Oil Lamps as Holiday Gifts

(Update - I updated this post slightly as one of the oil lamps listed here originally was no longer available. Please take a look at the rest and remember that oil lamps make a wonderful holiday gift!)

 I love oil lamps! I think I fell in love with oil lamps when I was a child and my parents would take us kids to our Grandma's house for a visit; her small house didn't have electricity and she lit the place with kerosene lamps. The soft, warm glow of that light, and the warmth of being with family is still a pleasant memory.
My oil lamps are not just decorative - I use my oil lamps - they are great to use when a storm rolls through in the warm months and knocks out the electricity - and I also use them during the winter months just because they give off a warm glow during the harsh cold weather. The warm light makes makes my house feel warmer!

Some of my oil lamps I bought for myself, but some have been gifts. Lamps, and oil, and light are meaningful for many people spiritually and I can't think of a nicer gift - especially this time of year. Christians celebrate Christmas, marking when Light came into the world, the Jews celebrate Hanukkah, and remember the oil that lasted for eight days, and even Pagans look forward to the Winter Solstice when the shortest day comes and light begins to return to the world. Oil lamps make great gifts!

I've been looking around and found a couple of amazing oil lamps available at Amazon - 
(set of 5 -click picture for more information or to buy these lamps)

This little olive oil lamp, about 3 1/2 inches long, is made to look like a lamp from Biblical times. The description says you can burn olive oil, or just about any type of oil in it. You can get a set of 5 of these. I can't think of a more meaningful gift this time of year.
Or if you prefer, you can buy just one as a special gift.

(buy one - click picture for more information or to buy this lamp)

This olive oil lamp is a replica of lamps used during the time of King Herod - during Jesus's time!  It is palm sized, and uses olive oil. What an incredible, and meaningful, gift this would be for someone you love!
(click picture for more information or to buy this lamp)

And this lamp is beautiful! Look at the color of that base! But as I write this, there are only a handful left so if you are going to buy one, you'd better hurry! It is 12 1/4 inches tall with a beaded design bottom and it burns kerosene, lamp oil, citronella or liquid paraffin. 

(click picture for more information or to buy this lamp)

So, if you are looking for a holiday gift idea, consider an oil lamp!
 Bring a lamp, some oil, and some light into someone's life. 

Disclosure - Life At The Drafty Doublewide (Kathy!) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Time to Make Rugelach Cookies

Back in the 1980's I was hooked on "Entenmann's Rugelach" cookies. Yum! But then, they were gone. I went without rugelach for many years until one day I decided I would look for a recipe and try making them myself - and they were tasty! They take a little bit of effort to make, but they are worth it! A rich dough is rolled out, topped with your choice of filling and then cut and rolled up into little horns, squares or bundles.
The basic dough is flour, butter, cream cheese and salt; other cooks add sour cream, vanilla flavoring, egg yolk. I think there are as many rugelach recipes as there are cooks!
The traditional fillings are apricot jam, cinnamon nut, and chocolate, but some cooks use raspberry jam, pistachio nut filling or even Nutella.

Rugelach are a traditional cookie for Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukkah), but they are good anytime! With more "sophisticated" fillings like pistachio, and apricot, they would be great for an adult holiday gathering.

Recipes for Rugelach
This is pretty much the recipe that I use but I use apricot jam or chocolate for the filling -
Jewish Rugelach Recipe

This recipe uses chocolate and cinnamon in the filling. Oh, yum!
Israeli Chocolate Rugelach Recipe

Rugelach recipe from Hershey's Kitchens has chocolate walnut filling -
Hershey's Kitchen Rugelach

This Rugelach recipe from King Arthur Flour includes pictures to show the process of preparing your rugelach cookies for baking!
Holiday Baking Traditions - Rugelach

Want to learn more about Hanukkah?

Hanukkah begins the evening of Saturday, December 8th, and continues through Sunday, December 16th.

What is Chanukkah?

What is Hanukkah?

Monday Motivation - Make a Difference

Today is "cyber Monday" and it is a great time to shop online for holiday gifts and bargains for yourself, but it is also a great time to remember those who are struggling financially. There are 46.2 million people just in the United States living in poverty and the unemployment rate in many communities is in the double digits. For these people, "cyber Monday" is another day of trying to figure out how to pay the heating bill, pay the mortgage or rent, and put food on the table. How many of these people are facing the holiday season and looking at their children and trying to figure out a way to tell them that Santa Claus will not be visiting their home this year?

So for this "cyber Monday", get motivated to make a difference - take advantage of those bargains, save on holiday gifts, buy those things that you need while they are at the best price of the year, but please remember those who are less fortunate.

* Find a toy online that is a really great deal? Why not buy two and donate one to Toys for Tots or a "toy box" run by a local charity?
* Save 30% on your new winter coat? Why not donate part of your savings to a local food pantry?
* Thinking about buying Great Aunt Gertrude a fruitcake for Christmas? Pass on the fruitcake and donate the money to charity in her name instead - someone in need will benefit from the donation and Great Aunt Gertrude won't have to lie to you and tell you she loves fruitcake! 

Toys for Tots accepts toys at many drop-off locations, and they also accept monetary donations - 
Toys for Tots Website 

The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank distributes food to more than 700 food pantries, shelters, and soup kitchens in 27 Pennsylvania counties and you can donate money online -
Central Pennsylvania Food Bank Website

May your week be filled with great bargains, and warm fuzzy feelings!

TV chef Art Ginsburg - Mr. Food - dies at 81 - abc27 WHTM

TV chef Art Ginsburg - Mr. Food - dies at 81 - abc27 WHTM

"Mr. Food" was the real reason I would watch the noon news. He seemed like such a nice guy that when he would proclaim his simple recipe to be "Ooohh, It's so good!" it was like it was more than just the recipe that was good - it was life itself!
"Mr. Food" will be missed by many - including me.
Rest in Peace.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

May your day be blessed, your turkey be moist, and your relatives be especially pleasant.

Clayton Homes Contest

Clayton Homes is having a contest and you can enter each week until 12/12/12 to win a $5000 VISA gift card. And entrants receive a $500 Clayton Homes voucher just for entering!

Lack of Motivation Monday

photo source
I've been writing posts called "Monday Motivation" for a while now but today, I decided, is "Lack of Motivation Monday." I can't think of any other Monday when people will be so lacking in motivation to get up, get started and get to work.

For one thing, for most people, it is a short work week. Thursday is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States and most people have Thursday off from work, and many people have both Thursday and Friday off. People's thoughts have turned to the holiday - turkey, visiting, family, football, snoozing in the armchair, Grandma's favorite overseasoned stuffing, pumpkin pie with whipped cream! For some this Monday will be spent in a pre-turkey, pre-travel haze.
Then there is "Black Friday" at the end of the week. What can I say about Black Friday? I heard on the news that there are people camping out in front of stores already. Already! And they've been there for a couple of days!

But it is also "Lack of Motivation Monday" because we are living in a time of two economies in this country.
For some people, this morning they are facing the upcoming holidays with no job. The last jobs report showed an increase in people filing for unemployment, and that wasn't all because of "Superstorm Sandy" because two states with big increases in unemployment were Pennsylvania, and Ohio. For the people on the downside of the economy, today is "Lack of Motivation Monday" because they are looking at the possibility of not having Christmas, of not having gifts for the children, of how they are going to pay the mortgage and buy groceries. They are going to be met today with a mass of advertisements for things they are not going to be able to afford to buy. It's depressing, and not conducive to being motivated.

Then, there is the other side of the economy - the people who are working and looking forward to a great holiday season. The advertisements are a welcome sight, luring them to the department stores, enticing them to click on Amazon, Sears, and Kohl's ads, begging them to open their wallets and purses and spend, spend, spend! Black Friday is starting on Thursday this year at a lot of stores, and there will be those people who will be there at the crack of the door waiting, in a turkey and stuffing induced daze.
And then there is decorating, and cookie baking, and Christmas tree buying, and package mailing, and card sending... it is a holiday frenzy. And it starts today - on "Lack of Motivation Monday."

So, for this "Lack of Motivation Monday" I wish you "happy hunting" : To the job hunters - may your job hunt be successful and may you find the perfect situation making even more than you were before; and to the bargain hunters, may your week be filled with perfect deals and great buys!

Have a Blessed Week!

Holiday Lights at Lakemont Park

The Holiday Lights on the Lake display at Lakemont Park in Altoona, PA starts on November 22, 2012!

Hubby and I went to this for the first time last year and we are planning to go back again this year. We'd never visited a big holiday lights display before and this did not disappoint! It was magical -even for us! I can't imagine how excited kids would be to see the display!
The place was busy the night we went, and the cars snaked slowly through the parking lot before entering the park, but, you can tune to the Lakemont radio broadcast and enjoy holiday music to get into the spirit while you wait. There was also a snack bar set up, in case you wanted a tasty treat or a warm drink to enjoy as you moved through the line. It was worth the wait! We ooohhhed and aaahhhed and just really enjoyed it!

In addition to the lights display, there is a model train display, a gift shop, refreshments available and also Santa's Village so the kids can visit and have their picture taken with Santa.

The display is open every night from 6-10 pm from November 22 to January 6.
For more information - Lakemont Park and Island Waterpark Holiday Lights on the Lake

Favorite Bluegrass Christmas Songs

( Update! - I wrote this post last year and thought I would bump it! It is hard to believe that today is October 30th already - Christmas will be here before you know it! I admit that I have already been enjoying listening to Christmas music...)

I tuned the radio to my favorite station today and they have already started playing Christmas music 24/7 and it's not even Thanksgiving yet!
But, that is okay - I enjoy Christmas music and especially bluegrass Christmas songs. I grew up listening to the sounds of bluegrass and country music and during the holidays, the old songs bring back pleasant memories of my Mom and Dad, and "days of yore"!

I have discovered that with the help of MP3 downloads, I (and we!) can make our own playlist of Christmas favorites! I love that - you can choose just the songs you want instead of buying the whole album (that's an older folks version of CDs if any of you younger people are reading this!) and so you can save money by getting exactly what you want, or you can go completely overboard and buy a whole CD! Nice!

These are some of my favorite bluegrass Christmas songs and they are available for download at Amazon.
(The following are clickable links and there are song previews available!)

Old Fashioned Christmas by Jimmy Martin

It's Christmas Time by The Louvin Brothers

Christmas Time Back Home by The Country Gentlemen

Light Of The Stable by Emmylou Harris

This song I can't decide which version I like better - there is a version by Ralph Stanley that is wonderful, but the version by Larry Sparks is great, too! You decide! -

Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem by Ralph Stanley

Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem by Larry Sparks

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs? Is there one song that brings back memories of  "days of yore" for you, too? 

Another Webcam for Cat Lovers

There is a new streaming webcam that just started a couple of days ago and I am loving these kitties!
The webcam is at the Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary in St. Pauls, NC.
This cam isn't 24 hours (at least not yet!) but it is on during the day. Check out these sweet cats on the Ustream Cam at Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary!

Here is a video of a couple of the kitties playing for you to enjoy -

How adorable are they?!
Check out the webcam - Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary

Cookies! Oatmeal Cookies Two Ways

(image source)
The temptation to bake holiday cookies overcame me and I had to bake a batch (yes, already!) - much to the delight of my hubby! I had all the ingredients I needed for oatmeal cookies, and also a few chocolate chips, so I decided to experiment and make oatmeal cookies two ways - oatmeal cinnamon, and oatmeal chocolate chip.

The recipe is a simple, basic oatmeal cookie recipe. I mixed the dough, and then divided it into two parts so I could flavor one half with cinnamon, and add chocolate chips to the other half.
I served the cookies warm from the oven with a glass of cold milk!

Oatmeal Cookies Two Ways

1 cup margarine (or you can use shortening)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 beaten eggs
1Tbsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3 cups of oatmeal

1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream margarine, brown sugar, and white sugar until creamy and well mixed.
Mix in eggs and vanilla. Beat until well blended.
Sift in flour, salt and baking soda. (I put the dry ingredients in a sieve and sift them right into the bowl.)
Mix until well blended.
Stir in oatmeal.

Divide dough into two portions. (I just spooned out about half of the dough into another bowl.)
To one portion, add 1 tsp. of cinnamon and mix well.
To the other portion, add 1 cup of chocolate chips and mix well.

Drop dough by tablespoonsful about two inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for 9-12 minutes until lightly browned.
Remove from oven and let sit for one minute before putting onto wire rack to cool.  
Serve up and enjoy!

Variations -
* add 1/2 cup of raisins to the oatmeal cinnamon dough
* instead of 1 cup of chocolate chips, you could add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans. Yummy!

Monday Motivation

Get Something Done!

1. The first step is often the hardest step to take.

2. Make a list of things you've been putting off doing.

3. Even if you don't complete any of those things this week, you can at least say that you've written a list!

May you have a week full of delight, smiles, and hope!

My First Year of Blogging

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of "the drafty doublewide" blog! 

What I Have Learned During My First Year of Blogging... 

1. Mommy Bloggers rule the "household" blogosphere. When it comes to cleaning hints, couponing, recipes, anything household related, Mommy Bloggers have it locked up - and there are a lot of them. And they move in herds.

 2. And thus, a blogger who isn't a Mommy shouldn't try to write about cleaning hints, coupons, recipes or anything "household" related. 

3. "Content is king" and you have to post often to keep up. If you don't, you slide quickly down the search engine rankings never to be found again.

4. Affiliate marketing is harder than those "become a successful affliliate marketer" websites lead you to believe. Eventually, you start to feel like you are standing on the street corner of the internet with a tin cup, but instead of begging for change, you are begging people to "click my affiliate ads." There is actually an unflattering name for this, which I will not repeat here because this is a G-rated blog.

5. R-rated blogs are more popular than G-rated blogs. But you can't put adsense ads on R-rated blogs. And it is hard to write an R-rated blog if you are a G-rated person.

6. If you have "drafty doublewide" in the name of your blog, no one will come to your blog looking for household hints or recipes.

7. They say that what you think on increases, and so writing a blog about "frugality" is not a great choice. Unless, of course, you are hoping to always be frugal.

8. Blogging can take up more of your time than you anticipated. I read one forum and a blogger there said it took him 20 minutes to write a post; it takes me longer than that. Researching a topic, and then writing the post can take hours if the post is fact-filled, and you search for reputable resources.

9. Blogging can be frustrating. After you've researched your topic, found reputable resources, and made sure your post is perfect, you may only get 3 pageviews in six months.

10. If you think you are a writer, rejection by people on the internet is quicker than rejection from publishers who send you a letter.

11. Blogging can be a learning experience. The pressure to post, and post regularly, is great for your self-discipline. You also get a taste of how the internet works - SEO, page layout, rankings, etc., and so blogging is a great experience if you want to get into an internet-related occupation.

12. There are some great bloggers in the blogosphere who are fun and entertaining, and I have enjoyed discovering their blogs.

And so,
party on...

Monday Motivation

We can all get stuck in a rut and start to feel like every day and every week is the "same ol', same ol'" but even a small change in your routine can increase your motivation level. Suddenly, there is something "new" -

  • Take a different route home from work and enjoy new scenery.
  • If you have a chore you normally do on Monday, try doing it on Tuesday instead.
  • Try an interesting food you've never tasted.
  • Add cream to your black coffee.
  • Change the radio station and listen to a different kind of music.
  • Wear your hair in a different style for a day.
  • Stop at a garden center and buy a new houseplant.
  • Visit a home improvement store and daydream about granite counters.
  • Eat breakfast foods for dinner.
  • Pass on the evening news and watch "Reba" reruns.
  • Pretend it is Friday and smile all day thinking about what you are going to do all weekend!

Have a happy, joy-filled, prosperous week!

Nescafe Memento Cappuccino Review

I received a free sample of Nescafe Memento Cappuccino and finally got around to trying it. I am a bit of a coffee purist and usually drink black coffee so I was saving my free sample as a "treat."

I read the instructions on the package and dumped the product into a large mug. It smelled great but looked like weird black pepper. I added the hot water and wow! The hot water released the wonderful aroma, and the coffee made foam. I stirred it around and the foamy top remained.
My Nescafe Memento Cappuccino had a strong coffee taste, which for a black coffee drinker was a plus! It was slightly, very slightly, sweet. And the foamy top was fun - for me, I can't say that the foam really added anything to the flavor, but it made my cup of coffee feel like a "treat."
Would I buy it for myself? Maybe. But, I am thinking about hinting around that I hope Santa puts some Nescafe Memento in my Christmas stocking!

Free Samples may still be available if you'd like to try Nescafe Memento -