Okay, so again, I did very poorly when it came to writing devotions for the Christmas songs. Well, I did write them, but neglected to make time to type them up and share them with you. So, I may still do it and pre-date them so that they’ll at least all be together and not drive others nuts.

Back to the title, well, I did see some things that really were little rays of sunshine over the past few weeks. I was on my way to the chiropractor one dreary, drizzly morning in December, about a week before Christmas. In my lane, just ahead of me, was a newer model VW Beetle, which was a bright, sunny yellow. Now, for those who know me, you aren’t surprised to hear–ahem, read–that Beetles already make me smile. Well, this one was a tad different in the fact that it had antlers on both of its doors. Heehee, that made me laugh out loud, prompting 3-year-old Munchkin to ask, “What happened?” I told her what I was looking at, and she said that it was silly. Well, the Beetle’s driver changed lanes, and began to slow down a bit to get ready to exit onto I-71. I passed it, and really started laughing as I glanced at it in my rear-view mirror. Instead of seeing the VW symbol on the car’s nose, I saw a big red dot. Yeah, it doesn’t take much to amuse me any more. πŸ˜‰

Ooo!! Also, I have to share a great blessing that happened to me today. Those of you who live near me all know that I’ve been drooling over a particular slow cooker by Hamilton Beach. Bed Bath and Beyond has it on their site for $50, and everyone else has it for $60. Dh tried to get it for me for Christmas (the one I currently have I purchased 10 years ago. One of the handles broke a year after I bought it, and the knob for the temperature broke off in October), but BB&B doesn’t carry it in the stores and were out of stock online. We each received some funds for Christmas, so I went the other day and found this particular model on Wal-Mart’s site. I looked again today, and discovered that many of the local stores had either sold out of them, or had limited stock on them. So, I went in to the store nearest me and picked up one of the two remaining boxes. I pick up the remaining items on my list (which wasn’t very long, anyway) and go to check out. I paid for the groceries, and then watched the cashier ring up the big box. I almost pooped my pants and fell over when I saw the price!! I could. Not. Believe it!! It was only $29.00!!!!!!!!!!! No wonder it was selling out!! The cashier and the lady behind me in line probably thought I was nuts, and I explained that everywhere else the thing was selling for $60, and that I was floored because I was able to save $10. Needless to say, I was able to take that extra $10 and buy more jeans for Munchkin (dd1) at Once Upon a Child (that kid is growing like a weed!! None of her pants are long enough. It’s too cold to be wearing “capris” right now!).

I’m also exploring whole wheat recipes. I’m going to experiment with making whole wheat egg noodles, pizza crusts, pie crusts, cookies (though so far, those have been a bit of a bust…might have to set the mill to extra fine, and tighten up the stones a bit more), among other things.

I’ve been cooking up a lot of things from scratch lately, as well. Last night, I made chicken and noodles, completely from scratch!! I made my own broth by boiling the bony parts of a left-over chicken, added more leftover broth, some veggies and spices, and let it cook for a couple hours. Finally, I made my own egg noodles from scratch with the remaining All-purpose store-bought flour and a bit of bread flour (I’m trying to use them up!). Oh my! They were so good! Unfortunately, dh was/is sick, so we still have plenty left over (he usually eats a couple helpings of my chicken and noodles in one sitting! πŸ˜€ ).

Oh! I almost forgot to share a couple dessert inventions… One is Cheater’s cannoli, and the other is a gingerbread roll.

Cheaters’ Cannoli are made with rolled vanilla-flavored pizzeles and some French vanilla pudding. If you have a pizzele iron (usually available at places like Sears, JCPenney, Macy’s, Kohl’s, etc. or you can google online to see how to get one), make your usual dough, using vanilla extract for the flavoring. As soon as you remove them from the iron, carefully roll them into the ends of paper towel tubes (DO NOT use toilet paper tubes. yuck!). leave them there until they’re set, then remove them. You may need to use 2 tubes at a time, so that you can have one set of pizzeles cooling while placing a second set into the next tube. Remvoe the first set while a third set is still in the iron. After all your pizzeles are made, mix up a box or two of your favorite pudding flavor. I recommend French vanilla or pistachio. JUST BEFORE serving, you can put the pudding inside the rolled pizzeles using a couple different methods. You can carefully use a spoon and stuff 2-3 tablespoons full into the openings, or you can use a pastry bag (or even a ziploc baggie with a corner cut off) to squeeze the pudding in. DO NOT stuff them ahead of time, or they’ll end up a nasty, soggy mess.Β  Top with mini chocolate chips, and/or pistachios, and whipped cream (use Redi-Whip–it’s real whipped cream and doesn’t turn into plastic like non-dairy whipped cream does).

The gingerbread roll is made using a gingerbread cake recipe. I found an old-fashioned gingerbread recipe on allrecipes.com, and substituted applesauce for the eggs, and used regular vegetable oil to replace the butter. It made for a moister cake, since the reviews said it was a good cake, yet dry. i followed the directions for Libby’s pumpkin roll and baked it in a jelly roll pan. I made the filling the same way as the pumpkin roll, but used cinnamon extract to flavor instead of the vanilla. I proceeded as I would the pumpkin roll, and wrapped it up in plastic and refrigerated it to let the flavors “steep” together. When dh and I had it, I was in heaven! It was sooo good! I shared it with a friend of mine, who had never had fresh gingerbread, and she fell in love with it too! Y’all should try it!

Anyway, I need to go. I have to get the girls ready for bed. I hope to write again soon!

God bless.