Friday, December 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!
  
1. Or an apology with a side of whine.

I very much wanted to blog more than once this week, but with my terrible cold and my getting a new laptop, and the usual third week of Advent rush-around-second-guessing-every-gift-and-returning-things-and-starting-over, I just didn't get to it.  I'm sorry.

Remind me to never get a new computer again.  Moving pictures,  music, email accounts, and bookmarks is a lot like moving house (something else that should not attempted during the third week of Advent).  First world problem as the Chef pointed out.

2,3,4.  Good Christmas Picture Books



There are many picture books for this season and many of them are not worth your time or money.  The Baker's Dozen:  A Saint Nicholas Tale retold by Aaron Shepard along with the following titles are a few exceptions.  The Baker's Dozen is about generosity and baked goods and having really good illustrations.  And if the spirit moves you, you can recreate the St. Nicholas cookies in the story like the other Jessica did here.




Stephen's Feast by Jean Richardson combines the feast of St. Stephen (December 26th) with the story of St. Wenceslaus and again, lovely illustrations.  I made the Chef read it, and he had never heard the story of St. Wenceslaus.  If you've never paid attention to the umpteen verses of the carol, try to snag a used copy of this out-of-print treasure.  Our library system owns it, maybe yours does too.



Simcha Fischer recently posted about Tasha Tudor's books (again with gorgeous illustrations) and that brought to mind my obsession with all things Tasha Tudor, which in turn brought to mind my obsession with all things John S. Goodall.  If you like Tasha, you will also enjoy John S. Goodall.   So sorry for sending you on another wild goose chase for out-of-print treasures.

Where is the publishing house that wants me to tell them what to re-issue?  

John S. Goodall's An Edwardian Christmas is filled with wordless pages of gloriously detailed watercolored paintings.  Fans of Downton Abbey and/or Anne of Green Gables will appreciate the glimpses of the "downstairs" life and the puffed sleeves. 

What was that?  Wordless?  Yes. Goodall's books are wordless, which means you can see/tell a different story every time.  Other Goodall favorites are Shrewbettina's Birthday and Creepy Castle.

5.  DVD recommendations for your holiday viewing pleasure


A Housewifespice Facebook fan messaged me this query yesterday:

Jessica, can you give me a fast list of good dvds to rent for the holidays? my 8 kids here (11mos-17 yrs old) are getting sorta stir crazy and i am not up for an outing. thanks so much.



To which I responded with this stream of consciousness deluge:

Holiday DVDs or other? We really enjoyed the new Amazing Spider-Man, we watch a lot of superhero stuff, Superman, Batman Begins, Elf, Christmas Carol with George C Scott, the new Muppet movie, the new (90s?) Sabrina, the old Sabrina, anything Pixar, the newest Star Trek (one scene to fast forward when he wakes up with a green chick), I'm thinking about watching the old Star Treks with the fam, Apollo 13, Rise of the Planet of the Apes....Really old but good is The Magnificent Seven. Sports, we like Miracle (hockey), Field of Dreams, the Rookie. Not a lot of chick movies here, Sweet Home Alabama, Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow. My kids love the Marx Bros. That's just off the top of my head.


Of course, I forgot to mention that the only thing that everyone loves, toddlers to teens, is Shaun the Sheep.  But if she's a faithful reader she must already know that.

6.  Our Family's Holiday Must See Movie that you will probably never see
 
We are leaving Sunday for a week of cousin frenzy in the Lou.  We plan to eat, drink, and be merry, hopefully with some movie-going in between.  There will probably be the annual showing of the barely viewable VHS copy of my mother's favorite Christmas movie of all time, Little Lord Fauntleroy starring Ricky Schroeder and Alec Guinness.
 

  
 
It's never on tv anymore, not since the 80s, and it's very hard to find.  I've never seen any other movie version of Little Lord Fauntleroy, so I don't know how they compare.  Oddly enough, during the ballroom scene, where young Ricky sings "Oh, dem golden slippers..."  I always crave Golden Grahams cereal.  I probably shouldn't share my inner most thoughts like that.

 
7.  The Very Best Gingerbread Cookie Recipe that All Children Love
 
 
My senior year of college, my three roommates and I did a Secret Santa/Advent Angel gift exchange.  I don't remember who had me, but I got this adorable tiny cookbook of Christmas cookies.  Eighteen years later, (gosh that makes me sound like a grown-up, what a poseur am I)  I have lost the cookbook but still have the ah-mazing gingerbread cookie recipe that I discovered within its miniscule pages.
 
My kids are always puzzled by other peoples' gingerbread.  It's always too spicy or crispy/crunchy.  Ours is deliciously mild and chewy.  It pairs best with a hot cup of tea and a reading of The Gingerbread Man retold by Jim Aylesworth.  And I have a batch chilling in the refrigerator right now.  I buy those itty bitty raisins called currants to decorate them with, and if I'm really ambitious, I might use white icing too. 
 
Without further ado, I present you with
 
Gingerbread Cookies
 
Combine these ingredients:
 
1 and 2/3 cup softened butter
1 cup packed brown sugar (Dark is best, but either is fine.)
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 egg

In another bowl, combine these ingredients:

3 tsps. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
AND 4 cups flour  Do Not Forget to add this as I did when I typed it the first time!

Add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients while mixing at low speed, and rubbing your tummy and patting your head. 

Divide dough into quarters and refrigerate for an hour or 48.

Roll, cut, add your currants or other bling.  Bake at 350 degrees on ungreased cookie sheets for 10 minutes.

Let cool for 2 minutes.

My notes say this recipe makes 10 dozen.  I say that depends on the size of your gingerbread man cookie cutter.

Have a blessed Christmas!  And here's Jen for more QTs.


Friday, December 14, 2012

7 Quick Takes - Feast of St. John of the Cross

1.


We have a winner!  And it's Charlotte from Waltzing Matilda!  I used a very complex system, where I deleted any superfluous or duplicate comments, including my own, except the duplicate comment from Sara, because I attributed that comment to Tasha in my head, because she was unable to comment for some reason, and left a comment on my facebook page.  Then, I commented that the comments were closed.  So, I had to subtract that comment from the total, bringing it down from 32 to 31.  Then, I used random.org and you can see for yourself, that Charlotte won the gift certificate from eDiaperCakes

Congratulations Charlotte!  I will email you details in the near future.

2.


Have you seen this?

It's a meme created by my husband and his cohorts at Word on Fire.  It's both a picture of Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago and a spoof of the Dos Equis ads.

Yes, it's all true.  You can read what the Cardinal, himself, wrote about his various exploits here.

Plus, the cancer part?  His doctors were unable to find any cancer cells this week, which may or may not be the result of some intercession from Father Augustus Tolton, whose cause for canonization was begun by Cardinal George in Chicago.

3.


These Pilot FriXion Ball erasable gel pens are my greatest discovery of the year.  Edmund, who is a lefty, begged me to go Walgreens to get these miraculous pens that do not smear and really erase.  Like completely!  The ink is so much better than other erasable pens too.  Another selling feature that Edmund pointed out is that the eraser never wears down.  I don't know about that, but I do know that it never falls out unlike other (choking hazard) erasable pens.

I do believe he was more thrilled with these pens than with the Hobbit legos he got from St. Nick.

So, I apologize to all of the other 4th grade moms for helping to create this craze.  Yes, they are expensive, but in my opinion totally worth it.  I might start using them myself.

One more thing, Angela says she uses them as fabric pens and when she irons the ink, it disappears.  I might try that on my never-ending "turn my boot-cut jeans into skinny jeans" saga.

4.  


In addition to Shaun the Sheep, Baby J has discovered Shaun's young spin-off, Timmy Time, also available via Netflix streaming.

5.


Peter reminded me of a VHS tape he loved as a wee one, Brambly Hedge.  Brambly Hedge is not available on DVD, at least not on DVDs that work in American DVD players (I almost learned the hard way not to order DVDs from ebayUK.)  While Brambly Hedge is not available on Netflix streaming, you and your young-uns can watch it on YouTube, and it's still just as darling and delightful as it was back in the 90s.

Brambly Hedge shows are based on the beautiful books written and illustrated by Jill Barklem.  Once upon a time, I even made curtains for the playroom out of lovely Brambly Hedge fabric.  The playroom is now my bedroom, however, I may have saved the curtains for a future in which I have time to quilt.

But the books are available on Amazon, if you still need to finish Christmas shopping!

6.

I'm almost done with my Christmas shopping.  I still have to order a few more books.


My Favorite Things by Richard Rodgers who is the Rodgers from Rodgers and Hammerstein.  This is the song from my favorite movie of all time, The Sound of Music, illustrated for children.


The third installment in Jessica Day George's Twelve Dancing Princesses series, Princess of the the Silver Woods is a re-telling of both Little Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood.  Could they be related?   My girls and I enjoyed both Princess of Glass and Princess of the Midnight Ball.  Bonus, the cover art is wonderful.



Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt is neither trite nor sappy like most Christmas books for children.  Angela is worried that the Baby Jesus is cold in the manger at church, so she takes him home to warm him up.  It's a tale of innocence and poverty and sibling love in Ireland.  Honestly, this is one of the best Christmas stories, right up there with The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry.


7.

If you're feeling extra generous this season, check out Simcha Fischer's list of charities here.  

And here is my mandatory link back to Jen, whose reality show I missed because I had to endure yet another Christmas concert at school.  Best part about this year's production, St. Joseph Nose Picker.  Close runner up is the split second we might have seen Edmund's ear as he sung his little heart out in the back row.  Back row without risers, I might add.  Third year in a row I couldn't see my own kid.  Bah humbug. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Last Year's Advent Post Recycled

Last year, I wrote a lengthy post about our Christmas books, secular and religious.

Rather than re-write that bad boy, I'm just going to link to it, again and again, and add a little post-script.

That's Not My Donkey by Fiona Watts never went in the tub or to the basement.  It stayed in action the whole year through.  Ask Baby J, "What does the donkey say?"  and she will reply, "Who-Hee."  It's a work in progress, but she looooves that book.


Also, I wrote about this book in my poetry post here, but I cannot say enough about Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers.  If you add one book to your winter library, this is the one to get.

In other news, my dear friends at the public library are probably muttering my name under the breath with other words that are not very nice because I went requested nearly every book that the other Jessica, at Shower of Roses has in her sidebar and in her St. Nicholas post that I didn't already own.  All or nothing.  The War Game book looks very promising.  I have to go clean off the holds shelf now or they may revoke my card.

Friday, December 7, 2012

7 Quick Takes - Feast of St. Ambrose

1.



I am loving this Advent playlist.  Because I am a Spotify noob, I went and bought all the songs on iTunes, and I couldn't always find the exact ones.  Some alternate versions that I am really liking are the The Barra MacNeils version of O' Come Divine Messiah, very Irish, Sting's Gabriel's Message, and People Look East by Al Petteway & Amy White, lovely guitar.

I'm going to order that Advent at Ephesus cd from the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, and I'm probably going to order copies for the 'rents for Christmas so step off, siblings!  But as the Chef recommended, I'm going to order from the Sisters' website, not some mega-store.

2.


One more week until  HOBBITSES! Then I will have to stop using them as one of seven quick takes every.single.week.

Didn't get enough of me last week, didja?


3.  



I bought the Snowflake Card Holder from Pottery Barn, and it is working out quite nicely.  Sure beats the basket of cards that got dumped out interminable times. You can see more of my pathetic attempts at photog on the Twitter and the Instagram.  See the cute little pink buttons in my sidebar for more info.  Also, I am really liking the #adventphotoaday on the Twitter.  Great idea, Beth Anne!


4.


The Chef went to a White Elephant Book Exchange/Christmas Party Luncheon at the Word on Fire office this week.  Someone was less than pleased to go home with our mint edition of  King Size Towel Origami, that came in a Rainy Day Girl Basket we had won at a recent school fundraiser.  Why Towel Origami is considered Rainy Day Fun is beyond me.  Why the folks at Word on Fire went out and purchased quality books for a White Elephant is beyond me as well.  Sorry, Jack.  *not really sorry*

5.



Did you miss my giveaway post on Wednesday?  Then why didn't you enter?  Don't need a diaper cake?  If you win, you could always donate the gift certificate or a diaper cake to your local crisis pregnancy center.  These diaper cakes are seriously cute.  All you have to do to enter is comment here before next Friday.  Easy, peasy.  

6.  



Having a hard time shopping for the dudes in your life?   Hallie gathered gift guides for your man.  And there's also this list of 50 Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Men who are like Ron Swanson

7.

I'd like to ask everyone to say a prayer for childless couples this Advent.  I think Christmas is especially hard for folks who want nothing more than stockings hung by the chimney with care, whose hearts are wide open, but whose arms are empty.  Just offer up a stinky diaper, or a middle of the night hazmat event for the people who would love to be in your shoes.


Thank you.  That is all.

Go see Jen for more fun that is funny.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Diaper Cake $25 Giveaway!!!


When Liz of ediapercakes.com asked if I would like to host a giveaway on my blog to promote her home-based business, of course I said yes, because Princess Kate is expecting!

And so is my sister (her seventh), my sister-in-law (her fifth), my friend Sara (her seventh), one of the ladies who helped pack the Jesse Tree ornaments (not sure if it's public yet, but her fourth), assorted cousins and cousins-in-law, and Our Lady (her first, to be born in a stable, but she doesn't know that part yet, or does she?).



Mothers of many children know that at some point, you can receive too many baby gifts that are newborn sized clothing.  Diaper cakes are adorable and practical.  Perfect for shower centerpieces, or new baby gifts, these diaper cakes are made out of Pampers Swaddlers size ones.

Even my friends who cloth diaper admit to using disposable those first several weeks, especially at night, or when traveling. 

Diaper cakes are the perfect gift for the baby whose gender is a surprise.  Often these babies are showered with yellow and green layettes.  My jaundiced newborns never look good in yellow or green.


My friends in Texas and other parts of the South tell me that they get a shower with every birth.  After the first birth, they get showered with diapers.  What a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of every child in a family!




What I love about these diaper cakes is that they often come with classic books!  Goodnight Moon, Pat the Bunny, and Peter Rabbit are all standbys in this house.  Like diapers, you can never have too many books.




Plus, when you shop from ediapercakes.com you know you are supporting a small business, started by a mom whose baby just turned one.  Happy Birthday Lily!  Liz started this company so she could spend more time at her important job, taking care of Lily.

How to play:  Simply visit the website and see what you like.  Then comment here and share which diaper cake is your fave.  It really helps if you don't comment anonymously.  Please share your email, either in your comment or through your Blogger profile.  If I can't reach the winner via email, I will select another.

Winner receives a $25 gift certificate to ediapercakes.com(I also receive the same for hosting the giveaway.)

The winner will be chosen by random.org on Friday, December 14th.  (Phew, one of seven quick takes, in the bag.)

Picking your favorite will be the hard part, I can't decide between Winnie the Pooh, Turtle, or this one, called Bumblebee.




Would you like more chances to win?  Promote the giveaway by tweeting, Facebook sharing, pinning on Pinterest, or link to this post on your blog.  Comment on this post for each promotion to get up to four extra chances.  I trust you to be honest.  Santa is watching.

May the odds be ever in your favor!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

7 Quick Takes Feast of St. Andrew

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit! 

1.

"Dad made the Drudge Report," said the text from my oldest baby brother.  By the time, I found the skewer to pry open my laptop and convinced the squirrels to run fast enough to reach interweb speed, I missed it.  Or I couldn't find it or something.


I found it very interesting that one of my 100+ cousins had made this her Facebook status that day:

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still."
Exodus 14:14

Hold still, Dad. 

2.

Jesse Tree Swap Update: 

Again?  I know, I know.  It's almost over.

Yesterday, I dropped of 23 boxes at USPS each containing 30 ornaments.  The other 2 ornaments will be arriving shortly, and I have been assured that I can mail these to you in envelopes.

I did not use those gallon size baggies, I realized when I woke up in a cold sweat this morning.  Some of the ornaments are quite small, so PLEASE count out your 30 ornaments before you throw away any packing material.

Bad news:  You won't get your boxes until Monday. Cassandra and the folks in Canada will have to be patient even longer.

Good news:  We were able to use medium flat rate boxes, so you are getting $4 in cash in your box too!  Again, please do not throw away any crumpled newspaper or plastic grocery bags that were used as filler until you find your ornaments and your cash.

3.

I did not print out handouts with the verses, symbols, etc.  slacker.  Rather, I will email the document to you and you can print it up, or not. 

4.

What's with everyone having their homes all decorated, trees lit and everything and it's not even Advent?

The Christmas season doesn't even start until December 24th!

How can you prepare if you have nothing left to prepare?

I just don't get it.  I put away my autumnal leaf and ceramic pumpkins today, because November is over.  But our tree won't be going up for a few weeks, and it will stay up through the Octave of Christmas, at least until the Epiphany has come and gone.

I know some folks keep their Christmas decor up until Candlemas which is February 2nd, but I can't keep a tree alive that long.

5.


Just when you've picked up your rink liner from Wisconsin, you get temps in the 50s.  Freezing temps will come.  They always do.

6.



Doing gift exchanges with friends, co-workers, or relatives?  I highly recommend Elfster.  The website does the draw, keeps it anonymous, and you can keep spouses from getting each other.  This is our second year using Elfster, and I was able to click a box that ensures nobody gets the person they had last year.   

Also, you can make a wishlist and link to items you want, or ask your gift recipient anonymous questions...which can be a lot of fun.

Yes, I ripped this take off my sister's blog.

7.

I heard a lot about this show, but no one mentioned it's set in modern times!  They look like an elf and a hobbit.


I've had so many firsts this week.  My first Bond movie (B+), my first Sherlock episodes (A+), my first Doctor Who episodes (?).  I'm not sure I started in the right place with the Doctor.  I went to Netflix and put on Episode 1 of Season 1, Rose, 2005, Christopher Eccleston.  Did I make an error?  When did David Tennant take over?  What do I do now?  What is that funny black line next to the image below?




Enough trivial drivel.  

Go see Jen for something meatier.
 
Have a blessed Advent!



Friday, December 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!
  
1. Or an apology with a side of whine.

I very much wanted to blog more than once this week, but with my terrible cold and my getting a new laptop, and the usual third week of Advent rush-around-second-guessing-every-gift-and-returning-things-and-starting-over, I just didn't get to it.  I'm sorry.

Remind me to never get a new computer again.  Moving pictures,  music, email accounts, and bookmarks is a lot like moving house (something else that should not attempted during the third week of Advent).  First world problem as the Chef pointed out.

2,3,4.  Good Christmas Picture Books



There are many picture books for this season and many of them are not worth your time or money.  The Baker's Dozen:  A Saint Nicholas Tale retold by Aaron Shepard along with the following titles are a few exceptions.  The Baker's Dozen is about generosity and baked goods and having really good illustrations.  And if the spirit moves you, you can recreate the St. Nicholas cookies in the story like the other Jessica did here.




Stephen's Feast by Jean Richardson combines the feast of St. Stephen (December 26th) with the story of St. Wenceslaus and again, lovely illustrations.  I made the Chef read it, and he had never heard the story of St. Wenceslaus.  If you've never paid attention to the umpteen verses of the carol, try to snag a used copy of this out-of-print treasure.  Our library system owns it, maybe yours does too.



Simcha Fischer recently posted about Tasha Tudor's books (again with gorgeous illustrations) and that brought to mind my obsession with all things Tasha Tudor, which in turn brought to mind my obsession with all things John S. Goodall.  If you like Tasha, you will also enjoy John S. Goodall.   So sorry for sending you on another wild goose chase for out-of-print treasures.

Where is the publishing house that wants me to tell them what to re-issue?  

John S. Goodall's An Edwardian Christmas is filled with wordless pages of gloriously detailed watercolored paintings.  Fans of Downton Abbey and/or Anne of Green Gables will appreciate the glimpses of the "downstairs" life and the puffed sleeves. 

What was that?  Wordless?  Yes. Goodall's books are wordless, which means you can see/tell a different story every time.  Other Goodall favorites are Shrewbettina's Birthday and Creepy Castle.

5.  DVD recommendations for your holiday viewing pleasure


A Housewifespice Facebook fan messaged me this query yesterday:

Jessica, can you give me a fast list of good dvds to rent for the holidays? my 8 kids here (11mos-17 yrs old) are getting sorta stir crazy and i am not up for an outing. thanks so much.



To which I responded with this stream of consciousness deluge:

Holiday DVDs or other? We really enjoyed the new Amazing Spider-Man, we watch a lot of superhero stuff, Superman, Batman Begins, Elf, Christmas Carol with George C Scott, the new Muppet movie, the new (90s?) Sabrina, the old Sabrina, anything Pixar, the newest Star Trek (one scene to fast forward when he wakes up with a green chick), I'm thinking about watching the old Star Treks with the fam, Apollo 13, Rise of the Planet of the Apes....Really old but good is The Magnificent Seven. Sports, we like Miracle (hockey), Field of Dreams, the Rookie. Not a lot of chick movies here, Sweet Home Alabama, Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow. My kids love the Marx Bros. That's just off the top of my head.


Of course, I forgot to mention that the only thing that everyone loves, toddlers to teens, is Shaun the Sheep.  But if she's a faithful reader she must already know that.

6.  Our Family's Holiday Must See Movie that you will probably never see
 
We are leaving Sunday for a week of cousin frenzy in the Lou.  We plan to eat, drink, and be merry, hopefully with some movie-going in between.  There will probably be the annual showing of the barely viewable VHS copy of my mother's favorite Christmas movie of all time, Little Lord Fauntleroy starring Ricky Schroeder and Alec Guinness.
 

  
 
It's never on tv anymore, not since the 80s, and it's very hard to find.  I've never seen any other movie version of Little Lord Fauntleroy, so I don't know how they compare.  Oddly enough, during the ballroom scene, where young Ricky sings "Oh, dem golden slippers..."  I always crave Golden Grahams cereal.  I probably shouldn't share my inner most thoughts like that.

 
7.  The Very Best Gingerbread Cookie Recipe that All Children Love
 
 
My senior year of college, my three roommates and I did a Secret Santa/Advent Angel gift exchange.  I don't remember who had me, but I got this adorable tiny cookbook of Christmas cookies.  Eighteen years later, (gosh that makes me sound like a grown-up, what a poseur am I)  I have lost the cookbook but still have the ah-mazing gingerbread cookie recipe that I discovered within its miniscule pages.
 
My kids are always puzzled by other peoples' gingerbread.  It's always too spicy or crispy/crunchy.  Ours is deliciously mild and chewy.  It pairs best with a hot cup of tea and a reading of The Gingerbread Man retold by Jim Aylesworth.  And I have a batch chilling in the refrigerator right now.  I buy those itty bitty raisins called currants to decorate them with, and if I'm really ambitious, I might use white icing too. 
 
Without further ado, I present you with
 
Gingerbread Cookies
 
Combine these ingredients:
 
1 and 2/3 cup softened butter
1 cup packed brown sugar (Dark is best, but either is fine.)
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 egg

In another bowl, combine these ingredients:

3 tsps. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
AND 4 cups flour  Do Not Forget to add this as I did when I typed it the first time!

Add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients while mixing at low speed, and rubbing your tummy and patting your head. 

Divide dough into quarters and refrigerate for an hour or 48.

Roll, cut, add your currants or other bling.  Bake at 350 degrees on ungreased cookie sheets for 10 minutes.

Let cool for 2 minutes.

My notes say this recipe makes 10 dozen.  I say that depends on the size of your gingerbread man cookie cutter.

Have a blessed Christmas!  And here's Jen for more QTs.


Friday, December 14, 2012

7 Quick Takes - Feast of St. John of the Cross

1.


We have a winner!  And it's Charlotte from Waltzing Matilda!  I used a very complex system, where I deleted any superfluous or duplicate comments, including my own, except the duplicate comment from Sara, because I attributed that comment to Tasha in my head, because she was unable to comment for some reason, and left a comment on my facebook page.  Then, I commented that the comments were closed.  So, I had to subtract that comment from the total, bringing it down from 32 to 31.  Then, I used random.org and you can see for yourself, that Charlotte won the gift certificate from eDiaperCakes

Congratulations Charlotte!  I will email you details in the near future.

2.


Have you seen this?

It's a meme created by my husband and his cohorts at Word on Fire.  It's both a picture of Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago and a spoof of the Dos Equis ads.

Yes, it's all true.  You can read what the Cardinal, himself, wrote about his various exploits here.

Plus, the cancer part?  His doctors were unable to find any cancer cells this week, which may or may not be the result of some intercession from Father Augustus Tolton, whose cause for canonization was begun by Cardinal George in Chicago.

3.


These Pilot FriXion Ball erasable gel pens are my greatest discovery of the year.  Edmund, who is a lefty, begged me to go Walgreens to get these miraculous pens that do not smear and really erase.  Like completely!  The ink is so much better than other erasable pens too.  Another selling feature that Edmund pointed out is that the eraser never wears down.  I don't know about that, but I do know that it never falls out unlike other (choking hazard) erasable pens.

I do believe he was more thrilled with these pens than with the Hobbit legos he got from St. Nick.

So, I apologize to all of the other 4th grade moms for helping to create this craze.  Yes, they are expensive, but in my opinion totally worth it.  I might start using them myself.

One more thing, Angela says she uses them as fabric pens and when she irons the ink, it disappears.  I might try that on my never-ending "turn my boot-cut jeans into skinny jeans" saga.

4.  


In addition to Shaun the Sheep, Baby J has discovered Shaun's young spin-off, Timmy Time, also available via Netflix streaming.

5.


Peter reminded me of a VHS tape he loved as a wee one, Brambly Hedge.  Brambly Hedge is not available on DVD, at least not on DVDs that work in American DVD players (I almost learned the hard way not to order DVDs from ebayUK.)  While Brambly Hedge is not available on Netflix streaming, you and your young-uns can watch it on YouTube, and it's still just as darling and delightful as it was back in the 90s.

Brambly Hedge shows are based on the beautiful books written and illustrated by Jill Barklem.  Once upon a time, I even made curtains for the playroom out of lovely Brambly Hedge fabric.  The playroom is now my bedroom, however, I may have saved the curtains for a future in which I have time to quilt.

But the books are available on Amazon, if you still need to finish Christmas shopping!

6.

I'm almost done with my Christmas shopping.  I still have to order a few more books.


My Favorite Things by Richard Rodgers who is the Rodgers from Rodgers and Hammerstein.  This is the song from my favorite movie of all time, The Sound of Music, illustrated for children.


The third installment in Jessica Day George's Twelve Dancing Princesses series, Princess of the the Silver Woods is a re-telling of both Little Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood.  Could they be related?   My girls and I enjoyed both Princess of Glass and Princess of the Midnight Ball.  Bonus, the cover art is wonderful.



Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt is neither trite nor sappy like most Christmas books for children.  Angela is worried that the Baby Jesus is cold in the manger at church, so she takes him home to warm him up.  It's a tale of innocence and poverty and sibling love in Ireland.  Honestly, this is one of the best Christmas stories, right up there with The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry.


7.

If you're feeling extra generous this season, check out Simcha Fischer's list of charities here.  

And here is my mandatory link back to Jen, whose reality show I missed because I had to endure yet another Christmas concert at school.  Best part about this year's production, St. Joseph Nose Picker.  Close runner up is the split second we might have seen Edmund's ear as he sung his little heart out in the back row.  Back row without risers, I might add.  Third year in a row I couldn't see my own kid.  Bah humbug. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Last Year's Advent Post Recycled

Last year, I wrote a lengthy post about our Christmas books, secular and religious.

Rather than re-write that bad boy, I'm just going to link to it, again and again, and add a little post-script.

That's Not My Donkey by Fiona Watts never went in the tub or to the basement.  It stayed in action the whole year through.  Ask Baby J, "What does the donkey say?"  and she will reply, "Who-Hee."  It's a work in progress, but she looooves that book.


Also, I wrote about this book in my poetry post here, but I cannot say enough about Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers.  If you add one book to your winter library, this is the one to get.

In other news, my dear friends at the public library are probably muttering my name under the breath with other words that are not very nice because I went requested nearly every book that the other Jessica, at Shower of Roses has in her sidebar and in her St. Nicholas post that I didn't already own.  All or nothing.  The War Game book looks very promising.  I have to go clean off the holds shelf now or they may revoke my card.

Friday, December 7, 2012

7 Quick Takes - Feast of St. Ambrose

1.



I am loving this Advent playlist.  Because I am a Spotify noob, I went and bought all the songs on iTunes, and I couldn't always find the exact ones.  Some alternate versions that I am really liking are the The Barra MacNeils version of O' Come Divine Messiah, very Irish, Sting's Gabriel's Message, and People Look East by Al Petteway & Amy White, lovely guitar.

I'm going to order that Advent at Ephesus cd from the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, and I'm probably going to order copies for the 'rents for Christmas so step off, siblings!  But as the Chef recommended, I'm going to order from the Sisters' website, not some mega-store.

2.


One more week until  HOBBITSES! Then I will have to stop using them as one of seven quick takes every.single.week.

Didn't get enough of me last week, didja?


3.  



I bought the Snowflake Card Holder from Pottery Barn, and it is working out quite nicely.  Sure beats the basket of cards that got dumped out interminable times. You can see more of my pathetic attempts at photog on the Twitter and the Instagram.  See the cute little pink buttons in my sidebar for more info.  Also, I am really liking the #adventphotoaday on the Twitter.  Great idea, Beth Anne!


4.


The Chef went to a White Elephant Book Exchange/Christmas Party Luncheon at the Word on Fire office this week.  Someone was less than pleased to go home with our mint edition of  King Size Towel Origami, that came in a Rainy Day Girl Basket we had won at a recent school fundraiser.  Why Towel Origami is considered Rainy Day Fun is beyond me.  Why the folks at Word on Fire went out and purchased quality books for a White Elephant is beyond me as well.  Sorry, Jack.  *not really sorry*

5.



Did you miss my giveaway post on Wednesday?  Then why didn't you enter?  Don't need a diaper cake?  If you win, you could always donate the gift certificate or a diaper cake to your local crisis pregnancy center.  These diaper cakes are seriously cute.  All you have to do to enter is comment here before next Friday.  Easy, peasy.  

6.  



Having a hard time shopping for the dudes in your life?   Hallie gathered gift guides for your man.  And there's also this list of 50 Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Men who are like Ron Swanson

7.

I'd like to ask everyone to say a prayer for childless couples this Advent.  I think Christmas is especially hard for folks who want nothing more than stockings hung by the chimney with care, whose hearts are wide open, but whose arms are empty.  Just offer up a stinky diaper, or a middle of the night hazmat event for the people who would love to be in your shoes.


Thank you.  That is all.

Go see Jen for more fun that is funny.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Diaper Cake $25 Giveaway!!!


When Liz of ediapercakes.com asked if I would like to host a giveaway on my blog to promote her home-based business, of course I said yes, because Princess Kate is expecting!

And so is my sister (her seventh), my sister-in-law (her fifth), my friend Sara (her seventh), one of the ladies who helped pack the Jesse Tree ornaments (not sure if it's public yet, but her fourth), assorted cousins and cousins-in-law, and Our Lady (her first, to be born in a stable, but she doesn't know that part yet, or does she?).



Mothers of many children know that at some point, you can receive too many baby gifts that are newborn sized clothing.  Diaper cakes are adorable and practical.  Perfect for shower centerpieces, or new baby gifts, these diaper cakes are made out of Pampers Swaddlers size ones.

Even my friends who cloth diaper admit to using disposable those first several weeks, especially at night, or when traveling. 

Diaper cakes are the perfect gift for the baby whose gender is a surprise.  Often these babies are showered with yellow and green layettes.  My jaundiced newborns never look good in yellow or green.


My friends in Texas and other parts of the South tell me that they get a shower with every birth.  After the first birth, they get showered with diapers.  What a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of every child in a family!




What I love about these diaper cakes is that they often come with classic books!  Goodnight Moon, Pat the Bunny, and Peter Rabbit are all standbys in this house.  Like diapers, you can never have too many books.




Plus, when you shop from ediapercakes.com you know you are supporting a small business, started by a mom whose baby just turned one.  Happy Birthday Lily!  Liz started this company so she could spend more time at her important job, taking care of Lily.

How to play:  Simply visit the website and see what you like.  Then comment here and share which diaper cake is your fave.  It really helps if you don't comment anonymously.  Please share your email, either in your comment or through your Blogger profile.  If I can't reach the winner via email, I will select another.

Winner receives a $25 gift certificate to ediapercakes.com(I also receive the same for hosting the giveaway.)

The winner will be chosen by random.org on Friday, December 14th.  (Phew, one of seven quick takes, in the bag.)

Picking your favorite will be the hard part, I can't decide between Winnie the Pooh, Turtle, or this one, called Bumblebee.




Would you like more chances to win?  Promote the giveaway by tweeting, Facebook sharing, pinning on Pinterest, or link to this post on your blog.  Comment on this post for each promotion to get up to four extra chances.  I trust you to be honest.  Santa is watching.

May the odds be ever in your favor!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

7 Quick Takes Feast of St. Andrew

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit! 

1.

"Dad made the Drudge Report," said the text from my oldest baby brother.  By the time, I found the skewer to pry open my laptop and convinced the squirrels to run fast enough to reach interweb speed, I missed it.  Or I couldn't find it or something.


I found it very interesting that one of my 100+ cousins had made this her Facebook status that day:

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still."
Exodus 14:14

Hold still, Dad. 

2.

Jesse Tree Swap Update: 

Again?  I know, I know.  It's almost over.

Yesterday, I dropped of 23 boxes at USPS each containing 30 ornaments.  The other 2 ornaments will be arriving shortly, and I have been assured that I can mail these to you in envelopes.

I did not use those gallon size baggies, I realized when I woke up in a cold sweat this morning.  Some of the ornaments are quite small, so PLEASE count out your 30 ornaments before you throw away any packing material.

Bad news:  You won't get your boxes until Monday. Cassandra and the folks in Canada will have to be patient even longer.

Good news:  We were able to use medium flat rate boxes, so you are getting $4 in cash in your box too!  Again, please do not throw away any crumpled newspaper or plastic grocery bags that were used as filler until you find your ornaments and your cash.

3.

I did not print out handouts with the verses, symbols, etc.  slacker.  Rather, I will email the document to you and you can print it up, or not. 

4.

What's with everyone having their homes all decorated, trees lit and everything and it's not even Advent?

The Christmas season doesn't even start until December 24th!

How can you prepare if you have nothing left to prepare?

I just don't get it.  I put away my autumnal leaf and ceramic pumpkins today, because November is over.  But our tree won't be going up for a few weeks, and it will stay up through the Octave of Christmas, at least until the Epiphany has come and gone.

I know some folks keep their Christmas decor up until Candlemas which is February 2nd, but I can't keep a tree alive that long.

5.


Just when you've picked up your rink liner from Wisconsin, you get temps in the 50s.  Freezing temps will come.  They always do.

6.



Doing gift exchanges with friends, co-workers, or relatives?  I highly recommend Elfster.  The website does the draw, keeps it anonymous, and you can keep spouses from getting each other.  This is our second year using Elfster, and I was able to click a box that ensures nobody gets the person they had last year.   

Also, you can make a wishlist and link to items you want, or ask your gift recipient anonymous questions...which can be a lot of fun.

Yes, I ripped this take off my sister's blog.

7.

I heard a lot about this show, but no one mentioned it's set in modern times!  They look like an elf and a hobbit.


I've had so many firsts this week.  My first Bond movie (B+), my first Sherlock episodes (A+), my first Doctor Who episodes (?).  I'm not sure I started in the right place with the Doctor.  I went to Netflix and put on Episode 1 of Season 1, Rose, 2005, Christopher Eccleston.  Did I make an error?  When did David Tennant take over?  What do I do now?  What is that funny black line next to the image below?




Enough trivial drivel.  

Go see Jen for something meatier.
 
Have a blessed Advent!