"A snowman is the perfect man. He's well rounded and comes with a broom."
Author Unknown

Winter 2015 Sweet & Kind Drawing
(a $125.00 value)

Drawing March 10

This giveaway includes gifts to help you be a little kinder to yourself and add some sweetness to your life!

How to Enter: Between dishing up healthy meals, raising kids, taking vacations, and buying groceries, and household and pet supplies, not to mention Christmas and birthday presents, how do you do it all and stay within your budget? Send me an e-mail sharing your favorite money saving secrets.

I'll post entries in future updates to help each of us cut expenses.

Box contains:
One Perfect Word by Debbie Macomber, Chicken Soup for the Soul The Power of Forgiveness, Earth Therapeutics microwaveable Comfort Wrap, luxurious Olivina Lavender Body Butter, Chicken Soup for the Soul Shaping the New You, Wow Hits 2015 Deluxe ed. CD, Tea Forte' Dolce Vita (dessert teas assortment), and a Theo Organic Cherry Almond Dark Chocolate bar!

*** U.S. entries only please

Delight Your Winter Birds

Just like our beloved dogs and cats, our backyard birds adore special treats. Friendly Flickers, Steller's jay, and Woodpeckers swoop in to feast on my exceptional suet cakes! Here's my recipe so you can serve up your own bird buffet.

1 2/3 Cups Suet (1 1/4 lbs. of beef fat, see instructions below for rendering fat)
1 2/3 Cups fresh ground peanut butter
1/3 Cup peanuts, shelled, skins removed, and chopped
1/2 Cup raw sunflower seeds, shelled and unsalted
2 Cups quality Bird Seed

To Render Fat into Suet
Purchase beef fat from the butcher at your local store. Cut fat into about 1 inch pieces. Hint: the smaller the pieces of fat, the faster they melt.

Heat chopped fat in a skillet on a low burner. Don't use higher temperatures to melt the suet faster as this can lead to fires or scorching. This process took me about an hour.

Strain liquid fat to separate from the cracklings (bits of browned meat and fat pieces that did not melt). Pour liquid into an 8x8" dish and let cool until mostly solid.

Suet Cake Instructions:
In a bowl thoroughly mix suet and peanut butter together. Add nuts and seeds. Mix well. Spread mixture in 4 ½ X 4 ½" clean plastic trays. I reuse trays leftover from suet cakes purchased from the store. Put cakes in freezer long enough to harden. Store in a clean bread sack in the frig with sheets of wax paper between trays. Makes four suet cakes.

Added fat from this snack helps your backyard birds stay warm in wintery weather!

"The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size."
~ Gertrude S. Wister

What's Blooming?

The winter garden can appear rather dismal if it isn't buried under fluffy mounds of snow. Through the years we've added bursts of color, fragrance, and texture to our yard with these winter show-offs.

Pink Dawn Viburnum - a vase-shaped deciduous shrub. We keep ours pruned to about 8' high with a 6' wide spread at the top. Pink buds, so fragrant you'll think you dropped into a perfumery, open as early as December and bloom well into February. Bring cut branches indoors to accent a lovely winter bouquet. Cinnamon colored bark and reddish-bronze fall leaves add to this shrub's interest. Hardiness: USDA Planting Zones 5 to 9.

Hellebores - better known as the Christmas or Lenten Rose grow in full flowered clumps and are available in garden centers in early January. While not fragrant, these shade lovers come in a variety of colors and options of double to single petal flowers with blossoms facing down or upward. Last year cotton candy and golden lotus made beautiful additions to our yard. Zones 6-9.

Witch hazel - Starting in January splashes of brilliant red, orange, and yellow blooms line bare branches of this fragrant shrub. You'll find witch hazel in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit almost any yard. Grow in zones 3-9.

Readers Share About the Power of Words

Nat - The nicest words (besides I love you), were "How can I help?" It touched me deep down into my soul... it was a sincere offer that did not dictate to me, did not coddle me, did not demean me & did not reduce me to helplessness. It was an offer to HELP...to work alongside me. It was awesome!

Emily - As a young mother with a lot on my plate, I often feel like I am doing it all wrong! I'm sure most mothers can relate to the feeling of too many mess ups and mistakes. We beat ourselves up for every single mishap or moment of stress we allow to alter our attitudes, regardless of the fact that no one is perfect.

The words of encouragement that mean the most to me are the moments when my 4 year-old daughter wraps her arms around me to tell me she loves me and says, "You're the greatest mom ever!" My girls mean the world to me. While I focus on all my flaws, they only see the best in me. It doesn't get any better than that!!

Ann -The first thing that comes to my mind since I recently fell and hurt my knees and had to walk with a cane for a while. My 3 year old great granddaughter wanted me to play with her and I told her it is hard for me to walk. She took my hand and said to me, "Now just take it slow Great Grandma. Nice and easy. I will help you." LOL God love her.

Lucy - The most encouraging thing anyone did for me was my sister in 1992. I had left my abusive husband after 18.5 years and he broke into my apartment and destroyed all my books, even my childhood ones, jewelry, clothes, etc. Let's just say almost everything, except the kids' possessions. My sister encouraged me and helped us move. Without her love and pep talks and our faith I wouldn't be here today.

Connie - Many years ago, as a young woman who had never had a weight problem, I suddenly had a tremendous weight gain because of my pregnancy.

In a matter of a few weeks, I saw two long time acquaintances. The first one remarked how much weight I had gained and I was crushed. A few weeks later, when I saw the second person at a distance, I started to turn away but I am so glad that I didn't. She was very glad to see me and she remarked how well I was looking.

Now I know that she had also noticed my change in appearance but she made it a positive and loving observation. From that moment on, I have made it my mission to build up instead of tearing down.

Words Matter

From the words we tell ourselves to those we speak to others, words matter.

Proverbs 16:24 says, "Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones."

When people speak sweet words of truth to us, it warms our heart, lifts our spirit, and gives us hope.

Here's a few life-giving words

  • I appreciate you and the hard work you do.
  • You're a great mom/dad.
  • I have confidence in you.
  • Thank you for listening
  • I'm thankful you're my husband/wife.
  • I'm proud of you.
  • Wow! You're so creative.
  • You look fantastic.
  • I trust your decision.
  • Way to go! Great job!
  • You're so smart.
  • I'm here for you.
  • What can I do to help?.
  • You have such great ideas.
  • You're so handsome.
  • I love your laugh.
  • I'm glad I married you.
  • You're an amazing person.
  • I love spending time with you.
  • I believe in you.
  • Don't worry, tomorrow will be better.
  • You can do this.

For more encouraging phrases skip over to: https://www.mothersniche.com/words-affirmation-every-relationship-needs-to-hear

"One kind word can warm three winter months."
A Japanese Proverb