We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Favorite Movies of 2011

We do love movies at our house and watch plenty.   Here are my favorites from 2011. . . .

Nacho Libre (2006 PG) - Typical Jack Black hilarity.  A silly movie about "Nacho" who was orphaned as a boy and grew up in the monastery where he now serves as the monastery cook.   He has always desired to be a famous wrestler, and begins secretly going out to wrestle in the local wrestling club where he hopes to win fame and fortune and the heart of his love (a very beautiful young nun who has recently arrived at the monastery).  Our whole family enjoyed this movie!

The King's Speech (2010 R) -  Has anyone not heard of this movie?  Story of King George VI who came suddenly and unexpectedly to the throne when his elder brother abdicated in order to marry Wallis Simpson.  This was particularly daunting for George as he had struggled with a severe stutter his entire life.  This movie chronicles him overcoming that stutter.  I love Helena Bonham Carter as his wife, Queen Elizabeth (that's the Queen Mom - current Queen Elizabeth II's mother). Rated R for language and LOTS of it, but within the context it is acceptable.  If you trust your older children not to repeat the bad language that was part of King George's therapy, it would be a great movie for them to watch.

Cold Comfort Farm (1995 PG) - 1930's England is the setting for this drama-comedy about a young woman who goes to stay on a family-owned "farm" (more like a boarding house) where she is the lead caretaker.  The Farm is inhabited by a cast of oddball characters which makes for a lot of craziness.  Based on a 1932 book by Stella Gibbons of the same name.  The cast is phenomenal: Kate Beckinsale, Ian McKellan, Joanna Lumley, Eileen Atkins, Stephen Fry, and loads more faces you'll recognize.  Older teens might enjoy this, but for some reason I seem to remember one scene of drug use (marijuana), but can't find it mentioned in any of the reviews, so maybe I mis-remember!

Stone of Destiny (2008 - PG) - Set in early 1950s.  True story of four young men who plot to steal the Scottish "Stone of Scone" from the British to return it to its rightful place in Scotland.  Funny story and great history.  Great family movie!  Kids should enjoy the excitement of the boys plotting to steal the stone.

Opa! (2005 - PG-13, very brief nudity and some language)  I'd let my kids watch this although I don't think they'd be all that interested.  The nudity is not in a sexual context (we see a man's tush as he jumps in the water to go swimming).  Stars Matthew Modine, whose acting is outshined by his co-star Agni Scott.  Story is about an archeologist  who comes to the Greek island of Patmos in search of a legendary artifact.  In the course of his search he meets and falls in love with a Greek young woman who runs a local eatery.  A sweet romance and comedy.

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002 - PG) - In the 1930s aboriginal children were systematically removed from their homes and placed in training schools all across Australia.  This is the story of two sisters and a cousin who escape from their school and head home on foot across the Outback.  Kenneth Brannagh stars.

The Syrian Bride (2004 - NR, but I'd say PG) - A family drama and a political one.  Thankfully the political didn't drown out the family.  This is the story of a Druze family on the Israeli side of the Israeli-Syrian border whose daughter is marrying a young man on the Syrian side.  Due to complicated politics, once she crosses the border to marry her new husband, she will never be able to return home to her family, so the marriage is very bittersweet.  Funny, sad, educational.

Serenity (but only if you've watched the Firefly TV series) - :)  If you watch Firefly, you get it...if not no amount of explanation can adequately describe.  If you haven't watched Firefly - DO!  It is still on Netflix streaming, I believe.

A Summer in Genoa (2008 - R) - Colin Firth stars in this movie about a newly widowed man and his two daughters who travel to Genoa for a summer.  The father has been asked to come work in the university.  While there they begin to heal after their mother's sudden death in a car crash.  A slow movie, so if that isn't something you can tolerate, this might not be the movie for you.

The Way Back (2010 - PG-13) - a group of WWII Siberian labor camp escapees attempt to reach freedom.  They travel through Siberia, Gobi Desert, and the Himalayas on foot.  Fantastic scenery.  Rated PG-13, but we would have no qualms about letting our 12 and 15 year old watch this.  One bit of raunchiness (men in the labor camp drawing nude pictures of women) at the very beginning and a very little bit of language, but other than that a very clean movie.

The Lion in Winter (2003 - Not Rated, made for TV, but definitely PG-13 for some brief nudity and one scene with frank sexual language) - Glen Close, Patrick Stewart - remake of 1968 movie which was based on the 1966 Broadway play) - A fictional story based on King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Set during a fictional Christmas Court during which King Henry is trying to determine who will succeed him.  Fantastic acting, as you'd expect from the stars.

Housewife, 49  (2006 - Not Rated, made for TV - PG just due to the subject matter) - a British movie set in WW2 England.  Follows a housewife from the start of the war to the end.  She begins working in a women's auxiliary (to support the war effort) which, over time, gives her confidence in herself.  True story based on a diary kept by the main character.

That Thing You Do (1996- PG) - Tom Hanks wrote, directed, and starred in this sweet movie about a group of young musicians who make it to the "big time" in the 1960's.  Great family movie!  Barely rated PG, in my opinion.  Erik and I had seen this before, but watched it again with our kids who loved it, too.

And the worst movies I've seen in 2011:  Frozen (I wasn't surprised this was bad because it didn't have good Netflix ratings, but thought it might at least be exciting.  Sadly, it wasn't even exciting... it was just stupidly BAD), followed closely by Greenberg (highly rated by the critics), which I thought had NO redeeming qualities.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nativity Carnival: Keeping Advent -- Dec 28th

Welcome to the Nativity Carnival: Keeping Advent

Each week, Advent through Epiphany, a new "Mr Linky" will be posted for you to share your Nativity Season-related ideas and thoughts from your blog.  (Just copy the link to your post and paste it into the Mr Linky box below.) 

Also, please add a link on your post back to this page, thanks!

We have been thoroughly enjoying a very relaxing Christmas season.  We've slept in, eaten plenty of leftovers, and enjoyed some games and movies.  There were a few traditions we've done without this year: some due to time, some to expenses, but regardless, the first four days of Christmas have been all that we needed.

I will admit one pang of guilt... we did not attend Christmas worship.  We'd so intended to!  However, some family commitments kept us long out of the house on Christmas Eve and by the time dinner was fixed, eaten and cleared, I was fairly wiped out and still looking at gifts to wrap and stockings to fill.  It makes me sad to say it, but I felt great relief when we made the family decision not to attend the midnight service.  As it was we were up until 1am.  (How thankful I am that my children are late sleepers, even on Christmas morning!  We were able to sleep until after 8.)

A blogging friend (whose blog has recently had a bit of attention after a long season of quiet...much understood quiet, but I've missed her!) sent a message out on Christmas Eve that I found so encouraging....it didn't assuage my guilt when I realized we were not going to attend worship, but as the season has rolled on, I've felt the graciousness of the words. . .
Kathleen Norris writes these lines for Christmas Eve and  I'd share it with my dear mother-friends who might be just as busy or more than me this Christmas Eve and tempted to disgruntled thoughts! She writes, 
"How is it possible to bridge the gap between our sorry reality and the glad, grateful recognition of the Incarnation as the mainstay of our faith? We might begin by acknowledging that if we have neglected the spiritual call of Advent for yet another year, and have allowed ourselves to become thoroughly frazzled by December 24, all is not lost. We are, in fact, in very good shape for Christmas.

It is precisely because we are weary, and poor in spirit, that God can touch us with hope. This is not an easy truth. It means that we accept our common lot, and take up our share of the cross. It means that we do not gloss over the evils we confront every day, both within ourselves and without. Our sacrifices may be great. But as the martyred archbishop of El Salvador, Oscar Romero, once said, it is only the poor and hungry, those who know they need someone on their behalf, who can celebrate Christmas."
I was truly poor in spirit and failing in strength that evening.  And while I didn't make it to a worship service that night (and due to the juggling required for sharing facilities we did not have worship on Christmas day) . . .  I feel we have celebrated Christmas as a wonderful feast:  a feast of much needed togetherness.  But I do look forward to worship this weekend!

How have you been celebrating this Christmas season?  And what are your plans for the rest of the 12 days...how about Epiphany?

If you are reading in a feed reader, please click through to the blog for the Mr. Linky posts! 

For those submitting links: 
So that others might enjoy the carnival, don't forget to add a link on your post back to this page, thanks!

Monday, December 26, 2011

 A Very Merry Christmas  ...

 ... from the Potter's Shed Gang ...

... with prayers for a prosperous, healthy 
and joy-filled 2012 ...

 ... and many years to come!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Eve Silliness

The tree is finally decorated!  We love to wait until very late.  In fact we always wait to decorate until our Christmas company has arrived - usually Christmas Eve or Christmas Eve Eve.  

The Tree all decorated, and photographed with a fun trick.  You like?

Farmor teaches Kalliope about the snow globe.

Artemesia is a meticulous ornament hanger.

Kalliope really was fascinated by the snow globe.

Erik helped Kalliope, who loved hanging ornaments this year.  Of course they were all placed on the same limb, so we had to move them around just a wee bit.

For a bit I sat like a queen and handed out ornaments.  Sadly, this didn't last for long.

I love this crazy photo of Artemisia!

I'm not sure why they were decorating Faramir, but he made a good tree.  See me losing steam in the background?


Our tree.  Simple . . . and we love it.

Artemisia is very good at delaying bedtime with silliness.  And her daddy falls for it!

Blessed Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Advent 2011

Our Holiday Season started off with Saint Nicholas' Feast Day on December 6th!  We had goodies in our shoes (left by the fireplace, of course) and breakfast of Gingerbread Waffles, sausage and our traditional Peppermint Hot Cocoa.

L LOVES those waffles!

Girls got new slippers, and we all got Santa hats.

Girls enjoying their St Nick chocolate coins.

Our former youth director, Dave, came to stay with us for a few days.  Although he lives in Canada now (he's originally from Canada), he was being ordained here in NC.   We had a great time with him and hosted a small reception the day after his ordination.  The youth kids were so happy to spend some time with him again!

We have seating for 26 in our downstairs rooms (dining, kitchen, family), but the kids opt for the FLOOR!  They had quite the pow-wow.

Our former Youth Pastor, Dave.
Our friend Donna said, "He looks so cute in the collar."  Does the elf hat increase the cuteness?


Our Christmas decorations have begun to slowly find their places.

Our creche scene on the kitchen mantle.

Farmor (Erik's mom) made us three models of buildings from
her homeland (Aland Island, Sweden).  This one is "Christiansund" their family home.

 I made this crochet garland and then hung some traditional Swedish straw ornaments.  There is something sweetly old-fashioned about the look of this garland. 

I love the look of REAL pine roping.  And I love the scent, too.  We wait until it goes on sale a bit, of course.  Had sweet little white twinkle lights hung with the pine garland, but 1/3 of the strand was burned out.  The entire metro area seems to be out of all lights (except pink ), so had to opt for the larger bulbs.  Not my favorite, but they'll do.

 On our little plant hanger out front, I hung a small lantern (super cheap at Lowe's) and wrapped it in greenery (not real, sadly), lights and ribbon.  Do you like the jingle bells?  I put some of the lights in the lantern.  Looks pretty cute all lit up!

 Fresh greens on the door, too!  I think this bow is much prettier in person.

Our Advent "wreath" on our little family altar.

 The Playmobil nativity set is back on the windowsill.  I'm not sure why or how it ended up here last year, but it seems to work.  The girls love to play with these little people.

E has been keeping track of our "Days 'til Christmas"!  Do you see the little "Louie" figurine she made (at a local paint-your-own-pottery store) peeking out from behind the chalkboard?

Our Saint Nicholas collection on the family room mantle.

Our "Julbock" - or Yule Goat.  A delightful remnant from Sweden's pagan Viking past, but we love it!


Today we took the whole family out to drop S at the ice skating rink.  The rest of us hit the Wal-Mart to do some grocery shopping.

H is very animated in the frozen food section.

 The girls are hamming it up, too!

 All checked out and ready to load up the car.

Waiting for "D Brubbie" (S) to finish up at the skate rink.

These two found some old civil war army men in the back of the van.

Only 6 more days until Christmas!  

Kings Mountain Daytrip

 On October 22nd we took three of the kids (H, E, and L) to the Kings Mountain National Military Park and State Park.  One of my family's ancestors was Robert Young, who is generally credited with firing the shot that killed Loyalist Major Ferguson (Revolutionary War).  We really came to enjoy the fall colors, so we didn't spend too long in the military museum. 

L enjoys the wide open space and the blue sky.


We really enjoyed the recreated farm at the State Park.  We could go into all the buildings and explore.

The outdoor kitchen.

The chickens were very happy to see us, but not so happy when we left and they hadn't gotten their dinner.

Isn't this just such a pretty setting?

Inside on of the barns.

Literally, watching the cows come home.

Time to go, everyone is tired, but happy.

L was pretty tired by this point.  She was barely hanging on to her good humor.

The girls and I.

H pondering nature.

Nativity Carnival: Keeping Advent -- Dec 18th

Welcome to the Nativity Carnival: Keeping Advent

Each week, Advent through Epiphany, a new "Mr Linky" will be posted for you to share your Nativity Season-related ideas and thoughts from your blog.  (Just copy the link to your post and paste it into the Mr Linky box below.)  NOTE: next week's link will probably posted on Tuesday.

Also, please add a link on your post back to this page, thanks!

My kitchen arrangement (hides the dishes in the sink) all decked out for
Advent (purple and silver additions).  I have Christmas additions ready to be added.

Christmas is only a week away!  I finally have all my gifts purchased, the house is modestly decorated, and I have purchased the ham for Christmas dinner, but that is about IT!

Faramir expressing his feelings about the frozen food section of Wal-Mart.
His face mirrors my feelings!
The tree is still sitting in three pieces waiting to be assembled, and I am PRAYING that all the lights work, because the entire metro area is completely OUT of lights.  Unless you want pink.  Or blue.

Our Saint Nicholas collection on the family room mantle.

Haven't done cards or even the photo to put on the cards...I'm afraid I'm going to have to do an "e-card" this year.  Which would be a step up from last year, but sadly won't be able to go to the many friends for whom we only have mailing addresses.  I keep tell myself that I do have until Jan 5th to get cards delivered, right?!?!

Found this cute little lantern for $5 at Lowe's.  Added the bow and jingle bells, then
stuffed the Christmas lights inside the lantern, too.   Sadly, no fresh pine garland here.

I still have friends' gifts to deliver (Fig Jam made from our fig tree), grocery shopping to do, and gifts to wrap.  And that doesn't include the fun stuff I want to do (go see lights, etc) or the cleaning we need to do for company.

Fresh pine garland - smells so good! We hung sweet little white lights in the garland
to begin with.  But 1/3 of the strand was out!  These were the ONLY white lights I could find.
They aren't wonderful, but they work!
But more importantly, my heart doesn't feel very prepared for Christmas which will be here regardless of my readiness, won't it?

The kitchen mantle: My crochet garland with traditional Swedish straw ornaments.
 I made one of these in white last year and love the way it looks on the tree. 

What was it the narrator of the "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" says?

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” 

And by all means it does.  Lord, help me live into that meaning this year!

If you are reading in a feed reader, please click through to the blog for the Mr. Linky posts! 

For those submitting links: 
So that others might enjoy the carnival, don't forget to add a link on your post back to this page, thanks!