Friday, December 28, 2012

I wrapped my final presents in the last few days. In recent years I have used magazines to wrap our gifts. I usually buy some festive ribbon, but this year I was eager to use my Christmas stamps and make tags.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

1st Christmas- ornament

We made a homemade ornament for Vivi's first Christmas. We mixed 2 cups of flour, 1cup of sea salt, and 1 cup of water.

Mix together.
Knead for 5 minutes.
Pick a size.
Wrestle a nine month old.
Distract her with the camera.

I used stamps to put her name and date.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas is almost here! This year we wanted to try our hand at canning. I remember my mom making apple butter and fig preserves when I was a kid. We both thought it would be a great gift for our neighbors and our mailman. We borrowed a friend's canner and it was the real deal. It was a little overwhelming, but Will tackled it and got the job done.

We bought 3-4 lbs of apples.

You cut the whole apple up core and all. and boil them until soft.

Puree and put the puree through a sieve.

Add your spices and let cook for 1-2 hours.

Place jars in boiling water and let them reach a certain temp.

Take them out and the tops will pop. Let them cool.

Decorate any way you like.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

We are hitting the road today to New Orleans which will hopefully be the end of the interview trail. Here are a few of the festivities of last week. We celebrated St. Nicholas Day her at the house last Thursday with shoes full of goodies. This past Sunday was my turn to host Sunday Monocle Monastic Movie Matinee. I chose White Christmas. I wanted to do anime Sunday with The Simpsons' Christmas (Santa's Little Helper) and Charlie Brown's Christmas. Unfortunately I was unable to get the Simpsons so I went for a classic that I had never seen. The treat that I made was really a bringing together of my favorite snacks. I made Rice Krispie Treats and poured peppermint almond bark over the top. It was good, but very rich.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A new tradition I started a few years ago was the hidden pickle. It is supposedly an old German custom. Someone hides the pickle, and whoever finds it gets an extra present. This year we decided to do a Sunday Monocle Monastic Movie Mattinee every week the whole month of December. The pickle-finder picks the movie and a treat that they want to share. Lindsay found the pickle so she got to pick the movie. She chose the pensive classic Scrooged, which most of us hadn't seen. We nestled into our den and watched Bill Murray while sipping peppermint milk shakes. It was delightful.

A pickle-finder like no other

Later that day we decorated the tree. This year we got a little edgy, mixing both white and colored lights (Mikey Hannon prefers the term "lights of color"). We blended all our ornaments for a perfectly decorated tree.

We also had some visitors. Edward and his brother Cory, our neighbors, stopped by to join us. Vivi thinks that Edward is the funniest.

May we present to you our 2012 Christmas tree: Uncle Moneybags

I have always loved Christmas. This time of year always brings fond memories with my family (not to mention delicious peppermint flavored coffee treats). Whether it was decorating the tree with my brother or baking with my mom we were together, collectively working and celebrating the season. As Will and I now shape our new family, I hope to carry on some of our established family traditions while weaving in some new traditions of our own.

I LOVE this book. Gertrud Mueller Nelson shares a variety of her family's traditions and rituals as they observe the Christian calendar. I read it for the first time a couple years ago, and now I pull it out several times a year. I have started reading about Advent again, trying to reconnect with the meaning of this time of year.
In the past several years I have grown fond of Advent and its representation of hope and life. Advent is a season of waiting. Nelson compares this time to being pregnant with life that is waiting to be birthed. She calls us to prepare our minds and body for the coming of Jesus.

My life to date has not contained many reflective moments around holidays, especially Christian ones that are mindlessly welcomed in and ushered out. As I have gotten older I want to be mindful of what it is I am really celebrating. This is tricky for me since I generally operate in two modes: sleeping and full throttle. When I get ready for Christmas, I make my lists and squeeze every last item in. Who cares if you get to enjoy the holiday? A completed list seems more important than the actual observation.

We have had our Christmas tree for a week and it is not decorated yet. This NEVER happens. My usual plan is to get the tree, decorate all at once, and collapse exhausted to admire the lights. This doesn't tend to lend itself to enjoyment. Since the whole house couldn't be around the afternoon we cut the tree, we are waiting to decorate the tree together. Thankfully all this waiting has allowed me to admire our evergreen and appreciate its beauty. I get to have this great tree in our home. It smells wonderful, and I love taking it in as I walk through the room several times a day. While waiting isn't easy, it has drawn the process out and made it more exciting.

This time of waiting is a great period to rediscover what I really believe to be true about Jesus. Who is this Jesus I am waiting for? What does he have to offer? With all the heartache in the world do I really believe that Jesus can/will make everything whole again? The excitement of what Jesus has to offer reminds me of being a child on Christmas morning. My eyes would pop open first thing. I would hop out of bed and race to the den to see what was under the tree. It is this childlike spirit that I wish to hold on to as the season progresses. 

"Waiting, because it will always be with us, can be made a work of art, and the season of Advent invites us to underscore and understand with a new patience that very feminine state of being, waiting." Gertrud Mueller Nelson

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Follow me in Merry Measure

Dreaming up new ideas is one of my favorite things about decorating for Christmas. When we were at the tree farm I got some of the leftover branches for decorations.  I love finding a second use for items that would be thrown away. I knew I wanted to make an Advent wreath, but I wasn't sure how I could incorporate the wood chips. Here is what I came up with. 


Happy decorating!