Why Not Make a Memory This Week???

Cindy2015Oh! Anybody else in holiday bliss this week?

We have changed the pace for the week. A nice welcomed break after a very, very productive season. This week, we are cutting back all of our life to just make sweet memories. What about you? Why not make a memory this week? Want to?

Here are a few ideas of things that might make your Christmas special while you make sweet, sweet memories. Ready? Let’s dig in…

* Make Christmas gifts and goody baskets… Christmas does not have to break your budget, especially if we will use some of those extra craft supplies around the house to make gifts or goody baskets. A big batch of cookies in a cute basket makes an adorable gift. Give it a try! Great gift…plus you make sweet memories along the way! [Read more…]

Unplug! by Cindy Rushton

Cindy2015We just got back from a fabulous trip to Italy. Ok, soak this in…VENICE! Oh! YEAH!

On this trip, I was able to check off three, yes three, of my biggies on “My Bucket List.” It was a spectacular trip! And, it was more than just the trip or the place, God was speaking to my heart the whole way. In fact, He is still teaching me lessons from Italy and we have been home a week! 🙂 Just today, He taught me another lesson as I opened my laptop! REALLY! Well, stick with me….

Before I left for Italy, I was on stress overload. I was hoping that Italy would be my “catch-up” time. Well, OBVIOUSLY I had never travelled abroad, much less to Italy. Ha! Italy was perfect for my stress overload. I was forced to getaway, refresh, renew, unplug, and make sweet memories. It was incredible. In fact, I am forever changed from my trip to Italy–more on that in a bit. [Read more…]

TEA-riffic Tips by Cindy Rushton

Cindy2015Ever wanted to give tea a try? Well, today, I want to help make it DOABLE. Actually I want to encourage you to make tea a tradition in your home. This is an excerpt from my book A CUP OF TEA (Now available as an eBook and HALF OFF–see details below!!). Let me take you by the hand and help you get started making memories over tea…

Sold!  Convinced! That settles it…you are ready to join the ranks of tea pals!  Only one problem is pounding away…you just do not have ANY idea of where to begin.  Beloved, this is EXACTLY why I have compiled this book.  You CAN begin right where you are.  If you need a little help, let me give you a few of my ideas and tips…

Be SIMPLE!

Tea does not have to be STUFFY!  Tea does not have to be FORMAL!  Use what you have on hand. Begin where you are.  You don’t have to be able to recite facts and trivia about tea and etiquette to DEVOUR the passion of tea.  Make your tea time a sweet tradition or ritual. It may be just afternoon tea after the little ones are tucked into bed for their afternoon nap. It may be a morning tea time (Oh, you CAN have coke in your cup while you take that morning quiet time!).  It might be a quiet moment before bed as you settle your mind.  It might be the whole family snuggled up with tea, cocoa, and goodies while you read aloud another chapter of the Bible and a chapter from a great read aloud!  Just bring tea home with YOUR very own style!

Build Your Very Own Collection of Tea Goodies!

You can find tea goodies just about anywhere! Take a look for the quaint goodies at yard sales, antique stores, auctions, flea markets, while traveling, at dime stores, gift shops, online…so on! Oh! You may want to take an inventory of what you already have tucked away in your cabinets. I am amazed at the little dishes, doilies, baskets, and other treasures that I had tucked away with no purpose in mind for them. Tea time is the perfect time to bring them out.  OH! And they do not have to match either! The most precious tea parties I have attended, whether formal or friend-to-friend, did not have one thing that “matched.” I am ever amazed at how each piece seemed perfectly “in place” and perfect for the occasion.

Begin a Tradition by Giving “Tea” Gifts!

Tea collectibles make perfect gifts for any occasion whether birthdays or holidays or just a little thank you. In fact, my favorite tea “goodies” have a sweet memory of dear friends!  You can give anything from teacups to teapots, from silver spoons to cookie cutters, from recipe books (with YOUR favorites already written inside!) to tea jewelry, so on!  My favorite way to give tea collectibles is to make a “Tea Basket” for those I love.  I fill it with goodies that they can keep AND goodies that they can eat/drink over their Tea Time!

NO Tea Room in Your Area? What About YOUR Home???

You are certain to have a perfect spot in your home for tea.  What about a drawing room? A living room? Your front porch? A gazebo? Your deck? The Garden? Fireside?  Outside by a big shade tree?  At the local park (for a Picnic Tea?)  Your bedroom? Your study? Around the kitchen table?

Get Your Little Ones Involved!

There is truly no greater place for children to learn the fine art of tea than at their mother’s knee.  From their toddling years, they can learn the etiquette and hospitality of tea as naturally as learning to eat.  If your children are like my children, they will develop a passion for the art of tea.

How can you encourage that passion?  Allow your children to help prepare for tea time.  They can help to prepare the tea (instructions included on page 43–ALSO FOUND HERE: CLICK HERE) They can help to prepare the dainties.  They can help to select the teacups and linens.  They can even help get the classical music going and to get the latest read aloud out.  The key is to use your very best for your children—they are your very BEST friends!   If it is hard for them to handle your great big teacups, then you may want to get a miniature tea set that is perfect for their little hands and tummies!

Don’t forget that tea is the perfect time to bring beauty into your home.  Share a great poem…a beautiful art print…a lesson on etiquette…or a chapter from your favorite read aloud!

A Tea Time Blessing
Unknown

Lord, grant that our times
Together be steeped in serenity,
Sweetened by sharing,
And surrounded by the warm
Fragrance of your love.
Amen

Want to grab a copy of my book, A CUP OF TEA? You will LOVE IT! It can be found here at this link: CLICK HERE! Use the Coupon Code: CELEBRATE to save 50%! Yes! If you want to grab other things, please feel free to use the Coupon Code for those as well and save BIG!

 

It is FALL! Try Cindy’s Yummy (and EASY) Fruit Tea!

The image “http://www.cindysdesktop.com/wp-content/uploads/Cookingwithmom.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.There are recipes that I have used over the years that I just use occasionally. Then, there are staples to our diet. Then, there are ADDICTIONS! ha! 

Ok…this is obviously an addiction, but a yummy one-if you ask me. We make this one in bulk and have it on hand year-round. It is a nice afternoon hot tea. A wonderfully refreshing mid-day iced tea. A wonderful treat at bedtime while you read aloud books to your little one. It is even perfect to carry in a thermos to the park or to a friend who is needing a mom-to-mom visit after birthing a baby, miscarrying, surgery, or just dire need of GIRL-TIME. Easy. Yummy. Give it a try!

What You Need:

2 quarts cranberry juice
1 (6 ounce) can frozen lemonade
3 pieces whole nutmeg
1 (46 ounce) can pineapple juice
2 cups apple juice
1 ½ tsp. ground ginger

What to Do:

Pour all juices in a crockpot or a big pan on the stove top.  Add spices in a cheesecloth. Simmer until you are ready to serve. Great hot or cold.

Let’s Make a Memory…Over Books! by Cindy Rushton

Cindy2015Hummm…was it the giggles the whole way through adventures with Pooh? My constant sobbing through every page of The Little Preacher? Our total addiction to every single page of Pilgrim’s Progress? The giggles and strategy as the children would run off to “play” every single bit of Daniel Boone’s life—with stiff warnings from Mom that NO ONE really got the hair-cut! Peeking outside to see the hard, hard work as forts were raised and mud pies “baked” for our beloved “soldier.” Oh, the precious, precious memories! Precious memories that are OURS forever!

Why not make it a priority to curl up as a family over the pages of a great book each day? Get the water going…pull out some nice snacks…settle down for tea (or hot cocoa!!)…and dig into great books! Game? But have no idea where to begin?? Come home with our family and get a picture of how easy AND awesome building a memory—over a great book—can be!

Decide a Good Time for Read Alouds…

Over the years, I have found that even though I LOVE great literature and believe passionately in the power of a great book to inspire us toward greatness, teach those facts in a palitable manner, and feed our hungry minds with great ideas, there has still been a constant battle with distractions from our beloved typical family reading time. Constant phone calls…friends dropping by…never the same day to day family life because of constant interruptions…the list could go on and on! I found that we needed a more consistent time to read, study, and cuddle. A time that was just ours!

The best time for this was at the end of our busy day. Our family reading tradition began years ago when my husband worked as a State Trooper. We found ourselves up until very late hours. Those last few hours before he came in seemed perfect. They were not likely to be times for calls, errands, or drop-by guests. They were the easiest to preserve for our special time whether we were on the road traveling or cuddling on our sofa or snuggled in my bed for a nice, long read aloud! Those moments were the perfect ones for our family. Now, since the children are almost grown up, the schedule is more complex than ever, and dad is now retired and running the family business the ONE constant that we all cry out for in the midst of busy or chaotic or even the most hum-drum day is our evening family read aloud and pow-wow time!

So, the first things to decide–what time would work best for your family? Look at your schedule? What time of the day is the most constant…the most uninterrupted…the easiest to settle down? Set that time aside—you have a treasure house of memories coming your way!

Bit-By-Bit…

Perhaps a set time is not the problem. Perhaps the greatest need is dealing with the struggles that make read-alouds an utter impossibility. An ideal! Certainly not a reality! You know…settling down the children…containing the messes long enough to finish one small part of a story…getting their interest? The habit that becomes a treasured tradition begins bit-by-bit! Here are a few ideas that may help:

* Get to know YOUR family and their interests. Each and every family is completely unique. What we love to read as a family, your family may not like at all! Our children may be completely different ages as yours. Our family preferences may be completely different than yours. In fact, our choices for read-alouds now that our children are at these ages are very different from the choices we made in the early years. The key to a sizzling read aloud program rests with getting to know YOUR family and their interests and then basing your choices upon where you are.

* Use a reading list! Have no idea which books to begin with? TOTALLY confused with all of the options? We have a couple of recommendations. First, we recommend our book The Never-ending Rushton Reading List (soon to be re-released in ebook format after being TOTALLY revamped–working on that now!). It is very reasonable, compact, simple, and easy to begin using today. It includes suggestions that are perfect for teaching every subject with great books AND it has a basic list of recommended read alouds that EVERY (smile!) family should read through! As they get older, another recommendation that we have is our book Inspiring Our Children Toward Greatness Using Great Literature (also, out of print right now–look for it to be re-released in ebook format very soon too! One powerful book!) which has an extended list of recommendations for life-transforming literature and great books that you won’t want to miss. You can also find great recommendations in other books, catalogs, and at your local library.

* Make it FUN! Reading need not resemble the drudgery from our school days. Rather, it can be a great big family party! We have a daily “tea time” with our read alouds. When the children were little, I found very soon that our children were much more attentive if their bellies were full and their hands busy. Being a “tea-time addict,” it was almost the “given” thing to do! This may seem a bit artificial to your family. Find what works. Some families settle down with snacks like our family. Others entertain the children with play-doh to keep their hands busy while mommy reads. Other families give their children sketch books to “draw” what they imagine while mommy reads the book. Just make it a FUN family time! You will be amazed at how much the children will learn while making a memory!

Choose the BEST! Great Literature!

The still, quiet spirit of our home was only the first part of this special family tradition! Great books were musts! My children love to read. We have a library just for them filled with books that they can choose during their free time. They cover a wide-range of studies just by using whole, living books full of ideas and great information. For our read alouds, I did not want a repeat of those books. Instead, I wanted life-changing literature. Because of this heartbeat, I am extremely selective to choose the very BEST books for this special time.

I have a very simple test for discerning if the books are life-changing. I ask myself, “If these were the last moments that I had with my children, would this be the book that I would want to be the LAST ONE?? Would this be the memory that I want for them to carry with them?” “Is this book capable of teaching those life-lessons that they need to carry them through life?” This limits my choices to those books that are absolute MUSTS for my children. Those books that all well-educated children should dine upon. Those books that feed the spirit…challenge the soul…and encourage us to keep on persevering through it all!

I have been amazed at the way the Lord has led us by His Spirit to each book that He has wanted for us to read as a family. From The Hiding Place to Basket of Flowers to The Elsie Series to Hedge of Thorns to Passion and Purity to great poetry to Christmas stories to a multitude of biographies…God has had specific direction for us right when we needed to know His next choice!

Once I know which book we will read next, I usually hunt for a nice, large print edition, if at all possible. These are wonderful for helping us take turns. My son used to be so intimidated by small print in books. The large print editions are easier for him to read comfortably from. They also make great texts for copywork lessons. I saw the advantage to the large print as we read from Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. There were so many wonderful quotes that I felt were important for the children to copy into their copybooks. While we read aloud, I simply marked them with a highlighter. On those mornings that the children were drawing blanks for copywork ideas, all they had to do was open that book to find a plethora of excellent choices! I found that to be helpful for my writing and speaking as well because I could easily find those great thoughts that had been planted in my mind while we read!

We usually take turns reading. This is the perfect way to help beginning readers ease into reading aloud for others. Their work can be so mundane if they practice with readers or insignificant reading lessons. A great book invites children to read with expression. When I would notice them tiring out, (you probably know that time because that is when they get REAL monotone…AKA boring!!) I would join in and read for a little while. That usually brightened up the pace so that when they would begin again, they would sound expressive and enthusiastic. Now, I absolutely LOVE to listen to them read aloud. It is neat to hear them stress those words that I would stress…or pause as I would pause! What a treasure!

Well, that is only part of the treasure! One thing that I love about this precious time with my children is that I find out just what they think, feel, and believe. We have tremendous discussions almost nightly about great ideas. I remember this being a goal for my children as they matured into adulthood. I never dreamed that I could have this blessing with little children! It is during these quaint moments of reading while sipping our tea, that I get a peek into their heart! I see their heart’s desires…their struggles in their character…the depths that God’s Word has worked in their lives…and their instant choices when faced with adversity (through the pages of the books). I can also help them trouble-shoot making decisions that may prevent them from irreparable errors later in their lives! Yes, those are the gifts that come with serving up great literature to our children.

Just This Easy…

Our daily read aloud time is just this easy. We don’t make it complicated by tests…by book reports…by written narrations on all we read. We are not even legalistic that our time be limited to books. We have been known to cuddle up with art prints JUST like we do our books. When we include art prints, we simply cuddle up to “listen” to the artist as he or she communicates through the canvas. My little ones have been known to sketch or paint the recent art print with their own style while I read a section from a great book. We also LOVE biographies, so we have enjoyed reading sketches about artists or the latest composer that we are getting to know! Each day, we use this time to also read through the Bible together as a family. This only takes minutes, yet the results have been overwhelming in our lives. Just a bit here and a bit there has helped to carry us into our world with a little bit more understanding about the worldviews of our culture! Not to mention, great art and music feed our minds with ideas that keep us growing into the vessels that God can really use in our culture!

Well, why not put on a little Classical Music in the background. Warm some water…EVEN if you prefer to use it for hot chocolate with fluffy marshmallows! 🙂 Dust off those poetry books or that book you keep putting off for another day. Curl up with your little ones…there is NOTHING quite like the memory that can be made over a great book!!

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