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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Survey of 2009

2009 Survey for the New Year

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
Adopted a child. Traveled to Africa. Was away from my children for more than 2 1/2 weeks.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I kept some resolutions and not others. It is just not New Year's without a resolution or ten.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth or get pregnant?
Our adoption is in many ways like giving birth, so, yes.

4. Did anyone close to you get married?

5. Did anyone close to you die?
yes. A dear man from church whose presence is sorely missed.

6. Travel?
Ghana, West Africa!

7. Did you move anywhere?
No, but we hope to before 2009 is over.

8. What was the best month?
April - we were all home together for a whole month. I'd finally made it home from Ghana. Hubby was on paternity leave and the kids were done with school. It was AWESOME!

9. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
Acreage. Humility. I wish humility was as easy to procure as acreage.

10. What date(s) from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 21st - finding out we'd passed court the day before. January 24th - surprise baby shower. February 4th - we left for Ghana. February 5th - we met Baby L. March 21st - I was reunited with my kids after 6+ weeks and with hubby after 2. May 14th - Eldest son turning 13 and his Intro to Manhood weekend. Aug 26 - my 39th birthday

11. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Flying home solo with Baby L - who didn't sleep more than 20-30 minutes during our 20-some hours of travel. I get nervous traveling with hubby...this time I was entirely alone with baby and all that immigration to deal with. I was a little anxious about it, but it went fine. There were a number of God-sent helpers along the way.

12. What was your biggest failure?
Failing to be proactive to protect my middle daughter from the stress of having a new baby sister who gets LOTS of attention from strangers and friends. She seemed to be doing so well and then suddenly felt entirely overlooked. I'm trying to change that as best I can, or at least provide some sort of counterbalance.

13. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing major - just the run-of-the-mill cold, flu, etc.

14. What was the best thing you bought?
2 yards of batik cloth from Ghana - it was quite inexpensive and made the most perfect baby wrap.

15. Whose behavior merited celebration?
All my kids - great helps to us with the new baby!

16. Whose behavior made you appalled and/or depressed?
appalled - politicians. depressed - our church vestry

17. Where did most of your money go?
adoption (fees and travel)

18. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Baby L!

19. What song will always remind you of 2009?
"Some Kind of African Beauty"

20. Compared to this time last year, are you: i. happier or sadder? ii. richer or poorer?

i. happier in some ways; sadder in others. My parents divorce is final - that makes me sad. Baby L is doing so well and we love her so much - that makes me happy. My dear neighbor has moved - that makes me sad and happy (sad: we miss them, happy: they've got an awesome property).

ii. Easily poorer. However, we are making headway in paying off adoption debt and we are doing (rather I am doing) much better on our cash budget.

21. What do you wish you'd done more of?

22. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Blog reading. (can you believe I'd say that? I do enjoy writing a blog and reading a few, but I get sucked into my GoogleReader far to easily)

23. How will you be spending New Year's Eve/Day?
No idea. Would love to have some friends over for family games and such - or go somewhere...but don't know it that will happen. If not, hubby and I will enjoy champagne and maybe some episodes of Bleak House. New Year's Day - I'm making Hoppin' John and doing some school planning.

24. What was an unexpected surprise?
Getting Baby L's Certificate of Citizenship weeks after we returned home (without the expected extra paperwork).

25. Did you fall in love in 2009?
with Baby L - totally.

26. What was the best concert you've been to this year?
I'm not really a concert-goer these days - but we did go to see The Messiah, and it was wonderful.

27. What was your favorite TV program?
House and M*A*S*H reruns.

28. Do you dislike anyone now that you didn't dislike this time last year?
Yes, unfortunately. That's all I'm saying.

29. What was the best book you read?
The Good Earth. I really loved this book.

30. What was your greatest musical discovery?
African "High Life" music

31. What did you want and get?
an iPod Nano.

32. What did you want and not get?
an iPod Nano with a radio (the new one with the radio came out about a month after I got mine for my birthday. Oh, well!)

33. What was your favorite film of this year?
The Visitor. There have been a few others, but this is the one that popped into my mind.

34. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 39 - my last year in my 30s! Hubby took me out for an early morning coffee date in our sporty '69 Datsun convertible. It was a Perfect Start to my 40th year.

35. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Not losing large portions of data and pictures in a computer crash.

36. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Layered and slightly bohemian, I guess.

37. What kept you sane?
Being able to get mini-escapes to the coffee house with hubby or alone.

38. What political issue stirred you the most?
Health care bill. Obama's messiah-esque persona.

39. Who did you miss?
My Dear Neighbor!

40. Random Memories from 2009?
~ A frantic target trip to get baby supplies the day after our adoption was finalized.
~ Discovering coconut water as a rehydration drink.
~ The guy who carried my luggage off the airplane and all the way to baggage claim.
~ Middle daughter getting a shortish haircut and earrings. First rides around the neighborhood in the Datsun.
~ The hummingbird that got caught in our garage and our attempt to coax him out.
~ Middle daughter lining up 4 cheerios from largest to smallest each morning (representing our soon-to-be family of 4 kids).
~ Boys stacking dixie cups up into a "great wall".

I borrowed this survey from The Common Room.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Daybook - Tuesday, Dec 29th

outside my window . . . the sun gives an orange cast to the tops of the trees while the trunks are still in shadow. The sun will be up and bright soon. 25 degrees - c-c-c-c-old!

in the kitchen . . . Finally tried the "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" recipe and LOVE it. The bread is heavenly! It is so good I'm considering giving my breadmaker away. (well, not really)

around the house . . . Farmor (hubby's mom - that is swedish for Father's Mother) has finally arrived to celebrate Christmas! She lives in Virginia and got snowed in. It is fun to have the celebration continue!

on my iPod . . . Brothers Karamazov

from our studies . . . nothing this week - we are still enjoying our Christmas break. I do need to look over my plans for next semester and gather books, etc.

thinking about . . . 20+ acres, 1900s house, pond, and a 2 huge barns


listening to. . . my silly cat subduing a stray corn cob holder on the tile floor. (Why is a corn cob holder on the floor? Don't ask, I don't know!)

thankful for. . . hubby who has rescued my temperamental computer once again.

pondering the words . . . "For the real audacity of hope in politics is to know that our fondest hopes will not be realized through politics. Indeed, if our fondest hopes are such that they can be realized by politics, then our hope is a disordered hope."
First Things, March 2009 (somehow I missed this one - I was in Ghana when it came - so, I'm finally catching up on it).

reading . . . finally pulled the plastic off December's First Things. I'm planning a sneak-away coffee hour sometime this week to soak up some of the articles.

creating . . . a plan for getting our house ready for market


one of my favorite things . . . the old-fashioned looking knit stockings we purchased years ago from "Big Lots". The kids have their own, but these knit ones are for the adults. My mom even embroidered our names on them for us, so each adult has their own stocking.

milestones in the past week . . . Baby L had her first Christmas - at least her first with us. (I've no idea if there was a Christmas celebration where she was last year.) She really seemed to "get" the gift-opening process.

a few plans for the upcoming week . . . Today we hope to go back out to a property we are interested in (that'd be the 20+ acres). Middle son has a sleepover birthday party Wednesday. Hubby has some work to do on his non-profit organization before Thursday. I've got second semester planning to do. And of course New Year's Eve and Day are at the end of the week - no real plans for those, but we'll enjoy some champagne I suspect.

Enjoy more Daybooks at Peggy’s!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Yesterday, we went up into the NC mountains to enjoy Christmas Eve at Biltmore House. If you ever get a chance to visit Biltmore, do!

There was still quite a bit of snow from the snowstorm that dumped feet on the east coast last week which gave the day a truly "Winter Wonderland" feel. We had a wonderful time and decided it was a really good way to spend Christmas Eve. It kept kids occupied and tired them out nicely. I highly recommend it!

There are many Christmas trees at Biltmore, but this is the Biggest - easily 2 stories high!

We all hope you are enjoying a really blessed Christmas today!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Daybook - Monday, Dec 21st

outside my window . . . the sky is just slightly orange over the tops of the houses, fading to a clean, pale blue. A slight coating of frost is on the grass and the puddles from this weekend's "storm" (we got nary a flake) are edged in ice.

in the kitchen . . . Christmas cookie decorating today and my favorite Christmas bread tomorrow, Santa Lucia Bread. (scroll down for the recipe)

around the house . . . the decorations are up and lovely. All that is left are the tree ornaments and the Christmas Pyramid, both which will make their appearance on Christmas Eve. Today the Christmas dishes will come out and replace our everyday dishes.

from our studies . . . finishing up A Christmas Carol and enjoying some other Christmas stories.

thinking about . . . whether or not my mother-in-law will be able to make it out of her driveway. She lives south of DC in Virginia and got well over a foot of snow. Living at the end of a mile-long, gravel drive deep in the woods makes it hard for her to get out when she's been snowed in.


listening to. . . NPR's Morning Edition.

thankful for. . . Our Supper Club group. Our Supper Club has been together for quite a few years (some of us close to 7 years), and the friendships are dear between the adults and the children.

reading . . . my newest editions of First Things and Southern Living. Somehow that little reading list sums me up.

creating . . . just finished up 4 gift memory albums (digital) for Christmas and I'm now working on our family's annual album. Need to finish up another strand of crochet snowball garland.


to foster rhythm and beauty . . . we spent the weekend digging through the Christmas decorations and getting the house all lovely for this week. On Christmas Eve, we'll let Christmas really blossom with our festive Christmas Pyramid and all the tree decorations.

to educate faithfully . . . part of a good education is having time off to let all that learning soak in. We are enjoying a week of well-earned time off!


one of my favorite things . . . My "Twelve Days of Christmas" mugs. They are waiting patiently in the cabinet for Christmas day to be here!

a few plans for the upcoming week . . . Today: my mother should arrive. Tuesday: all last minute shopping and mother-in-law should arrive. Wednesday: off for a day trip to Biltmore (our family gift). Thursday: Christmas Eve dinner, service, and hopefully, glogg-making. Friday: Merry Christmas!

a picture thought I'm sharing . . .

Baby L enjoying her new favorite treat: a candy cane!

** Updated to add links to Santa Lucia recipe and info on Christmas Pyramids.**

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In the early morning light . . .

In the early morning light, our little Sankta Lucia made her rounds. No Lucia buns this year (maybe in time for Christmas morning), instead we had iced orange rolls (you know, right out of the Pillsbury tube).

Here she is:

Daddy is up early in his office working, so he's the only one not served in bed:

Serving big brothers in bed:

Then when everyone came down for seconds, we enjoyed this traditional and authentic Sankta Lucia:

Monday, December 14, 2009

For the Feast of St John of the Cross

No time for more than a quick post, but I thought I'd share some quotes from his spiritual classic: The Dark Night of the Soul. Well, at least the first half of it anyway . . . I'm still slowly reading this one.

concerning the secret pride of beginners:

". . . being very fervent and diligent in spiritual things and devout exercises, there often comes to them, as a result of their imperfections, a certain kind of secret pride. (. . .) Hence, a certain vain desire comes to them, a desire to speak of spiritual things in the presence of others. They may even strive to teach these things rather than being content with simply learning them."

concerning spiritual gluttony:

"For many of them, lured by the sweetness and pleasure they find in such exercises, begin to strive more after the sweetness rather than the spiritual purity and discretion that God desires and accepts throughout one's spiritual journey."

". . . strive with all their nerves to obtain some kind of sensible sweetness and pleasure instead of humbly doing reverence and giving praise within themselves to God. When they have received no pleasure or sweetness in their senses, they think they have accomplished nothing at all. "

concerning solitude and quietness:

". . . it gives the soul an inclination and desire to be alone and in quietness, without being able to think of any particular thing of having the desire to do so. If the souls to whome this comes to pass knew how to be quiet at this time and not too troubled about performing any kind of action, whether inward or outward . . . they would delicately experience this inward refreshment that is found in ease and freedom from care."

concerning "A Ray of Darkness":

". . . the clearer and more manifest divine things are in themselves, the darker and more hidden they are to the soul. . . . the more we look at the sun, the greater is the darkness it causes in our vision by overcoming and overwhelming it through its own weakness. In the same way, when the divine light of contemplation assails the soul that is not yet wholly enlightened, it causes spiritual darkness within it. . . . when God sends the illuminating ray of His secret wisdom to the soul that is not yet transformed, thick darkness in the understanding results."

Daybook - Monday, Dec 14th

Feast Day of St. John of the Cross

outside my window . . . another cold, gray day. We are starting to wonder if we are in Charlotte or Seattle.

in the kitchen . . . time to start cooking and baking for Christmas. Decorated sugar cookies, gingerbread, and pepparkakor, I think.

around the house . . . sat down with the kids this morning and we divided up the various chores that need to be done before Christmas. I love it when they are so helpful. We listened to Vince Guaraldi Trio's "A Charlie Brown Christmas" while we worked.

on my iPod . . . enjoying learning a bit more about the Orthodox church through some Ancient Faith podcasts. Right now I'm listening to "Intersection of East and West".

from our studies . . . we have started our Christmas break (sort of - it is Official on Wednesday when our eldest finishes his last class of the semester). But we are still enjoying some read alouds. Last week we started Dickens' A Christmas Carol just in time to watch the classic 1951 (I believe) Alistair Sims' version. His portrayal of Scrooge is fantastic and kept the kids riveted! Even my 7-year old loved it. (black and white, typical slowish movement of an old movie, and fairly plain special affects)

thinking about . . . how much fun we had at our church's Women's Christmas party last night. We had a great group of ladies! We all brought angel ornaments to exchange. I got a sweet "gingerbread" angel.


listening to. . . and sort of watching "White Christmas".

thankful for. . . finding the entire "Little House" series at my homeschool consignment store (a Saint Nicholas Day gift). My middle daughter and I have started reading them together and it is such a sweet time!

pondering the words . . . "Faith is more like a novel than a textbook. We can read a math book and work at it until we get it. But when we read a great novel we come out with our lives changed. At the end of a great novel we come out, we don't say, 'I got it,' because it's gotten us." - The Rev. Dr. Craig M. Kaillio, St. Stephen's, Oak Ridge, TN (from The Anglican Digest)

creating . . . my crochet neck warmer turned out wonderfully - I've got the bug to make more, so I'll probably work on those and another strand of "snow garland" this week.


one of my favorite things . . . my hubby's super-warm wool "professor" sweater. (He's not a professor, but the sweater makes him look like one.) Problem is I like to wear it, too. :)

a few plans for the upcoming week . . . Tuesday: eldest has testing for a small private school we are considering for high school next year; Wednesday: we are doing our Christmas decorating after my eldest's last CC Challenge seminar; and our first Christmas company arrives Friday!

a picture thought I'm sharing . . .

my middle daughter with her stacks of Little House books.

Enjoy more Daybooks at Peggy’s!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Peter Piper's Picks : Advent 2 edition

Welcome to Peter Piper's Picks for the week of Advent 2!

:-: Catholic Cuisine is a wealth of ideas for celebrating the church year. I think this idea for a "Jesse Tea" is just fabulous. I'm filing this in my "next year" ideas file! Wouldn't this be fun to do with a few families, each one bringing a few of the snacks to share?

:-: My friend Lynne at Sweetbriar Patch has written a lovely essay about Spiritual Disciplines and Advent. You don't want to miss it.

:-: Recently, I was involved (mostly listening, as it were) in a conversation about the spirit of Advent - is it deeply penitent, lightly penitent, why not Christmas carols, etc. I really like iMonk's post about the Mood of Advent: needfulness.

:-: Andrew at Quiddity asks A Serious Question About Christmas. It is one I've pondered myself, but haven't brave enough to really answer. Perhaps because I know what my answer would be and I just can't imagine the implications . . . .

and finally . . .

And now dear friends, I'm off to get ready to attend a lovely Brunch being hosted by my church's middle school girls' bible study group. I'm so excited - they are a sweet group of girls and I'm honored to be invited!

Have a fantastic Saturday!

Saint Lucia - a celebration!

Saint Lucia (or Saint Lucy) is traditionally feasted on the 13th of December. However this year it falls on a Sunday, so many will move their celebration to Saturday before or Monday after. Would you like to join in the celebrations? Read on for history, a description of how we celebrate, a recipe, and other ideas for her feast day. . .

:-: History :-:
In the days of early Christian persecution, St. Lucia is said to have carried food to Christians hiding in dark underground tunnels. To light the way she wore a wreath of candles on her head. Spurning marriage and worldly goods, she vowed to remain a virgin in the tradition of St. Agatha. An angry suitor reported her to the local Roman authorities, she was sentenced to death, and subsequently she became a martyr.

St. Lucia Day is celebrated on December 13th. In Scandinavia, a young girl in each family is awakened early in the morning, dressed in a white robe with a red ribbon around the waist and crowned with a wreath of candles. Her duty is to bring breakfast to her family: Special sweet buns flavored with saffron and coffee.

Because her name means “light”, she is a special saint to the Swedes who have a very long, dark winter. She is often called the “Queen of Light”.

:-: How we celebrate :-:
We choose to honor her in our family since she represents the two of the heritages in our family: Italian (my side) and Swedish (hubby's side). (Since she is an Italian saint who is especially celebrated by the Swedes.) And she also represents how living a sacrificial life allows Christ’s light to shine through us.

Our celebration this year will be on Monday. Early in the morning, I'll wake my eldest daughter (7) and dress her in a white cotton dress and red sash. In the past I've made her a "candle wreath" with glittery pipe cleaners. I suppose I'll do the same. Although, I've had thoughts of a real wreath with those flameless tea lights. (You can also make a a lovely paper St. Lucy crown..) She'll deliver saffron buns and hot cocoa to her brothers and father and then she and I will return to the kitchen for our own candlelight breakfast - just the two of us.

:-: A Recipe :-:
Here is the recipe I use for saffron buns. The dough is made in a breadmaker and then hand-shaped and baked in the oven.

The following recipe comes from The Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook :

Add the ingredients in the order specified in your bread machine's manual. (Mine is wet first, then dry, then yeast)

3/4 c. plus 2 T milk
1 lg. egg

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1/3 c. granulated white sugar
1/4 tsp powdered saffron (if you can only find saffron in "threads", just pulverize these as best you can then measure out 1/4 tsp. A trick I just learned is to use a bit of sugar as you pulverize with your mortar and pestle.)
3 T unsalted butter

2 1/4 fast-rise yeast

Place all in a 2-cup capacity breadmaker and set on "dough". At the end of the rise, punch down the dough and let rest 5 minutes before hand-shaping.

To handshape:
Lightly sprinkle work surface with flour. Divide dough into equal peices: 2 for 2 large breads, 4 for small breads, 6 to 8 for smaller buns. Lightly sprinkle with flour. Dampen hands and roll each piece into a rope. (18 inches for the 2 large pieces, 9 inches for the 4 pieces, etc.)

Lay a rope on a lightly-greased baking sheet. Curl each end, toward the center, into a coil. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush bread with egg wash (1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water). Bake for approx. 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a rack.

This bread freezes well and is excellent served toasted with orange marmalade. (We serve small buns on St. Lucy's Day and freeze a larger bread for Christmas morning.)

:-: Other ideas for celebrating St. Lucia :-:

:: Consider an Italian feast for dinner (she was a Roman martyr) or traditional Sicilian "cuccia" - which can be made MANY different ways (sweet or savory). (HT: Catholic Cuisine)

:: No time for saffron buns? Make or purchase some delicious muffins instead.

:: Instead of breakfast in bed, consider a candlelight breakfast for the family.

:: Decorate with traditional straw ornaments (St. Lucy is often associated with wheat and Scandinavians love to decorate with straw at Christmas) make a lovely addition to your tree - or on their own small tree.

:: A nice book to share more about these traditions is Kirsten's Surprise in the American Girls series.

:: Here are some other ideas from various countries.

If you post about your St. Lucia celebration, please leave a link in the comments!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Enjoy some Advent music

It is early morning and I'm working away on my computer, sipping my "Constant Comment" tea, listening to my advent music playlist (O Come, Lo A Rose Ere Blooming, In the Bleak Midwinter, etc). Doesn't that sound cozy? You want to listen, too?

Here's my playlist:
(email subscribers - if you can't see the embedded YouTube box below, come on over to the blog)

I will keep this in my sidebar until Christmas.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Saturday Evening Blog Post for November

Well, it is late afternoon on a Monday. . . not at all a Saturday Evening. I hope I'm forgiven my late submission.

Each month ElizabethEsther invites bloggers to submit their best post from the previous month. This is a great way to meet some new bloggers and read what they consider their best posts. Go check it out!

This month I'm choosing the remarkable Advent Carnival! This was an easy choice because the reason it is so good is due to the contributing bloggers. It isn't too late to start celebrating Advent - even if you never have before! If you choose even just one Advent tradition to incorporate you will be blessed.

Don't miss the other Saturday Evening Posts!

Daybook - Monday, Dec 7th

Pearl Harbor Day

outside my window . . . Dimly gray, cold day. The trees are almost completely bare. . . but there are still a few hangers-on. My hummingbird feeder, hanging sadly from its tree branch, needs to be thawed and cleaned and put away for winter.

in the kitchen . . . the clutter of the weekend is still lingering. I have thoughts of making gingerbread in the next day or two.

around the house . . . do I say this almost every Monday? I think I do. . . my laundry is mounting. Time for a load or twenty.

on my iPod . . . I'm listening to some freebie downloads: The 4-Hour Work Week (interesting and with some good ideas, but on the whole mostly what you'd expect: how to get rich or at least live like the rich. Not quite my goal in life. But I do wonder if some of his ideas can't be used to create income that would allow one to do mission or charity work, or even just travel more with
the family. ) and The Brothers Karamazov.

from our studies . . . starting our Advent studies officially this week. Memorizing 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, reading old Advent hymns for poetry, enjoying reading a number of Christmas stories and reading about St. Nicholas.

thinking about . . . Christmas presents - I'd enjoy Christmas shopping more if my budget weren't so tight.


listening to. . . my kids play outside.

thankful for. . . a new part-time job that I can do at home on my own time and will give us a little extra cash each month.

pondering the words . . . from our Advent Lessons and Carols yesterday: Behold I will create a new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. Isaiah 65:17-18

creating . . . I finished my first strand of crochet Christmas Tree garland. It was so easy and fun! Instead of the star garland, I did a little puffball garland, so it looks a bit like mini-snowballs. I'm starting on an experimental crochet neck warmer that I made up when I ran out of yarn for a scarf I was working on. I'll let you know how that turns out.


to foster a sense of rhythm, reverence and time. . . there is something wonderful about pulling out old familiar Advent and Christmas items: books we've read many times, an antique advent banner cross-stitched with love, the playmobil nativity set, the familiar countdown chalkboard.

to live the liturgy . . . listening to Advent music while watching the candles burn and listening to the day's Jesse Tree reading. We finally (better late than never!) changed out our family altar colors. . . now we are all in purples.

to educate faithfully . . . trying to keep my eldest motivated in the last week or so before his Christmas break. It is hard when even the teacher (me) wants to just have that break!


one of my favorite things . . . my red crochet neck warmer (the accidental creation I mentioned above).

milestones in the past week . . . Baby L has a NEW WORD! She has started saying "Brubbie" for Brother! We all enjoy watching her work so carefully on forming that "B" sound - it comes out soft and cooing.

a few plans for the upcoming week . . . finishing up painting at our rental property today and tomorrow, holiday dinner with the ladies from my new job on Wednesday, Children's Theatre and playdate on Thursday, Girls' Bible Study Christmas Brunch on Saturday, Date Night with hubby to see Messiah (free at local church with a FANTASTIC choral group) and getting ready for St. Lucia Day (we'll celebrate on Monday).

a picture thought I'm sharing . . .

My advent centerpiece on our dining room table.

Enjoy more Daybooks at Peggy's place!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Preparing for Saint Nicholas Day!

This is an updated post from last year. . .

Do you celebrate St. Nicholas Day? Wonder how or why someone celebrates St. Nicholas Day? Would you like to? It's not too late to put together a nice celebration - St. Nicholas Day is on Dec. 6th. (See some excellent book recommendations at the bottom of this post.)

In many countries, St. Nicholas Day is the day on which children get their gifts, while Christmas is reserved for church services and family get-togethers. We've begun celebrating St. Nicholas instead of mingling Santa and Jesus on Christmas day. This allows us the fun of "Santa" without it getting confused with the Birth of Christ. Not that you can't enjoy "Santa" on Christmas, but for us it was getting hard to keep our kids focused on Christ on Christmas. And the whole Santa kneeling at the manger - bleh, no, not for me.

Here is how we've celebrated in years past:
On St. Nicholas Eve, the children excitedly and carefully lay out their shoes by the fireplace for St. Nick to fill. And they leave out a small plate of cookies and crackers, also. I've heard that in some countries they leave St Nick a nice beer (I think Belgium is where this is done) - that might be an addition to this year's celebration!

In the morning they found their shoes filled with a couple small gifts, sweet treats, and a chocolate santa (a tradition at our house - this year we are going to make these into Bishops with the directions from the Saint Nicholas Center). Even DH and I found our shoes had been laid out for us (by an elf, I presume) and filled with goodies and gifts!

Our favorite tradition is a true "feast" breakfast! We eat in the dining room with candles and special plates. The kids especially love the hot cocoa with a peppermint stick and whipped creme! Who wouldn't love that?

We have a small collection of Santa items that I put out as a display. This is the first of the real Christmas decorating we do. There are also some extra goodies from Mom and Dad waiting for the kids on the table, usually chocolate coins and fun Christmas pencils.

At each place, there is also a nice little postcard with a vintage Santa image. These are our "secret santa" good deed cards. A good deed is done and the postcard left behind. The card recipient then does a good deed for someone else and leaves a card behind. You could use any card - homemade or otherwise. And, it wouldn't even have to be a Santa postcard - anything seasonal you like would do well! We continue these for a day or so.

Later we snuggle up on the couch and read about Saint Nicholas. I especially love Ann Tompert's Saint Nicholas book (see below). This year I've added a new book: Santa's Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki (found in on the shelf at Barnes and Noble). This would be especially appropriate for a family that wants to continue celebrating Santa Claus on Christmas. It is a sweetly illustrated book. Santa shares his favorite story - of the First Christmas - with the woodland animals who respond by saying, "How silly we have been,' said the fox, 'to think that Christmas was only about presents." Then all the animals go back to Santa's house to help him finish his Christmas work.

Do you celebrate St. Nicholas Day? I'd love to hear about it! If you blog it, let me know and I'll link to your post.

Here are some book recommendations (see more at HERE):

(My favorite)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Third Annual Advent Carnival

Welcome to the Third Annual Advent Carnival!

This little carnival began in 2007 as a way to connect with other liturgically-minded bloggers (and blog readers). You can enjoy those carnivals, too: 2007 and 2008.

We all hope you find some inspiration for starting or continuing your family's Advent tradition!

History of Advent
Advent is the first season of the Church Year, starting four Sundays before Christmas (the Sunday nearest November 30th) and ends on Dec. 24th, Christmas Eve. The Advent season was formally established by the church at the Council of Tours in 567 as a period of fasting and preparation for the 12-day feast of Christmas. Our Eastern Christian friends (Eastern Orthodox) begin their Advent or Nativity Fast much earlier, the middle of November (40 days before Christmas).

:-: Deb, a long-time blogging friend and convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, has some lovely and simple Advent ideas for Easter OR Western Christians at her blog Deb on the Run. Don't miss her lovely Jesse Tree!

Learning about Advent
The word Advent comes from the latin "adventus", which means "coming", which was a translation of the Greek "parousia" a term that is often used for the Second Coming. Thus Advent is a season of looking forward to the immediate coming (of Christmas) and the future return of Christ.

Learning about Advent . . .
:-: Papa Bear from Goldilocks and the Three Bears shares a series of posts describing their journey to discovering Advent: How a Simple Tradition Led from Commercialism to Christ.
Learning during Advent. . .
:-: Elizabeth
In the Heart of My Home has a load of Advent and Christmas links, including a few of her fantastic lesson plans for homeschoolers. BUT after you read those, don't miss her post about doing Advent "Right": Advent and the Generous Person

Preparation of the heart
Advent is a season of fasting, reflection, and preparation of hearts and homes, much like Lent, but with a decidedly festive undercurrent.

:-: Ann from Learning As We Go has written a series of devotions to use with your family during Advent all on the theme of PREPARATION. She has offered to email the full curriculum (with crafts and full children's church routines) to anyone interested.

Exploring symbols and meaning
Many families enjoy making and using an Advent wreath made of evergreens. You may use any type of greenery you like or have on hand. We have huge rosemary bushes which need cutting back, so we often use some rosemary mixed in with other greenery. Here are some of the types of evergreens and their symbolic meanings:
  • Pine , the most common evergreen, points to Everlasting Life,
  • Laurel (Bay), which was used to crown those who won in the games, signifies victory.
  • Cedar , because it is long lasting and aromatic, is symbolic of strength and healing.
  • Juniper , Holly, and Rosemary By legend these plants provided shelter and help for the Holy Family when they fled from Bethlehem to Egypt. The fragrance of rosemary, it has been said, began when the Virgin Mary laid out the Infant Jesus’ clothes to dry on this plant. The rosemary bush responded by perfuming the Christ Child’s clothing.
    Holly . Its prickly leaves remind us of the Crown of Thorns. Its red berries remind us of the Blood of Jesus shed for us upon the Cross.
  • Ivy , since it is frequently used as a decoration, has always been a symbol of joy and festivity.

:-: Amy from Splendor in the Ordinary challenges us to enjoy new and different traditions and ideas, but not to miss the depth and richness of the ones we might already enjoy. Don't miss her further links on Advent Wreaths and Christmas Traditions, The Jesse Tree, Favorite Christmas Books, and an Advent music playlist!

Each week's candle also has a symbolic meaning

First Week of Advent - Hope
Arise, shine; For you light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. Isaiah 60: 1-3

:-: My friend at Two Square Meals shares a winsome and touching post about last year's Advent when she not only awaited the birth of Christ, but the birth of her third child: God Made Flesh.

Second Week of Advent - Love
Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 40:4-5

:-: Amy, from Frankly Journaling, an "in-real-life" friend, shares how she came to appreciate and love the liturgical form of worship and how she is teaching her children to love it, too, in her family's Advent celebrations. If you are new to Advent or liturgy, don't miss her Journey to Advent!

Third Week of Advent - Joy
. . . and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35: 10

:-: The Olive Grove tells us about her Advent as a "baptist with liturgical longings" and how simplifying in Advent has made Christmas more meaningful. She has discovered that by giving up some things (or really postponing them) she has gained much more. She also promises more posts about Advent in Keeping Advent: What's Missing?

Fourth Week of Advent - Peace
For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given. And the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6-7

:-: Amy, a dear and gracious blogging friend, who has mercifully forgiven me for my oversight, is Escaping into Advent on her blog On a Joyful Journey. I adore that phrase. I'm going to meditate on that. ~~~ She also has posted a great list of meaningful and fun movies for Advent and Christmas. Anyone who loves White Christmas, A Christmas Carol (from 1951) and Elf definitely has my kind of movie taste!

:-: And finally, my post from last year: The Advent That Almost Wasn't. I was always (and still am) a fan of "The Year Without A Santa Claus", well last year was almost the year without an Advent, and just like that story, in the end I realized what I might be missing. And a link to a collection of my previous Advent posts, including a 5 part series on our family's many Advent traditions!

Just as I posted the carnival I got a sweet email with another post. Some how a late-comerseems appropriate for Advent, so I'm adding it in . . .

:-: Lindsey from Reading Red Letters has a few ideas for Advent, too!

We hope you enjoyed the carnival! Please tell your friends about, and feel free to borrow the image to do so. If you post about Advent, please leave a link in the comments, so we can come visit!

O Lord, stir up our hearts that we may prepare for Thy only begotten Son that through His coming we may be made worthy to serve Thee with pure minds through Christ our Lord.

Looking for Advent?

Are you looking for Advent ideas or resources: Advent wreath, Advent calendar, Jesse Tree, St. Nicholas, St. Lucy or others?

:-: Advent books for families and individuals

:-: Saints for Advent: Saint Nicholas and Saint Lucia

:-: The Advent That Almost Wasn't - be sure to scroll down for links to simple Advent ideas.

:-: Rethinking the Christmas Craze - my rant, or not.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Advent Carnival Tomorrow

Only 2 more days until Advent!
Are you:
  • new to celebrating Advent?
  • looking for some new ideas for Advent?
  • just love to read what other people are up to during Advent?
Then you don't want to miss the Advent Carnival!

On Saturday, November 28th, this blog, A Ten O'Clock Scholar, will host the Third Annual Anglican Advent Traditions Carnival. It will feature posts from Anglican and other liturgical-minded bloggers with ideas, links, resources, thoughts, and more for Advent. Want to see what we did in 2007 and 2008?

Like to contribute? Today is the last day for submissions! Here are the guidelines:
  1. Write a post (or posts, you may submit as many as you like) about how your family celebrates Advent, resources you use, link collections - anything you like, really, but stick to the topic of Advent. Remember it is not Christmas, yet! You do not have to be Anglican to contribute!

  2. Email a link to your post to me at kerrysblogs (at) gmail (dot) com TODAY, Friday, Nov. 27th. Please include the post title and your name (or the name you'd like me to use).

  3. Update your post with a link to the Advent Carnival's main page once the Carnival is published on the 28th.

  4. Help us get the word out! Email friends, announce it on your blog, twitter, facebook - whatever!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Daybook - Monday, November 23rd

outside my window . . . solid gray sky reflected in charcoal puddles. My front beds looking a bit bedraggled.

in the kitchen . . . making ahead lots of food today and tomorrow and the next day for our Thanksgiving celebration. Oh, and last night I made a REALLY easy pot of soup. Literally, open, pour, stir, serve: 2 boxes of Trader Joe's Creamy Corn and Roasted Pepper soup, 2 cans of corn, 2 cans of black beans (rinsed well), and a 7oz jar of pimentos. I added a little shredded cheese when I served it. You could make it a bit heartier by adding some browned ground or shredded chicken/turkey/beef. It is really SO delicious!

around the house . . . lots of cleaning and decluttering to get ready for Thanksgiving and the holiday season. The kids have all gotten their cleaning assignments. I'm polishing silver today - among other things.


on my iPod . . . adding some Advent music to my iPod this week.

from our studies . . . the next few days are all about "Home Ec"!

thinking about . . . the upcoming Advent Carnival. I can't wait to see the posts!

listening to. . . my dog, who sounds like she is trying to hack up a hairball. The kids discussing a Pink Panther movie my middle daughter is making up.

thankful for. . . our cash budget. It is such a relief to go spend money I have in my hand and not worry about "going over".

creating . . . I might start on that crochet Christmas star garland this week.


to foster rhythm and beauty . . . some fresh flowers for our Thanksgiving table. Reviewing previous year's Advent traditions and adding a new one: a Jesse Tree.

to live the liturgy . . . gathering for our family altar-space: a purple cloth, a new candle and making upcoming feast day icons for Advent.

to educate faithfully . . . gathering resources for an Advent lesson plan based mostly on Jan Brett's Christmas Treasury and our new Jesse Tree.


one of my favorite things . . . my little secretary desk in the corner of my dining room. It is a tiny little corner, but it is MY corner.

a few plans for the upcoming week . . . meetings for me tonight and tomorrow night, my mom arrives Tuesday, Thanksgiving dinner of course on Thursday, maybe shopping on Black Friday, maybe a trip downtown to see the sights on Saturday.

a picture thought I'm sharing . . .

This is my tiny corner.

Enjoy more Daybooks at Peggy's!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Advent Music on YouTube

Two of my blog friends, Juanita and Amy, have created YouTube playlists for Advent music. How wonderful is that? Check it out:

:: Amy at Splendor in the Ordinary - Advent Music Playlist

:: Juanita at The Olive Grove - Advent Music videos and Playlist

I might make one, too. If you make a playlist, leave a comment with the link!

Peter Piper's Picks: Nov 21st

::This is why knowing history is so important to our understanding of biblical truth (and studying the Greek). Of Belts and Breastplates from Mere Comments. This gave me a much better understand of the Belt of Truth!

::Brandy has compiled a phenomenal booklist based on a couple CiRCE conference talks. Some really great books!

::A winsomely worded reminder about our lives' priorities - blogging (and blog reading) in particular - from Mrs Anna T at Domestic Felicity.

::8 great family gift ideas from Heart of the Matter

::And a great holiday funny from Fail blog. (Do you know Fail blog? I enjoy it, but you do have to use some discretion here. At the top of the blog is a link to see only G-rate matieral.) Only this time it is a WIN: Holiday Lighting Win.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Rethinking the Christmas Craze

Repost from Dec 2008. And, of course, don't forget the upcoming Advent Carnival!

Sometimes I get irritated with the mad push for Christmas.

This past summer I noticed a local craft store with their Holiday displays out in full array in JULY. Yes. July. The local Christian radio station started playing Christmas music two weeks ago. The city decorations have begun to appear. I've even seen a Christmas tree twinkling from behind a neighbor's curtains.

Why can’t we wait for the holiday to arrive before we celebrate it?

This is a bit of a cliché gripe, I know. Everyone loves complaining about how early the Christmas rush begins. I love complaining about it, too. It is an easy shot to take and does make me feel a bit "superior". But there is something truly symptomatic in it, isn't there?

All this craziness seems to me to reflect the spiritual state of our culture. Despite what we may hear and read, I believe the Christmas Craze is evidence of the desire for spiritual fulfillment for believer and non-believer alike: the coming of the Savior. We are anxious for the future: both near (Christmas) and distant (Second Coming). It is so tempting to begin the celebrations early! This is not an altogether bad desire – it reveals the Christian's hope. However, it does become a distraction when it overshadows the work that must be done before both those long-awaited days of the Savior's appearance. Both of these events require seasons of preparation – Advent. To skip these might leave us unready to fully welcome the Savior.

In the past, I’ve found myself trying so hard to avoid all Christmas celebrations until Christmas was really here. I was determined to observe a good Advent season. Our culture makes this almost impossible – and in fact it was for me. But, now I’m not sure this is really necessary or preferable. I still maintain that a thoughtful Advent observance heightens the celebration of Christmas; however, Advent can be enhanced by appreciating a taste of the joy awaiting us. It awakens our hearts a bit and makes them yearn even more for the end of Advent, both the seasonal and the eternal!

My family will continue our usual Advent traditions, maintaining our focus on this season of preparation. However, we’ll also enjoy those moments of festivity knowing that the full celebration is yet to come and allowing the yearning for that celebration to grow! And instead of griping about the premature and over-the-top Christmas celebrations, I’m going to focus on being thankful for this proof of the desires deep in the hearts of us all.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Christ the King Sunday and Stir-Up Sunday

The Feast of Christ the King,
Sunday Nov 22nd

A little history:

The Feast of Christ the King was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an antidote to secularism, a way of life which leaves God out of man's thinking and living and organizes his life as if God did not exist. The feast is intended to proclaim in a striking and effective manner Christ's royalty over individuals, families, society, governments, and nations.

Read the encyclical.

Some ideas for celebrating the feast:
  • Ideas for readings and discussion for a range of children's ages from Proclaiming Faith: Christ the King

  • has a nice coloring page with some activity ideas (some rather Catholic based, but I really like the idea to make a banner and have the kids decorate it with images and words about the ways Christ is our King: powerful, wise, caring, etc.). And tons of ideas on the Lesson Plan page.

  • We've enjoyed getting cardboard crowns (or making them ourselves) and decorating them with whatever we have one hand. Wear them to dinner or use them to decorate.

  • And get some recipes and other ideas from Catholic

  • Other posts you might enjoy:
    Splendor in the Ordinary

    The image of Christ Pantocrator was taken by Guillaume Piolle and is from the central dome of the cathedral Agios Andreas (Saint Andrew) in Patras, Achaea, Greece.

This Sunday is also "Stir-Up Sunday", a traditionally Anglican term for the last Sunday before Advent, and is a reference to the collect for this day:

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be
plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Here's a bit more about the day with a variety of recipes for traditional Plum Pudding. I'm not sure I want to make Plum Pudding, but we might use this Sunday to make a batch of our traditional Swedish mulled wine, Glogg, to sit and meld a bit until Christmas.

One source I read said that this is a traditional day for families to begin their Christmas planning and preparations, so it might be fun to sit down as a family and make lists of crafts, gifts, cards, movies, events etc for the upcoming Advent and Christmas season. Perhaps you might want to make a family calendar with all your Advent plans? We will use this Sunday to pull out our Advent boxes and look through them, freshening up any decorations or supplies.

Do you have any suggestions for recipes that need to be made well-ahead of Christmas and (or) take a good deal of stirring?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Crochet Decoration for Christmas

Don't forget about the Carnival! If you are planning on submitting, would you drop me an email or leave a comment?

Would you like a simple project to work on during Advent? How about a crochet project that won't take any time to whip out? How about a crochet star chain for your Christmas tree? I'm reprinting the directions here because they are buried in a long post, but that post is filled with great Advent ideas, so do go check out the original post - and photos, don't miss those - at O Night Divine.

Make a loop for the hook. Chain 6 loops and form a ring with a slip stitch. Make 2 single crochets in the ring. Chain 5 loops. Repeat the "2 single crochets--chain 5 loops" steps four more times. This makes 5 parts of the star around the center ring. Join the last chain loop to the first single crochet with a slip stitch.

Then make a chain 7 inches long. Count back 6 loops from the hook and push the hook through the loop. Form a ring. Work another 5 part star around the ring.

Continue making chains and stars until the chain is at least several feetlong. Drape it on the branches of your tree. The spiders will be envious. But your friends needn't be--you can give them some as presents.

How delicate and old-fashioned would these pretty little things look? Doesn't that look easy? I'll let you know how mine goes!

Welcome to the facelifted Ten O'Clock Scholar!

If you are subscribed in a reader or by email, come on over to the blog and check out the new look!

Here's what I did:
  1. Added a custom background and tweaked the whole layout (adjusted fonts, moved date to center, removed excess space between sidebar items, switched back to a two-column layout, tweaked margins between posts and between columns to give extra "white" space).

  2. Created and added a new custom header

  3. Reorganized sidebar items

  4. Removed a few unused sidebar items

  5. Created and added custom buttons in sidebar

  6. Created a Google Calendar for blog events and Liturgical observances with a link in the sidebar.

  7. Created and added custom title images for sidebar items

  8. Reorganized post labels (added: Adoption, Unlabeled, Home Making, and Great Thoughts) - I still have a little to do here, I want to rename some of the labels, ex: "Reading" to "Good Books".

  9. Changed my Archives to a drop down menu (to save sidebar space)

  10. Added text with my email addy in the footer.
I did all this myself and for free (ie. I didn't buy any backgrounds, images, etc)! So, if I can do (Art History major, remember) you certainly can, too!

If you have a blog and are interested in some of the resources I used:

Microsoft Publisher (blank website document to create background, button images, and header), but you could use any package for creating/editing images you have - PhotoShop is probably better for this than Publisher, but it is all I have!

Online Image Editor (free web-based image editor - that is where I got the cool "Argos" font in the header and sidebar)

Photobucket (hosting my background image, and it helped me tweak the pixel size on some images)

And these blogs for free html/css advice:

So, come on over and check it out. . . and let me know if you see any major mistakes! :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Daybook - Monday, November 16th

Feast of St. Margaret of Scotland

outside my window . . .
orange leaves set against a really blue, Carolina blue, sky

in the kitchen . . .
oatmeal with brown sugar for breakfast and making a batch of broth today for soup later this week.

around the house . . .
it's laundry day again! Also, time for some deep cleaning before Thanksgiving.

from our studies . . .
learning about the Byzantine Empire this week in history and the parts of a flower in science.

thinking about . . .
the changes to the blog I've made so far (contemplating returning to a two-column spread and putting the background image on one side only (just the scholar). If you have an opinion, leave a comment!


listening to. . .
a bird chirping away outside and the baby playing quietly in her crib.

thankful for. . .
our friend Susan who sent Saturday night's leftovers home with us. We had a delicious soup and bread meal last night and custard apple pie for a few days!

pondering the words . . .

"Orthodoxy has maintained the New Testament tradition, whereas Rome has often added to it and Protestantism subtracted from it." from an Orthodox church leaflet.

reading . . .
Just started a children's version of Canterbury Tales. The kids are really enjoying it! I picked this up on a whim at one of the homeschool book sales this summer (from one of those "old book" vendors).

creating . . .
about to pick up my crochet needle (hook?) and whip out another couple hats. (I need to post the photos of the girls' hats!)


to foster rhythm, reverence, and time...
I hope to get the whole family inspired for preparing the house for Thanksgiving.
Some new fall smelling candles, polishing some silver, freshening the table linens, preparing guest rooms (and children's rooms to be used as guest rooms), preparing meal plans and make some food ahead of time, pulling out a family puzzle to work on, and perhaps a book to read as a family over Thanksgiving week.

one of my favorite things . . .
a new memory work "bulletin board" I made this week. I'll post about this later this week!

milestones in the past week . . .
Baby L has been using a few new signs lately: eat, milk and she's started saying "Kitty". (She's said it once before, but then hasn't for a couple of months. )

a few plans for the upcoming week . . .
Art today,
our last Classical Conversations meeting for the year on Wed,
the last Drama class (and skits presented to family) on Thurs,
boys going to the Car Show on Fri,
and the last "regular season" Farmer's Market on Saturday.

a picture thought I'm sharing . . .

Middle Daughter exploring St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church
during their Open House.
Enjoy more Daybooks at Peggy's!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Put on your hard hats. . .

I'm making some changes to the Ol' Ten O'Clock Scholar blog space, so things may be a bit messy around here for a few days. Hang with me until I get it all spiffed up!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Peter Piper's Picks: Nov 14th

Liturgical Nuts and Bolts - from iMonk: a great explanation of the liturgy by an Anglican priest.

From, a commercial website, a fascinating look at what was being read during World War I, especially what was being read by soldiers.

Have you ever been unfriended, literally or via Facebook? Read to the end for a link to a Garrison Keillor take on unfriending, too.

Third Annual Advent Carnival!

Only 14 more days until Advent!

Are you:
  • new to celebrating Advent?
  • looking for some new ideas for Advent?
  • just love to read what other people are up to during Advent?
Then you don't want to miss the Advent Carnival!

Here's the skinny:

On Saturday, November 28th, this blog, A Ten O'Clock Scholar, will host the Third Annual Anglican Advent Traditions Carnival. It will feature posts from Anglican and other liturgical-minded bloggers with ideas, links, resources, thoughts, and more for Advent. Want to see what we did in 2007 and 2008?

Like to contribute? I'm accepting submissions from now until noon Friday, November 27th. Here are the guidelines:
  1. Write a post (or posts, you may submit as many as you like) about how your family celebrates Advent, resources you use, link collections - anything you like, really, but stick to the topic of Advent. Remember it is not Christmas, yet! You do not have to be Anglican to contribute!

  2. Email a link to your post to me at kerrysblogs (at) gmail (dot) com by noon Friday, Nov. 27th. Please include the post title and your name (or the name you'd like me to use).

  3. Update your post with a link to the Advent Carnival's main page once the Carnival is published on the 28th.

  4. Help us get the word out! Email friends, announce it on your blog, twitter, facebook - whatever!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blessed Martilmasse, to Ye!

It is the day of Martilmasse
Cuppes of ale should freelie pass;
What though Wynter has begunne
To push downe the Summer sunne,
To our fire we can betake,
And enjoye the crackling brake,
Never heeding Wynter’s face
On the day of Martilmasse.
~~From an Old English Ballad

Today is the feast day of St. Martin of Tours. This is not a feast day I'd planned on celebrating (most feast days we just read about the saint's life, some we enjoy some special foods or crafts), but there are lots of fun traditions surrounding his feast day! It is also Veteran's Day and St. Martin is an excellent saint for Veteran's Day.

Here's a brief biography from Catholic Culture:

St. Martin was born (c. 316) at Sabaria, a town in Pannonia near the famous Benedictine monastery dedicated to his name. Against the wishes of his parents he associated with Christians and became a catechumen at the age of ten. At fifteen he entered the army and served under the Emperors Constantius and Julian. While in the service he met a poor, naked beggar at the gates of Amiens who asked alms in Christ's Name. Martin had nothing with him except his weapons and soldier's mantle; but he took his sword, cut the latter in two, and gave half to the poor man. During the following night Christ appeared to him clothed with half a mantle and said, "Martin, the catechumen, has clothed Me with this mantle!"

Martin was eighteen years old when he received the sacrament of holy baptism. At the pleading of his superior officer, he remained two years longer in the army. Then, upon requesting dismissal, Julian accused him of cowardice. "With the sign of the Cross," Martin answered, "I shall more certainly break through the ranks of the enemy than if armed with shield and sword."

Want a bit more? Here is a nice biography of St. Martin and a history of traditions from Fisheaters. I thought this was particularly interesting:

St. Martin's remaining piece of cloak became a very revered relic. In fact, the building where his cloak -- "cappa" in Latin -- was preserved was known as the "cappella," the root of our words "chapel" and "chaplain."

Some ideas for celebrating:

St Martin's tomb

A blessing at table:
Lord God, source of all that is good, we praise your holy name on this day in which we celebrate the memory of your faithful servant, Martin of Tours. By the example of his life, renew in us the desire to follow daily in the footsteps of Christ, your Son. Bless this nourishment, which we receive from your bounty. May it strengthen us for your service. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

~~From the book Table Blessings: Mealtime Prayers Throughout the Year by Brother Victor-Antoine d'Avila-Latourrette

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