Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to All!

Busy day today with the making of many pies this morning and then two divine services at the churches two hours away that Man of the House is temporarily serving. But before I ignore my computer for the next few days, I wanted to share this from Dr. Gene Edward Veith's blog debunking the myth that Christmas got its start as a spin-off of a pagan holiday.

Have a blessed Christmas, everyone, celebrating the One Who became flesh for us!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

May I Just Say Something, Please?

I have a rant to make on a piddly subject, but it grates on my nerves, so here goes.

When you buy someone something for Christmas, you GIVE it to him. You don't GIFT it to him, for Pete's sake. You are GIVING presents, not GIFTING them. The hideous Thomas Kinkade knock-off statuette that you dear mother-in-law presented you with last Christmas? She GAVE it to you; she did not GIFT it to you. The nifty-neato present you've got for your husband all wrapped beautifully and waiting under the tree? GIVE it to him; don't GIFT it. "Gift" is not a verb in this context. It's a noun~a NOUN, I tell you! The child genius who lives next door is gifted, as in he's been given a gift of extraordinary intelligence, but he's not being given as a gift. The lady at your church who sings like Renee Fleming is a gifted singer. She is gifted with an incredible voice, but she is not being given as a present. I know you can see the difference. You're intelligent. You're smart. Please stop the madness before I'm driven mad myself!

If we didn't already have a verb to denote the bestowing of something, then I would not complain. But we do, and it's a good verb; it's a fine verb; in fact, it's an exemplary verb. Please, give "GIVE" a chance.

All right. There. Humph. I feel better now that that's off my chest. Please resume your regularly scheduled holiday preparations. Ho ho ho!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

From My Commonplace Book~~Christmas Edition

"The interchange of presents was a very small ingredient in the older English festivity. Mr. Pickwick took a cod with him to Dingley Dell; the reformed Scrooge ordered a turkey for his clerk; lovers sent love gifts; toys and fruit were given to children. But the idea that not only all friends be even all acquaintances should give one another presents, or at least send one another cards, is quite modern and has been forced upon us by the shop-keepers."~~C.S. Lewis

"It is in the old Christmas carols, hymns, and traditions~~those which date from the Middle Ages~~that we find not only what makes Christmas poetic and soothing and stately, but first and foremest what makes Christmas exciting. The exciting quality of Christmas rests on an ancient and admitted paradox. It rests upon the paradox that the power and center of the whole universe may be found in some seemingly small matter, that the stars in their courses may move like a moving wheel around the neglected outhouse of an inn."~~G.K. Chesterton

"Savior of the Nations, come,
Show Yourself the virgin's son.
Marvel, heaven, wonder, earth,
That our God chose such a birth.

No man's pow'r of mind or blood
But the Spirit of our God
Made the Word of God be flesh,
Woman's offspring, pure and fresh.

Here a maid was found with child,
Virgin pure and undefiled.
In her virtues it was known
God had made her heart His throne.

Then stepped forth the Lord of all
From his pure and kingly hall;
God of God, becoming man,
His heroic course began.

God the Father was His source,
Back to God He ran His course.
Into hell His road went down,
Back then to His throne and crown.

Father's equal, You will win
Vict'ries for us over sin.
Might eternal, make us whole;
Heal our ills of flesh and soul.

From the manger newborn light
Sends a glory through the night.
Night cannot this light subdue,
Faith keeps springing ever new.

Glory to the Father sing,
Glory to the Son, our king,
Glory to the Spirit be
Now and through eternity."

St. Ambrose of Milan

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Auntie Leila's Linky Party

Auntie Leila of Like Mother, Like Daughter (one of my favorite blogs!) is having a linky party about kitchen sinks! I thought I'd join in and show you mine.

First is a picture of my kitchen sink area in its entirety:

It's a small room~~just 13' x 8'~~but I've decided I don't really mind because everything is only a step or two away. Leila has been talking about making the kitchen work for you instead of you working against it, and that's really quite easy to accomplish when the space is so small. In fact, reading her post about her kitchen made me laugh because our kitchen set-up is almost identical!

The windows up close:

I like to put these "gingerbread" Christmas decorations in the kitchen. Girl of the House made the paperbag gingerbread boy when she was four. Isn't he cute? The little red gingham bag was made by the director of the preschool where I used to teach and is over 20 years old. The felt ornaments were made by my grandmother, the one who lived to be 96. She gave them to Girl of the House a few years ago. Remember when sequined felt decorations were all the rage in the 70's? Grandma made oodles of them and have passed lots on to both my girls. Of course, those belonging to Girl Out of the House now reside with her. (You can see them here. A grammatical aside: Aren't you so glad she capitalized "is" in her title because ALL verbs are capitalized in titles, even when they are only two letters long? I'm so proud of her!) And don't you just love geraniums on window sills? I brought this one in from my front porch when the weather turned cold.

The curtains are just dish towels put up with clips and cafe rods. Very inexpensive and easy to care for. I just unclip them, wash and dry them, and hang them back up.

Notice the view? Yes, it is really that dismal. The house next door sits a mere six feet from ours; hence the blank white wall. That's why I try to keep pretty things on the windowsills. I have to have something to look at!

The little objects between the two windows are my British thimbles. My mother bought them all during her visits to Great Britain over the years. The first is of Clandon Park, then Victoria and Albert in silhouette, the Queen Mother sporting one of her famous hats, a Wedgwood thimble, and lastly a thimble from Windsor Castle. I'm sorry the picture isn't clearer. I miss Girl Out of the House for her photography skills!

The colors in this room were horrible when we moved in: olive green walls and floor and dark wood cabinets and paneling, which were not so bad in themselves, but this small room needed to be lightened up. So we painted the walls and cabinets a color just shy of white and leaning slightly to yellow and refinished the floor, stripping away ancient vinyl and even more ancient linoleum until we got to the original hardwood. We kept the gold counters. Much, much better now!

That's my contribution to the linky party. Be sure to visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more kitchen sink fun!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Decorations Part I

Last weekend we put up our tree and other decorations. Come along with me for a tour!

The center of anyone's Christmas decorations is the tree. Here's ours:

A few years ago my grandmother, who died in 2009 at the age of 96, gave me these "candles" from her own stash of Christmas decorations. This was long after she gave up elaborately decking her own halls. They are wooden and fit into tin holders. They are eight of them, and they are some of my favorite decorations!

My mother gave us our nativity set. I love the simple elegance of the gold trim on the ivory porcelain. It sits prominently on our living room mantle.

The Christmas village has all the most important establishments: a church, an Italian restaurant, a library, a theatre, a pub, a piano shop, a bakery, and a chocolate shop! We used to have a grand piano which was big enough to hold the whole shebang, but last January we traded it for a much smaller spinet. Alas, all the buildings would no longer fit. Here are a few on display this year:

I love having a banister I can do this to!

About ten or twelve years ago some dear friends gave us this copy of J.R.R. Tolkien's Letters from Father Christmas. They are actual letters that Tolkien wrote to his children in the guise of Father Christmas. The book has envelopes with facsimiles of the real letters inside relating the life and adventures of Father Christmas and the North Polar Bear and includes Tolkien's own illustrations. The thing that tickles me about this book is that even here he has included a battle with goblins! Tolkien seems unable to leave goblins out of anything, even Christmas stories!

I'll be back another day with more pictures of our festive Christmas house!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Because You Don't Have Enough to Do During This Busy Season

I offer the following links for you to peruse during your "spare" time in between shopping, decorating, wrapping, cooking, baking, and stressing.

Cogent commentary on homeschooling from World magazine

Free classical music downloads from Performance Today (I'll be the first to admit that I did not download the George Crumb pieces.)

If you think TSA officials violating the Fourth Amendment make you safer when you fly, read this.

I always appreciate Russell Moore. I've had similar experiences more than once.

How pagan Rome gave way to Christianity. They'll know we are Christians by our love, not by our political activism.

A thoughtful blog post from Andrew Kern on Obamacare and the sexual revolution.

And the coup de grace~~Top 20 Worst Nativity Sets. People, the medium in which you place your message matters! As Mammy from Gone with the Wind would say, "It ain't fittin'. I just ain't fittin."

No! No! No! It ain't fittin'!

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Thank you to Girl of the House for the new header. Isn't it festive?

We decorated the house for Christmas today, but I'm too pooped to take pictures. I'll post some soon, though, I promise!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pleasures of the Winter Kitchen

The calendar says it's the first day of December, and the weather agrees! On this first truly cold day there have even been snow flurries! Since we traveled for Thanksgiving (hence the long silence) we haven't decorated for Christmas yet. The big push will come this weekend, but in the meantime, I wanted to share with you my "Twelve Pleasures of the Winter Kitchen," based on Susan Hill's list in her delightful Through the Kitchen Window.

My list~~

Soups and stews bubbling in the slow cooker or in a big pot on the stove.

The kettle whistling for tea and hot chocolate.

Fruitcake hidden away, waiting for Christmas.

Pancakes with real maple syrup and butter for supper.

The geranium on the window sill that blooms because it doesn't realize it's cold out!

The bare tree in the distance silhouetted against the twilight sky while I cook dinner.

The extra warmth generated by the stove.

The aroma of bread, brownies, or cookies baking.

Cupboards and pantries full to overflowing with food stored in case of winter storms.

Warming hands in a sinkful of hot, soapy water.

Beans soaking overnight for baked beans the next day.

The gleam of firelight and candlelight on dishes as we eat dinner.

Though I enjoy cooking all year round, cooking in the winter is especially satisfying. I prefer cooking winter foods to summer foods, and it makes the house especially cozy when there are yummy things cooking that take a long time. What are some things you enjoy about your kitchen in winter?

Catching Up

Lake Michigan--gorgeous! It really has been two months since I last made a blog post!  This summer has been full of traveling, gardening...

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