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

Monday, November 28, 2011

Daybook: Monday, Nov 28th

outside my window . . .  another gray day has broken.  But I think the gray will bring rain and a change in weather tomorrow - sunny and cool.  I'm ready for the chilly weather!  We had some in October, but November has been much warmer.  Nearly 80 degrees recently!

listening to . . . the train whistle in the far distance, tick tocking....and now "Curious George".  A little one just came to snuggle while I finish my morning preparations.

wearing . . . still in my pajamas!  But I'm planning to wear jeans, a black 3/4 sleeve top with a bright raspberry long sleeve top underneath...and a grey and pale raspberry scarf.

so grateful for . . . my grandmother coming to spend Thanksgiving with us!  I haven't had a REAL visit with her in years...just day trip visits.  I'm so thankful all my children have gotten to know her.

pondering . . . how to encourage Faramir to push on through the last bit of school work before Christmas break.  He's so ready to be DONE.

reading . . . Keeping House, On the Incarnation, still The Orthodox Church, and The Oresteia with my reading group.

thinking . . . about Christmas decorations...and Advent plans...and St. Nicholas Day, just around the corner!

on my iPod . . . loaded some new books:  War and Peace, Wicked, and In the Company of Cheerful Ladies

around the house . . . getting ready for more guests this weekend.  Missionary friends are staying with us while they visit our church.  Oh, and new curtains for the kitchen!  I'm hoping they'll help with the glare (it is a very sunny kitchen) and some noise reduction.

from the kitchen . . . maybe some batches of Spiced Pumpkin Bread for the freezer.

the church year in our home . . . the Advent wreath is up.  Today I'm going to print out some images for our little icon cards.  We plan on using Katherine's Jesse Tree devotions.

one of my favorite things . . . fresh cranberry relish!  I just love the sweet tartness of it.  Why do I only make it at Thanksgiving?

the week ahead . . . back to school for the kids, today Artemisia and I have to go check the lost and found for items she left at church yesterday, CC on Wednesday for the boys, missionary friends arrive Friday with a special dinner and dessert for them to share their work with our friends.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Nativity Carnival: Keeping Advent -- Nov 27th


Welcome to the Nativity Carnival: Keeping Advent

Each Sunday, 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!


The first Sunday of Advent, and a new liturgical year, is here!  It came in gray and slightly cool at our home...with a batch of cinnamon rolls to coax the kids from their beds and get them out the door in a pleasant mood.  It is always so hard to get up this first Sunday of Advent after the busy-ness of Thanksgiving.  And we only did a little Black Friday shopping!  (Hubby and I went to a few stores looking at rugs and curtains for our kitchen which desperately needs some noise absorbing textiles.  Didn't buy anything, but probably will this week.)

We said good-bye to our Thanksgiving company: my mom, step-dad, and grandmother on Saturday morning.  There were movies and playdates in the afternoon - and very tired kids last night.

This is the first Advent in a long time when we are not about to or have just recently gone through a major life change: in 2008 it was pending adoption travel, in 2009 it was a newly adopted baby, in 2010 a new home (and the flu)...and now...nothing.  Baby has been home for nearly 3 years...and we've been in our new home for a little over a year.  Wow - normalcy....will we know what to do with it?

If it is any indication, I actually have my Advent box emptied, the wreath assembled and some of my Advent books ready to be used as needed.   So, that bodes well!  You'd think someone who has lots of great ideas to share would be totally ready for Advent, right?   ** sigh **

I have managed to put together a menu plan.  Do you menu plan in advance?   I find it REALLY helpful!  Otherwise I wind up wandering around in my pantry, or worse the grocery store, trying to think of SOMETHING to have for dinner.  The trick, I think, is not being married to the menu plan, just dating it.  LOL!  Seriously, though, I just use it as a helpful tool...not at all written in stone.  You'll notice that I plan breakfast and lunches, too.  Since we are home all week together, I plan these meals for the kids.  Hubby and I tend to eat leftovers for our lunches rather than the "kid" food.

So, today, my contribution to the Nativity Carnival is my Menu plan for the Nativity Season.  If there are any recipes that you'd like me to share, just leave a comment!


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, November 21, 2011

Nativity Carnival: Keeping Advent -- Nov 20th

Welcome to the Nativity Carnival: Keeping Advent

Each Sunday, 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!

Christ the King Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Yesterday was Christ the King Sunday, also known as "Stir Up Sunday".

While I don't have any plans to make a Christmas Pudding, I thought perhaps a recipe that requires some good stirring, but could be made well ahead of Christmas might be in order.  So, I'd like to share with you a recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Bread.  I found this on Food.com, so I can take NO credit for it.  This also freezes up beautifully...and that is one thing I love to do this time of year, make easy sweet breads that can be frozen and then brought back out whenever we have company or I need to take a treat to share to a party, etc.  This would also make a nice baked good gift.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread
Makes 2 loaves.

3 c sugar
1 c vegetable oil
3 lg eggs
1 can or pumpkin (16 oz)
3 c all purpose flour
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c coarsely chopped nuts (recipe recommended walnuts, I've used pecans.  But I've also omitted these altogether.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour 2 9x5x3 loaf pans.  Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. (I didn't pull out my mixer for this, just used a spoon to mix energetically.)  Mix in eggs and pumpkin.  Sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and baking powder into another large bowl.  Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions.  Mix in nuts, if desired.  Divide batter equally between two prepared pans. Bake until knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Transfer pans to racks and cool 10 minutes.  Using a knife, gently release bread from side of pan.  Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.


Some feast days coming up in the next couple of weeks:

:-: Saint Clement's feast (November 23rd) - stock up and feast on clementine oranges!  (I wonder if that is why they got this name?  Anyone know?)  He's also the patron saint of blacksmiths and metal workers.  It is the day before Thanksgiving, so I'll be polishing silver.

:-: Saint Andrew's feast (November 30th) - Andrew is a patron of many localities and countries (Scotland, Greece, diocese of Constantinople, Germany), so you have your pick of foods to choose from.  Since we have Scottish roots, we'll probably have something from this tradition.  Might also make some felt "thistles" to pin to our lapels.

:-: And Saint Nicholas Day is only 2 weeks away (Dec 6th)!  Will you be celebrating?  This is a special feast day in our home!


***And finally, I want to point you to a lovely and simple Jesse Tree resource.  I love that these readings are only enough for us to have to do a few nights a week to keep up.  With four children, there was always someone going somewhere...or something coming up that kept us from staying caught up with other Jesse Tree readings.***


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!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nativity Carnival: Keeping Advent -- Nov 13th

Welcome to the Nativity Carnival: Keeping Advent

Each Sunday, 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!


Oh, my have I been grouchy this week.  Every day it seems I notice more and more Christmas decorations going up in grocery stores, department stores, and neighborhoods.  All I can think is, "We've still got eleven days before Thanksgiving, people!"  And in my book, even THAT is too early.  But two weeks before Christmas?  And some stores have been setting out holiday displays for nearly a month now!  It is hard to take.

Our Advent wreath from last year.  Very simple.  Glass taper holders on a cake stand with clear
and purple flat marbles and greenery.

However, did you know that some Christians are just about to begin their preparations for Christmas?  No?  Neither did I until recently.  But these Christians do it right...they actually FAST during Advent.  Imagine that...while the rest of the world "parties on" (with excesses of food, decorations, and activities), these Christians quietly prepare to receive the Incarnation, the Christ Child.  Who are these Christians?  The Eastern Orthodox.  Their Nativity Fast begins on Tuesday, November 15th.  Depending on the church (Greek, Russian, Antiochian, etc) some will fast very strictly (no meat, animal products, or oil) and others allow some animal products to varying degrees.  And even with these restrictions, practices vary based on personal abilities. (You Orthodox out there, please correct me if I get any of this wrong.)

Those of us in the west, particularly we Protestants, could learn a valuable lesson here.  I am finding more and more the truth in the vacuum theory.  Nature abhors a vacuum...and this is true in human nature as well.  When we remove something (fasting before feasting, in this case), our natural tendency is to fill it with something else and of course that would be more feasting!  Protestants (especially American Protestants), in their zeal to "de-Catholicize" their faith, have removed from their practices so many of the traditions of the Church that these vacuums are then filled with junk from the secular culture.  


Kalliope in the very dim light of our Advent devotions. 

God established His Church.  He led the Church Fathers to build a carefully balanced annual cycle of fasting and feasting, and we, in our modern attempts to "correct" those who've gone before, now have a very out-of-balance faith.  It makes you wonder how that has affected us spiritually. 

Advent offers us a chance to regain some of that balance.  I plan to take the time this year to prepare my heart and my home for the Christ Child.  How about you?

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!