Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Tree Tour

When we first moved into our little house over 14 years ago we didn't have much.  In fact, we brought the large green outdoor picnic table inside to serve as a dining room table. worked.  There wasn't a lot of money for extra things, many times even a box of ornaments seemed outside the budget, especially when I could certainly make some of my own.

I had a box scrap fabric including a a rather large collection of old fabric samples from my grandmother.  I remember as a child being fascinated by the little swatches that came in the mail - I enjoyed the feel of the different textures and picked out my favorite colors and patterns.

That first Christmas in our little house - remember sitting up in bed after our toddler, Hannah, was asleep and cutting and stitching a few ornaments each night.  I so enjoyed making them - and I was pleased that I wouldn't have to worry about them breaking or having sharp edges for little fingers.  That was when I had the idea to create a completely baby proof Christmas tree - there was not a thing on our tree that could break or would be harmful to a young child.  I have no more worries about little tiny fingers, but I still use those simple handmade ornaments every year...

Each year I would try add a new handmade ornament to the of my favorites are these woolly angels that I have also had for years - the wool sticks very easily to the needles - no hooks or hangers required.  Each year these angels are among the last touches to our tree.

Very soon, I had children who wanted to make ornaments too.  We made a bunch of these Angels last year for a Christmas Bizarre at our sister parish.  We kept a couple for our own tree.

This year we have some of the things leftover from our own attempt at a craft sale.  In total we made about $200 towards Katie's trip to Europe.   And we have some new ornaments for our tree!
Here is the tree this touches complete with new beeswax candles waiting to be lit after Mass this evening!
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Happy Distraction

There is one warning I would give to anyone who takes up the tradition of giving a Tree to the Birds - it is so very hard to pull yourself away from marveling at these lovely winged wonders.

You wait and watch, wondering who will land next...a chickadee, a titmouse...oh my goodness the goldfinches have found the tree!

You watch the comings and goings of the birds; the hopping from branch to branch.  You see the delighted faces of your children watching too.  The next item on the to-do list can wait a few moments longer - but trust me - it is time well spent.  If you don't believe me, just ask our cats!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I am very pleased with how the little striped booties are turning out except that they will be totally too big for the intended baby!  Oh well.  I may try to downsize the pattern.  We are just about to finish The Silver Donkey.  A wonderful story,  I don't know that I would recommend it for young children, but I would for ages over nine as a read aloud, maybe over age twelve for independent reading.  But do read it aloud - big ponderings come hand in hand with this one on courage, heroism, loyalty, and faithfulness. 

Merry Christmas to Ginny at Small Things and all the participants of the yarn along!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Nativity Scene

Aidan and I went to the thrift store together so I could drop off a donation.  And there they were.  Four figures from a Nativity set.  There was a kneeling Shepherd, a Wiseman seated on a camel, another kneeling Wiseman, and what was probably the St. Joseph figure.  I knew what was coming next.

"Mama, aren't they beautiful?  But oh look how expensive they are - this one is $50."

"Hmmm, Aidan, I think that says $.50, see the cents sign?"

"Wow, that's a bargain, can I get them Mama"?

I only wish you could have heard the inflection in his voice and seen the sincere thrill in his eyes upon finding this find of all finds.  I knew they were slightly larger than our set - but the coloring was similar. 

"OK, Aidan, Do you have $2"?


They were placed on the counter, carefully wrapped and brought home.  Now of course we needed to get our own set down from the attic.

The "stable" and empty manger are set up with only the cow.

The Shepherds tend their sheep in a grassy field.

Mary, Joseph, and the donkey rest by the Advent wreath until they begin to visit each room in the house before coming to the stable on Christmas Eve.

And now we have five Wisemen.  They have started to make their way over the sands and sea from far off places.  Now of course there is the story about the "Other Wise Man", also known as the fourth Wise Man.  Aidan and I are writing the tale of the Fifth Wise man.
And the Baby?  Well he is hidden away.  Every year, before the children open Christmas presents they look for Baby Jesus hidden somewhere on the Christmas tree.  All these years I have precariously placed him on a branch.  This year I made a sun burst felt pocket that can hold him and be hung more easily on the tree. 

Now, before Papa came home that evening the children and I made a friendly bet.  Would Papa notice two extra Wisemen, especially one sitting on an extra large camel?  Or that instead of only one Shepherd, now there were three?  All of us, except Katie, were sure Papa wouldn't notice. 

When Papa came home that night Katie pointed out, "We set up the Creche today, Daddy".   He looked around and commented on how nice everything looked.

"The Shepherds are over here," encouraged Katie.

"Mmhmm, very nice" smiled Papa.  By now suppressed giggles were beginning to escape.

"Look at the Wisemen over here, Papa," hinted Katie. 

"Yes, I see," said Papa.  More and more giggles. 

"What?" asked a very puzzled Papa.

"You didn't notice that there were FIVE Wisemen???"

And a family story is that I am sure will be recounted each year!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I am still knitting!  But I am currently without a camera - guess what's on my Christmas list?

After knitting well over a dozen of those cute little kittens, I started a pair of mittens for Aidan from a pattern in the same book.  Katie and I are also using a baby bootie pattern (also from the same book!) to make some baby booties to give away in honor of  the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe - which is coming up but not actually observed on December 12 because December 12th is the 3rd Sunday of Advent...BUT...there is a note that the feast may be celebrated the Saturday before or the Monday after...
you get the idea.  Our Lady of Guadalupe always gets me thinking about babies!   Speaking of babies...or THE Baby..I am reading an incredible book for Advent...a read very slowly because I don't want to miss a single thing kind-of-book...a will read again and again kind-of- book..
A simply amazing look at Jesus' time spent in Mary's womb.  I found a used a copy online - it is worth hunting for good price but $50???  Um no, don't spend that - if you have $50 for this book take at least half to donate to your local Crisis Pregnancy Center and find the book for $25 or less including shipping.

I also wanted to share that I took my knitting bag and a little library book I had picked up, The Christmas Tree by Julie Salamon to keep myself busy while my daughter was piping with her Pipe and Drum band last night. I have to say - I will never leave the house with any kind of Christmas story without a wad of tissues - ever again.   Do you know how hard it was for me not to start bawling in public while reading this book?  Hard.  I didn't quite bawl but let's just say the tears did gently and quietly roll down my cheek and I was slightly more snuffly than even my current cold would explain.

I hope I can beg, borrow, or steal a camera by next Wednesday!

But I will be sure to enjoy everyone else's pictures at Small Things and this weeks yarn along.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Week Daybook

Outside my back door window.....I can just see our young chickens who are big enough to be out and about now.  Aidan helped Papa fix up the old chicken run for them.  He turned to Ed and said "Papa, I want our chickens to be happy."

I am thinking about the wonder of these words that were said as part of the The Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens  this past Sunday -

Receive the sign of the cross on your forehead.
It is Christ himself who now strengthens you with this sign of his love. Learn to know and follow him.
Receive the sign of the cross on your ears, that you may hear the voice of the Lord.
Receive the sign of the cross on your eyes,that you may see the glory of God.
Receive the sign of the cross on your lips, that you may respond to the word of God.
Receive the sign of the cross over your heart, that Christ may dwell there by faith.
Receive the sign of the cross on your shoulders, that you may bear the gentle yoke of Christ.
Receive the sign of the cross on your hands, that Christ may be known in the work which you do.
Receive the sign of the cross on your feet, that you may walk in the way of Christ.

I am thankful many things but I have been thinking lately of all the things I do appreciate about our parish - it is all too easy to see the things one doesn't like or would like to see change...but what a gift to count the blessings.

From the learning rooms....Thanksgiving fun this week...and we'll be happy to have Papa home with us for a few extra days.

I am wearing...a black corduroy skirt that is now covered with every bit of fuzz from the house. 

I am creating....order out of last week's crafting chaos.  Was it worth it? comment.  Here's a few pics of my table -

My table

Felted mice and knitted kittens

Rose hip elf

Wax and Beeswax Ornaments

Current read aloud....still reading "Princess and the Goblin" but I wanted to share this from Chapter 12

"Mrs. Peterson was such a nice good mother!  All mothers are nice and good more or less, but Mrs. Peterson was nice and good all more and no less.  She made and kept a little heaven in that poor cottage on the high hillside - for her husband and son to go home to out of the low and rather deary earth in which they worked.  I doubt if the princess was very much happier even in the arms of her huge great-grandmother than Peter and Curdie were in the arms of Mrs. Peterson.  True, her hands were hard and chapped and large, but it was with work for them; and therefore, in the sight of the angels, her hands were so much the more beautiful."

I am hoping...the little maple leaf butter pats we made for Thanksgiving will come out of their molds easily.

I am listening to.....a froggy, throaty sounding voice coming from older son.  Oh dear.

One of my favorite things....The Splendid Table

Around the house.... fixing up the Festival Table for Thanksgiving.

Living the liturgical year....Viva Christos Rey!  

One more picture to share....

It's a big world out there!

Add your Daybook at The Simple Woman's Daybook

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hannah and Katie both sing in the Children's Choir of Sussex County.  Here is a video of one of the songs they performed as part of the Lord & Taylor "Share the Joy" event.  It was actually really amazing - Lord & Taylor commisioned a piece by Fransico Nunez and Jim Papoulis especially for this event, the song "Share the Joy" was sung by at least 40 choirs at their stores this past Monday evening. 

You can see more choirs at the Lord & Taylor website.

Above the girls' Concert Choir is singing "Living in a Holy City".  On the Lord & Taylor website they have this video labeled with a different choir but that's our choir!
{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all at SouleMama.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Thanksgiving Tea

Last year at about this time our very loosely formed "Keeper's At Home" group had a Thanksgiving Tea.  I made up a song booklet and everyone brought a dessert to share.  The brothers of the girls were also invited and we had one very talented friend who could accompany us on the piano.  I found a copy of the song booklet and thought I would share some of the songs we sang together last year.  Our group hasn't been meeting this year - and I do miss this gathering of friends.

Simple Gifts (this video is amazing!)

Servant Song

All Who Hunger, Gather Gladly

All who hunger, gather gladly, holy manna is our bread.
Come from wilderness and wandering.
Here in truth, we will be fed.
You that yearn for days of fullness, all around us is our food.
Taste and see the grace eternal.  Taste and see the God is good.

All who hunger, never strangers; seeker, be a welcome guest.
Come from restlessness and roaming.
Here in joy we keep the feast.
We that once were lost and scattered, in communion as love have stood.
Taste and see the grace eternal.  Taste and see that God is good.

All who hunger, sing together, Jesus Christ is living bread.
Come from loneliness and longing.
Here, in peace, we have been led.
Blest are those who from this table live their lives in gratitude.
Taste and see the grace eternal. Taste and see that God is good.

Over the River and Through the Woods

For the Beauty of the Earth
We Gather Together

When I First Came to this Land

Let All Things Now Living

America the Beautiful

More Thanksgiving hymns here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A November Daybook

Outside my is a grey Monday morning.

I am thinking....about tuning up our daily schedule to better fit the fall/winter chores in - raking leaves, gathering kindling, bringing in wood, etc..

I am thankful for....a parish community that sings..even when there is no one to play the music.

From the learning rooms....back to some form drawing this week to help my 11 year old son with his allergy to writing.  We're using "The Write Appoach" - Book 1,  form drawing for better handwriting by Joen Gladich and Paula A. Sassi.

From the seasonal kitchen....Ed found a farm in New York that may be our new source for meat products.  The farm is not organic but they had all the right anwsers to Ed's questions.  He brought home some samples for us to try - a little bacon, some sausage.

I am jammies, still...we are all a little slow on Monday mornings.

I am creating...chaos in our house by being too much in handwork mode.....over the weekend we made beeswax ornaments - angels and hearts.  The craft fair is this Saturday, I hope we have enough little items by then to make a good showing.

Current read aloud with the boys...we continue with "The Princess  and the Goblin".  Princess Irene and Curdie the miner's son have met.  Curdie has also stumbled across a possible plot that could threaten the Princess!  And....Curdie has also discovered that goblins have no toes and very tender feet....

I am hoping....the girls sing well this afternoon with their choir.  From their website:

•Concert Choir has been invited to perform a newly commissioned piece by New York composer, Jim Papoulis at the Lord & Taylor store in the Rockaway Mall. As part of the store’s celebration, The Gift of Sharing, selected children’s choirs will be performing this piece on November 15 at Lord & Taylor stores throughout the United States. The concert is at 5 pm.

I am hearing...very strange noises... from the pipes? from the refrigerator?  Ed and I are not quite sure...

One of my favorite things...a full wood hoop.

Around the house...well, right now as I mentioned above...a bit too much chaos.

Living the liturgical year....we are still enjoying the stories from one of my favorite books on the saints..."Saints....Adventures in Courage" by Mary O'Neill, illustrated by Alex Ross.  This volume includes both St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Elizabeth of Hungary whose memorials are this week.

A picture to of the illustrations from the book above.  Why are all my favorite books out of print?  This is St. Colman from Ireland, he has the most serene look on his face - just beautiful.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Quick tabletop luminaries for Martinmas

These photos won't be the greatest quality, hubby took the last functioning camera in the house so I took some quick shots from my phone.

We had pressed some leaves for an going botany study with the two boys.  

First the boys took our collected leaves and sorted them by shape.  Above is some of the leftovers we had after the boys picked the leaves they wanted for the luminaries.  We had two varieties of oak, beech, three varieties of maple, aspen, tulip leaves and a few others that remain a mystery.  Christian matched the leaves using Trees Fandex Family Field Guide.  

I took some old flannel fabric to protect my ironing board and set out a sheet of wax paper.  The boys arranged their chosen leaves on the wax paper.

Another sheet of wax paper of the same length is placed on top of the leaves.  I placed another cloth over the wax paper and then ironed.  Aidan enjoyed helping with this task although he was disappointed that we didn't use the steam.  I used the highest setting with the steam option shut off.  I love the little wrinkles in the wax paper after ironing the layers together.   Don't worry about getting a totally smooth surface -  the wrinkles add a nice texture.

Trim the edges, bend the wax paper into a cylinder shape and glue the seam by overlapping the ends by about an inch.  I gathered a few things to put a small tealight candle on and fitted each luminary to the plate - we had two terra cotta pot saucers and then I used a couple of old teacup saucers.  I like the luminary that fits on the inside of the terra cotta saucer best - next time I would trim and glue the luminaries to fit that size.

With the recent time is so early....these bring a bit of cheer and beauty.

Hosted by Ginny at Small Things

One of the items Katie and I are stitching for an upcoming craft fair is kittens!  But this mama cat and her babies are destined for California as a present for my niece.  I am just deciding whether to put faces on them or not.  I think they are sweet just as they are.

The pattern I am using is from The Children's Year.  I was given this book by neighbor when my oldest was just about 15 months old.  It has inspired me to create many things for my children over the years.  The link shows a book that looks a little different than mine but hopefully the content is similar.

The book I am reading in my sparse spare moments is Aurlia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet.  I actually think it has turned out to be the perfect book for this time of year when the splendor of October colors has faded to the browns and greys of November.  I am not too far along but it is an enjoyable read.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

My first daybook!

Outside my is a clear crisp November afternoon.  I think the days have past when a small fire in the woodstove in the morning will suffice.  Time to keep the wood hoop filled and have plenty of kindling on hand.

I am thinking...about our nation's Veterans.  Our Columbiette group had a small ceremony to place flags for the Veterans from the families of our parish.  So beautiful seeing all those flags lining the drive to the church.

I am thankful for...our parish priest, Fr. Wayne.  He enters the hospital this Tuesday and will have a heart valve replacement on Wednesday.  Please pray for him and his recovery.  It would be wonderful if he were back with us by Christmas.

From the learning rooms..we'll be picking up vinegar to start a biology lab this week.

From the seasonal kitchen...a rediscovered favorite.  I used to make vegetable pancakes quite often years ago.  Not sure why I ever stopped.  While holding a head of red cabbage last week - I remembered them.  I have used our Sunday's at the Moosewood Restaurant cookbook so much it is in pieces and tatters.  The page that feature the pancake recipe was of course, missing.  Thankfully, I found the recipe online.

I am wearing...comfy knit shirt and brown pants.

I am creating...lots of little items for a craft fair coming up on November 20th.  It will be my first time selling my handwork.  This is my small effort to both declutter the craft supplies and help my daughter earn some spending money for a trip to England and France with her youth orchestra this summer.

Current read aloud with the boys...a favorite....The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald.  We have a beautiful copy of this book illustrated by Nick Walton.

I am hoping...for some sunshine this week.

I am 14 year old daughter sing along with Pandora.

Around the house...clothes sorting...this is the latest in the year that I have taken on the task of getting the warm winter things down from the attic.

One of my favorite things...homemade hot cocoa

Living the liturgical year.....still working on prayer angels for the month of All Souls.  We'll be making leaf lanterns for Martinmas later this week.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing....

Our gracious host....The Simple Woman's Daybook

Friday, November 05, 2010

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Visit SouleMama for more moments.

Monday, November 01, 2010

All Saint's Day

I always think of this song on All Saint's Day.....


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Fun!

Who needs haunted houses when you have a dad who calls his 14 year old daughter to the door and scares the life out her with this beast...

This is a beautiful 15lb striped bass that Ed brought home for dinner.  It is not so beautiful when you don't expect to find its gaping mouth greeting you at the door.

Here is as about as gruesome as we get on Halloween -

The stomach contents of the bass. 
 We were all pretty amazed at how many little sand eels this fish ate! 

We are usually much more into cute on Halloween.....

I really hated to admit it but Aidan was a very cute Wizard and he will not be happy that I said so!

Our handsome Robin Hood. 

The ever adventurous Pipi Longstocking.

A mischievous cat. 

 There was a great debate over who was cuter - Hannah or Mewster.   Mewster is the perfect looking Halloween cat who needs no costume.

The original mischievous cat!

Thanks to a well stocked dress up box and bits and pieces from Halloween's past - the only thing we bought new this year was a black shirt for Hannah's cat.  We were also grateful for the loan of the Wizard hat.

Halloween 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New baby chicks! 

We've been pretty busy.  Life is full of comings and goings so it seems a little crazy to bring keeping chickens back into the mix of daily life.  But when the girls were younger they had the experience of marveling at wee baby chicks and I wanted that experience for Christian and Aidan too. 

Isn't she sweet? 

It was just wonderful to get the call from Ed that the post office had called his cell phone to let us know that the chicks had arrived.  The boys and I eagerly jumped in the car and took the drive to the post office.  We were all smiles as we asked about the "peeping package" that was waiting for us.

The boys are so gentle with the chicks and the older girls are of course delighted with them too.  We initially had them set up in the house with a heat lamp where we could keep an eye on them.  Out of the 25 chicks only one did not do well and had died within a day or two.  But happily all the others look well and are already feathering out nicely.

What began as the sweet trilling sound of baby birds soon became much louder - especially at night - with the flapping of wings and very loud chirping!  They have now been moved to a bigger bin with hay in the outdoor shed.  They still  have their heat lamp and seem quite cozy.  It won't be too long before they are moved to the coop. 

The boys will be responsible for the bulk of their care - Aidan and I go up together in the morning to add or change the hay, change their water and give them fresh food.  Christian goes up in the evening to give them fresh food and water.  The boys are excited and willing to do their tasks right now - we'll see what happens when the temperatures start dropping!

We are looking forward to our own fresh eggs again this Spring!

Friday, September 24, 2010

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.