Monday, December 10, 2018

Do You Have Vivid Dreams? Do You Record Them?

I am a vivid dreamer, almost always in color. As a Christian, I believe God can speak to us through dreams, though not always. I trust the Holy Spirit to guide me when my dreams are vivid enough that I remember them when I wake up.

Today, I have a new release! My Dream Journal: A Notebook for Tracking and Interpreting Dreams is a journal to keep at your bedside to record those dreams. If you're anything like me, once your brain kicks into gear for the day, the dreams vanish. I keep a notebook beside the bed to write down my dreams (and any book ideas that pop into my head just as I'm falling asleep). My Dream Journal now gives you space to explore those dreams, hunt for symbols, seek for meanings, and interpret the dreams.

I'll share a recent dream so you can see how I use My Dream Journal.

My most recent dream was a couple of days ago. I was in a huge, white room with florescent lights overhead. Lots of tables, lots of mess around, and I was trying to get it all organized. I had help: Alan Alda and Richard Schiff (we're currently re-watching The West Wing, but we're not yet to Alan Alan's time there, so his presence surprised me.) Richard Schiff was flustered and agitated, pacing all over the place - in perfect Toby character. Alan Alda came in with a briefcase inside box. The briefcase couldn't close all the way because it was overflowing with papers spilling out everywhere, so he was using the box to hold it all together. He brought it to the one table I'd just cleared, and dumped it for me to fix. Toby just kept pacing around. Then I woke up.

In My Dream Journal, I first write down an account on the dream on the journal pages - just tell the story as I remember it, recording it as quickly as I can without thinking about it too much. Then, on the Key Elements page, I record the celebrities, the white lights, the room, the pacing, the briefcase, the box, the mess, and the tables. Those things stood out to me most, so each one gets its own box for interpreting. On the interpretation page, I record the date, the mood I was in when I fell asleep and then again when I woke up, and the last foods I ate before sleeping. (Sounds stereotypical, but you may see patterns develop). My Dream Journal also has sketch pages, in case I need to sketch out anything. I can't draw stick figures, so those pages are used for any questions that form as I research or for any shape or design I might see in the dream that words can't describe.

When I'm awake and have a few moments of spare time, I research the symbolism from each one. Please use caution and utmost discernment in your research. Let the Holy Spirit guide you.

I use the dictionary at DreamMoods to help me. This is not a site that I wholeheartedly recommend, but it is one that I use and it has proved useful in the past. Again, use caution and discernment as you explore the site. I pray as I read over each item, asking the Holy Spirit to alert me to anything He wants me to see, and to blind me to anything He doesn't.

From my findings there on this dream:

The briefcase seems to represent my current state of preparedness, and since we're currently in the middle of a family crisis, this resonates with our current situation. I'm trying to make order out of the chaos. The mess represents the chaos and suggests I need to get my life in order.

Right below the word briefcase, I notice the word bright, and the Holy Spirit nudges me. The room in my dream was exceptionally bright. Bright white. In the dictionary, bright represents Divinity, and that resonates with me, too. Even in the midst of chaos, God is right there with me, surrounding me, enveloping me with His peace (represented by the white.)

The celebrities are interesting for a couple of different reasons. We're in the season of The West Wing where Toby is highly agitated and angry, frustrated with the direction of his work and his personal life. He's ready to blow a gasket, and that's honestly the way I've felt the last few months as we've dealt with one crisis after another.

At some point in the last couple of weeks, I thought about Alan Alda's Hawkeye character in the final episodes of M*A*S*H and how he had a mental breakdown from seeing all that he has seen and experienced during the war, and then the final danger than triggered his break.

We're dealing with a loved one's mental illness. Every day is like a roller coaster - we never know what to expect from one day to the next. We walk on eggshells, never knowing what any of us might say or do that could serve as a trigger that could send our loved one over the edge. (The day after I had this dream, the trigger was pulled. Our loved one is now in the hospital.)

Our dreams can serve as warnings or instruction or prophecy - and we usually don't realize it until after the fact. Writing down our dreams - recording details in a journal - helps us track the dreams and make sense of them as a whole.

My Dream Journal is now available on Amazon.



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Original Photography Turned into Art
Some funky, some beautiful.
Some bold, some gentle.
Some playful, some romantic.








Saturday, December 8, 2018

Holiday Recipes Master List



We're wrapping up the Holiday Recipes Blog Hop today. We hope you've had fun and found a few new recipes to try. If you're just joining us, here's a handy list so you can find them all.


Holiday Appetizers – Tracy Ruckman

Holiday Beverages – Rachel Hartsfield

International Holiday Foods – Peggy Cunningham

Holiday Breakfasts & Brunches – Betty Thomason Owens

Holiday Main Courses – Sheryl Holmes


Holiday Sweets – Rachel Hartsfield

Holiday Recipes Master List – Tracy Ruckman

I want to thank all my precious friends for participating during this busy time of  year. I loved reading your stories and I'm looking forward to trying all your food!

A huge thank you to all our readers, clients, and customers - we do what we do for YOU. We appreciate your support, your encouragement, your purchases of our books, products, and services. All of us are "small business" and we depend on readers and clients like you to continue doing our work.

We love reading your reviews and testimonials, and we love chatting with you when given the opportunity. We are also incredibly grateful for and honored by your prayers for us all.

I'd like to add one additional recipe to our week's event. I shared the recipe and story a few years ago, but now there's an addition.

My paternal grandmother, Nanny, made the best divinity in the world. When I became an adult, I tried to make it every year. Some years I was successful, other years I was not. Just before Nanny went to Heaven, she told me the secret - it all had to do with the humidity. (I guess you see the importance of family recipes here, can't you?) If the humidity was too high, the divinity wouldn't set properly; if it was too low, the candy would be dry.

For several years, I followed this guideline - 57% humidity seemed to be perfect for candy-making. (In the South, those percentages don't get that low very often, so we watched the weather gauges carefully once Thanksgiving came.)

Then my husband Tim entered the picture with his mother's divinity recipe. The ingredients were almost identical, but the cooking methods were different - and Edie's recipe did not rely on the weather. Since Edie's recipe is top secret, I’ve combine recipes and tips to ensure success every time! It helps to have two or more people making this together, and having a stand mixer is especially helpful. It’s a great recipe to make with generations in the kitchen at the same time.

Nanny's & Edie's Divinity

5 cups white, granulated sugar
1 cup Karo Light corn syrup
1 cup water
4 egg whites
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 cups chopped pecans, optional
Maraschino cherries, optional

Mix sugar, water, syrup together in large saucepan. Bring to boil, then boil until the liquid "spins a thread," stirring constantly. While the mixture is boiling, separate eggs and put the whites in a large mixing bowl. When the sugar mixture spins a thread, pour half of boiling liquid into the egg whites, beating with mixer as you pour. The mixture will begin to expand. Put the remaining liquid back on the stove and bring it back to a rolling boil. Then pour all of it into the expanding egg white mixture while continuing to beat.

Beat until the mixture a minute more, then use a large spoon to stir the mixture several times, until it gets a dull finish. Then, add nuts or chopped cherries if you wish, then very quickly, drop by rounded teaspoons on large sheets of waxed paper. Immediately top with cherry halves or pecan halves, as you wish. Let cool. Store on waxed paper layers in air tight containers.

Divinity makes great gifts, and it's easy enough to mix and match different kinds. Some batches we leave out all nuts and cherries, topping only with one or the other. Some batches are deluxe, and have a little of all of it. The fun part is that each kind tastes very different. Even though you make a large batch, it will disappear very quickly - at least it does in our family.

The same year I took the photo above, I took several others of the divinity in different containers. One of my favorites was with this ceramic bowl.


When I started tinkering with all the artwork and designs, I took this image and turned it into some fun pop art that's now on dozens of different products.



I think Nanny and Edie would get tickled over these!

You'll find these in my Christmas Collection on Zazzle.


May God fill your hearts and homes with His love and peace this holiday season. May the birth of Jesus always be a significant event in our lives, and may we never take His sacrifice for granted.

Merry Christmas from all of us to all of you!


Please help me thank all the Holiday Recipes Blog Hop Participants:

Peggy Cunningham is an author of children's books and women's devotionals. She and her husband serve as missionaries in Bolivia. 




Really Rare Rabbits Series


  


Peggy's website: www.PeggyCunningham.com


Rachel Hartsfield is a small business owner, representing Senegence, a line of beauty and skin care products. Join her closed Facebook group for health & beauty tips, encouragement, and inspiration.


Rachel's website: Real Life with Rachel



Betty Thomason Owens is a speaker and author of several fiction series.



Betty's website: www.BettyThomasonOwens.com


Sheryl Holmes is an author, speaker, mental health & addiction advocate, and cancer survivor.


Sheryl's website: www.SherylHolmes.com


Fay Lamb is an author, editor, writing coach and teacher.



Find all of Fay's books on her Amazon Author Page.



Tracy Ruckman is an author, screenwriter, and artist. Her latest books include The Young Storyteller's Prompt and Draw Series and the Fishing Journal. Her latest artwork can be found at www.TMPixArt.com and in her Zazzle store.

  

  







Recent posts:



Recent Posts from TMP Books:


Thank you for supporting authors, small businesses, and artists during the busy holiday season! We are truly grateful for your business!





Come visit my TMPix Art Shop on Zazzle!
Original Photography Turned into Art
Some funky, some beautiful.
Some bold, some gentle.
Some playful, some romantic.






Thursday, December 6, 2018

Holiday Sides, Potluck, Buffet Recipes


Hello, again! How are you enjoying the Holiday Recipes Blog Hop? In case you're just tuning in, be sure to drop by Rachel's for some warming and fun holiday beverages, Peggy's for an international flare, Betty's for breakfast and brunch ideas, Sheryl's for the main course, and I offered some recipes for holiday appetizers, too. Rachel will offer some sweet recipes tomorrow, and I'll round it all up on Saturday, with an extra surprise or two.

Today, we're talking side dishes, potluck, and buffet recipes. My tip for all of these recipes is to adjust accordingly for crowd size. All of these recipes can be doubled or tripled for large crowds, and even be scaled down for a small gathering. Variety is the key to a successful buffet - smaller in quantity, more in variety.

In our family, it's rare to have a regular sit-down dinner during the holidays. Many of us are awesome cooks, and we all know the hard work involved in preparing a bountiful meal for a hungry crew. Serving meals in potluck or buffet style reduces the amount of work for everyone, and allows us all to try new dishes or old favorites.

My favorite side dish during the holidays has to be dressing. In our family, we never stuffed the turkey, so it's always been called dressing.

My mom gave me the flavor of dressing I like the most - sage. But her dressing was always too dry for my tastes (sorry, Mom.) Once I started making it on my own, and trying other versions from other people, I discovered I could create the same flavor with a moister texture. Of course, along the way, I also almost overdosed my kids on sage, because I like it so much. They - and now Tim - always tell me, "don't make it too green."

NOTE: I rarely measure anything, so the measurements below are guesses, and always adjusted to my taste as I'm cooking. Feel free to adjust as needed to meet your own taste and preference.

Tracy's Cornbread Dressing

1 pan prepared and baked cornbread, then crumbled (I use the recipe on the back of the self-rising cornmeal package - the kind without sugar - and when I'm making dressing, I add one additional egg to the mixture, for moisture)
1/2 loaf white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tablespoon sage (feel free to adjust according to preference - but from my experience, there is such a thing as too much, so if this is your first time, use restraint)
salt and pepper to taste
Chicken broth and/or turkey drippings

Mix the breads, veggies, and seasonings, stirring together in a large bowl until well mixed. Then begin adding the broth and/or drippings. I never measure the amounts, but for this amount, I would guess that 32 to 48 oz should be about right if you want a dressing that is more moist than dry. I sometimes use drippings, but most of the time, make the dressing ahead of time, so I use stock or broth in a 32-oz box and have two on hand in case I need them. For a moist dressing, the texture should be wet, but not soupy.

Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then stir again. If needed, add more broth at this point.

Then pour into a 13x9 pan and bake at 375 for 45 minutes. (Timing and temps can be adjusted if you have other things in the oven.)


I asked my friend, Fay Lamb, for a recipe to include her in our blog hop. She readily admits she's not a cook, but I love Fay and her wackiness, and she's a vital part of my daily life, so she had to somehow be included.

I was happy to receive this note and recipe from her, but now I have to figure out where to put this - with all the other sides, or on the dessert table?

From Fay:

I don’t recall a Thanksgiving where candied sweet potatoes weren’t on the table. I always looked forward to this treat, and now I make sure it is a part of our family tradition.

Fay's Candied Sweet Potatoes

3 to 4 sweet potatoes, boiled, skinned (I have learned that boiling them in salt water for 20-30 minutes, taking them out, and peeling them immediately with a silver fork, pulls the skin away very easily)
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup butter
Marshmallows (large or small) to cover

Halve potatoes lengthwise and place in a shallow, greased baking dish. Cook the water and sugar together to make syrup. Pour syrup over potatoes, dot with butter, and cover the sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the marshmallows begin to brown.

Thanks for sharing with us, Fay!

I'm putting together a special Christmas gift for Tim, so I asked his cousins and sister for some recipes and pictures. His cousin, Leah Mackin Washburn, sent me a recipe for her mac & cheese and I couldn't wait to try it. It's one of the best mac & cheese recipes I've ever had - I've made it twice since I got the recipe!

One of our local Ingles stores sells jumbo macaroni, so that's what I use for this recipe. I also use extra sharp cheddar because that's what I buy regularly.

Mackin Cheese 

2 8-oz. pkgs Kraft medium cheddar cheese
1 8-oz box elbow macaroni
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
2 eggs
4 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil noodles in salt water with a little drizzle of oil. Stir often. Cook 9 minutes, drain and then rinse in cold water. Set aside.

In a large bowl, grate cheese (set a little aside for the topping). Melt butter and let it cool a little. Beat eggs, add salt and pepper, the mix everything - cheese, butter, eggs, and macaroni. Stir until well mixed. Pour into a 2-quart casserole dish and distribute evenly, then top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Thanks for allowing me to share the recipe, Leah! Here's a picture of the batch I made last week. There may or may not be a corner sampled before serving.

I called my mom to ask her for other ideas. She named several faster than I could write them down, and reminded me of others I've made over the years. We decided I needed to add some more fruits and vegetables to the mix.

Growing up, we always had a fruit salad with our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. I'd hear other people describe Waldorf salad or their own fruit salads, and while they came close, no one seemed to make it the same way my mom did.

Mom's Fruit Salad

(amounts can be adjusted for the crowd)

1-2 bananas, peeled and sliced
1 cup of grapes, cut in half (and seeded, if needed)
1 large Granny Smith apple, skin on, cored and chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 Red Delicious apple, skin on, cored and chopped into bite-sized chunks
1-2 naval oranges
1/2 cup chopped nuts (we always had pecans growing up, but I've also used walnuts, almonds, or cashews)
Kraft Mayonnaise

Prepare the bananas, grapes, and apples and place in a large bowl. Immediately peel the oranges and supreme them. I usually do this over the bowl of apples, so the juice goes into the bowl. (Here's a helpful video that shows how I do it - if you're new to the kitchen, or not terribly handy with a knife, or your mom worries about you, use a cutting board.) The juice keeps the apples and bananas from turning brown, so after the orange pieces are in the bowl, stir to mix and coat.

Then add the nuts and mayonnaise. I didn't include a measurement of mayo, because I usually just add a couple of tablespoons and keep adding until it's coated the way I like it. The amount of juice from the oranges will change how the mayo coats the fruit, so you may not get exact results every time. For our own family, the Kraft mayo is the key - other brands change the flavor for us.

Stir to mix, then cover and refrigerate until needed. We usually make this recipe first thing in the morning, for an afternoon meal, to keep it as fresh as possible.

A few years ago, I needed a quick vegetable side dish. I went through our almost bare pantry and freezer, and used what I had on hand. I'd always heard of Green Beans Almondine, but thought they were too fancy - until I looked them up online and discovered that was exactly what I'd just made myself. (And now, I just don't understand people thinking this is a "fancy" dish. It's too simple to be called fancy.)

Green Beans Almondine
Photo from the 99 Cent Chef Blog

Green beans (fresh or frozen - I love Italian style frozen)
Slivered or sliced almonds
water
Salt
butter
lemon juice

Toast the almonds in an empty skillet on low heat until just slightly browned. Set aside.

In a large skillet, add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, then add one package of green beans and salt to taste. Saute until beans are done (most of the water should have cooked away.) Add a couple of tablespoons of butter, and add toasted almonds. Stir gently as butter melts. Add juice of one lemon. Serve immediately.


Don't forget to stop by the other blogs on our Holiday Recipes Blog Hop. Links below activate on the day they're scheduled.


FRI, Nov 30: Holiday Appetizers – Tracy Ruckman
SAT, Dec 2: Holiday Beverages – Rachel Hartsfield
MON, Dec 3: International Holiday Foods – Peggy Cunningham
TUES, Dec 4: Holiday Breakfasts & Brunches – Betty Thomason Owens
WED, Dec 5: Holiday Main Courses – Sheryl Holmes
THURS, Dec 6: Holiday Sides / Potluck / Buffets – Tracy Ruckman
FRI, Dec 7: Holiday Sweets – Rachel Hartsfield
SAT, Dec 8: Holiday Recipes Master List – Tracy Ruckman


Recent posts:



Recent Posts from TMP Books:


Thank you for supporting authors, small businesses, and artists during the busy holiday season! We are grateful for your business!


Hooray for Holidays Series by Peggy Cunningham





Come visit my TMPix Art Shop on Zazzle!
Original Photography Turned into Art
Some funky, some beautiful.
Some bold, some gentle.
Some playful, some romantic.



Saturday, December 1, 2018

Questions about Purpose

What if our purpose in life is not what you think it is? Not what the world teaches us it should be?

What if our purpose in life here on earth isn't to become rich or famous or to "live life abundantly"?

I'm not saying we CAN'T or SHOULDN'T become rich or famous or live life abundantly. I'm saying we need to stop lumping everyone into one extreme or another. We have a personal, relational God, and His purpose for each of us varies as much as His designs for snowflakes, tears, and sand. He's not a cookie cutter God, molding and shaping us into a one-size-fits-all Christian. 

In the Gospels, Mark shares the story about the widow's mite in chapter 12. 

41 And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. 

42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. 

43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 

44 for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” (NASB)

This wasn't one of His parables. Jesus had been sharing parables earlier in the day, but then sat down, observing the people around Him. Calling the disciples over, He pointed out the widow and used her as an example to teach them. 

Scripture doesn't say that Jesus relieved the widow of her poverty. The Bible doesn't say that God blessed her abundantly for her faithfulness. Jesus did not tell the disciples to go take care of the woman's needs to get her back on her feet.

But the widow, even in her lack, served His purpose as an example to teach others.

What if your own lack (financial, spiritual, mental, physical, emotional) is to serve a purpose outside of yourself? What if your own lack is to teach others? What if your own lack is your very purpose?

We all want to prosper. We all want to be healthy. We all want to be successful. 

But do we want God's will for our lives more than we want anything else? What if that means giving up those things? Is that enough for us? 

Jesus Himself is another example of this. He came to earth as a baby. He wasn't wealthy. He wasn't a property owner. He stated that He didn't even have a place to lay His head. (Luke 9:58 and Matthew 8:20). He had nothing. He gave up everything. He gave His life. He suffered. To accomplish God's purpose for His life.

None of the disciples had it easy either. Nor did Mother Teresa, Corrie ten Boom, and countless others who have suffered here on earth. People who love the Lord, who lead "right lives." 

What if God's purpose for our lives is to suffer? Are you willing?

If God's purpose for someone is to suffer, how do you respond to them? How do you interact with them?

What do you do about their suffering?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Thank you for supporting authors, small businesses, and artists during the busy holiday season! We are grateful for your business!


Hooray for Holidays Series by Peggy Cunningham