tape to hold and tighten them more together.  Arrange the garland and miniature family statues at the center. Elevate the head area of the baby Jesus’ statue to give more emphasis to the Nativity Scene by moving more peanut foams to that area. You are now ready to turn on the Christmas lights (-.-) yeheyyy.   Please view the video shown below:


                                     video


NATIVITY SCENE IN COFFEE CAN
*This project is also listed as one among my Top Holiday Projects and Top Green eCraft Projects.   It's my most special holiday craft project I ever done.  I gave it to a special friend as my special gift before I traveled back to my country.   You can really appreciate more its beauty when the lights are turned on. 


Related Coffee Can Craft Projects:
   Coffee Can Birdhouse                                                                    
   Coffee Can Flower Pot                                                                   
   Coffee Can Hanging Planters                                                         
   Coffee Can Hanging Planter with Upside-DownTomato Plant     


*I was featured on All Free Holiday Crafts in its What’s Hot as number 2 in the list dated October 14, 2016.  Please note this ranking is not permanent.  Thank you very much to all viewers.





Merry Christmas  
and  
Happy, Prosperous New Year

to  All !!! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

My heart says ... Black Friday Fire (2013)


Every year, people celebrate Thanksgiving Day with their family members.  And we were glad that our sister-in-law invited us to celebrate this event in their house. Luckily, the Welder, has arrived already from his work in Virginia because last year he wasn’t able to make it.  And more good luck for him when he was able to catch an 8-point buck before this day.  We usually have pot luck on every occasion. We brought in a blackberry cobbler and other family members had theirs, too. We had a good serving of everybody’s food shared on the table.  After several hours of family interactions, we went home full and happy.

The following day, Black Friday, lots of people are really anticipating for their holiday shopping spree.  Every year, many people are eagerly waiting for many shopping deals whether online or in store.  And the Welder is no exception because he needs to buy a new laptop.  He got inside the home at around 5:25 pm after a hard day’s work around our area.  He went online and browsed till he made a decision to buy an HP laptop.  But this time, he wasn’t lucky to get it because the last stock was already sold out.  Though he got frustrated of spending time doing the final transaction, he didn’t consider it a big problem.  His old computer is still running good anyway – he thought.   

At around 5:55 pm,  a young guy with two women knocked at our door and informed him – “There is a fire going on at the back of your house.”  He calmly approached me in the kitchen and told me about it.  I couldn’t believe what I heard, so I went outside immediately without even wearing a jacket on.  “Oh! my God,” I exclaimed.  The fire was all over the shed already engulfing everything under it --- two lawn mowers, electric welding machine, three wheeler, and the four wheeler.  I immediately called my sister-in-law on her cell phone to inform her about it because I got worried that the fire might spread out and reach their chicken houses which is just near the shed under fire.  It was 6:08 pm, but I got no answer. I went inside the house to look for him.  He came out of the back garage door still very calm.  I couldn’t speak and didn’t know what to do.  I went outside again while he followed me.  He looked at the on-going blazing fire, while I waited for him what he was going to do.  He said there’s no more way that anything can be saved and there’s no need to call a fire department. He went near the water faucet and attached the hose.  I looked for the other end of the water hose and gave it to him.  He run the water hose to put off the fire on the grass.  Then the father of the young guy, who informed us about the fire, came by to see what happened.  He is the cousin of the Welder.  They talked and left after a while and we offered them our gratitude.

We went inside the house and ate our dinner at 6:20 pm.  He went back to the garage and turned on the light, but it wouldn’t turn on.  He checked on the circuit breaker and suddenly there was light again.  After cleaning up the kitchen, I went outside again to see if the fire was still going on.  The fire was continuously engulfing every thing and black smoke running up high. I called again my sister-in-law on her landline number at 6:43 pm and she answered me.  She said she felt sad to know about what happened and  informed her husband about it.

I went inside the house again and saw him watching the television.  What was in his mind?   I don’t know... I couldn’t even interrogate him why it happened or what went wrong? We were both shocked... Air of sadness suddenly filled up every corners of our house...We didn’t go to bed till the fire was over because we were still worried that the propane tank there might explode.  Thank God, it didn’t.  For the last time before I went to bed, I still looked at the window in our bedroom and saw small traces of “glowing in the dark” thing outside.  

Early morning of the following day, we went outside to look at the debris. We clearly saw that everything was black and ruined.  He turned over the dilapidated roof sheets and I took pictures of what were burned as shown below.



The Shed Area



The Four Wheeler



The Three Wheeler



The Welding Machine



The 2 Lawn Mowers



The Propane Tank

So this Black Friday was really BLACK to us.  Feeling sad and wondering why it happened still lingers in our  minds and hearts. Our memories of the fire made us just think that we are still lucky that our house didn’t get burn up and we didn’t catch fire ourselves.  Accident can happen anywhere at anytime of the day.  He said he can still buy a new four wheeler or a new lawn mower or a new welding machine or even a new shed… Yes, that’s right,  I believe we can still stand up and make up for the losses.   God is good.  His love is eternal.  He helps those who are in need and struggling. Amen. Amen. Amen.