"Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy will." ~ Luke 1:38

Thursday, December 27, 2012

~ Twelve Days of Christmas ~

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real - style
(Is it Thursday already!?)
~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
Every Thursday at Like Mother, Like Daughter



I found these PRETTY place mats on clearance...I just love a good find at a great price.
 There were only two sets (of four) left.  Perfect.

Growing up, I never knew the real meaning behind the Twelve Days of Christmas...I knew the song well, but not the true meaning.  At least, I don't remember if I ever learned the true meaning. 


For each of the Twelve Days of Christmas, my children get to open a small gift...small and practical.
It could be a tooth brush and toothpaste, band-aids, shampoo, or colored Q-tips.    Practical.  My children are authentically thankful to receive these *gifts*. 

It teaches them to be appreciative for ALL that we have.  That we shouldn't take anything for granted.
They are always cheerful and HAPPY to open their gifts...even when they know that the gift will might be modest.  (I will throw in a home-run gift at some point...keeps the anticipation and excitement going).  :o)
We have not always done the twelve gifts, but we have always tried to keep things simple (and non-materialistic).

Let's face it.  We are blessed.  Blessed in so many ways.

It's just a fun tradition that helps to keep us focused on, and continue celebrating, the days of Christmastide.  I probably would not do this if I had a large family...but I can handle my little brood of three.  I also use gift bags (when I can) instead of individually wrapping the items.  I will wrap books in tissue paper and then place in a gift bag...I have re-used our gift bags year after year.
On Christmas Eve, after Mass, the children begin by opening their stockings...

Again, the contents are usually modest:
dental floss, toothbrush, tissue pack, chap-stick, lollipop (which I bought from my friend's daughter's American Heritage Girls fundraiser - win/win), candy cane and a mouthwatering orange

Orange Happiness ~ California Gold
As Little Lamb says:  "Momma, I love how you give us lots of fun things to eat, but then give us the tools to take care of our teeth...it's like giving a party, and then giving a dust pan". 

FUNny Fondant snowmanlady.


While picking up a needed item at the craft store, I saw that the Gingerbread House Kits were on clearance for $5 - I was planning on making some myself...but this was done.  And done is done.  REAL easy for the momma.

A little seismic retro-fit was needed for a couple cracks...California ready!

This kit came with some fondant...and the icing was already set to go.  All the candy was included.  I repeat:  Done is done.

We had so much other baked goodies on hand...that it wasn't an issue when we didn't eat the gingerbread house...well, we tried.  But nothing can compare to home-made gingerbread anything.

Go to Like Mother, Like Daughter to find more contentment!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

~ Christmas Begins with Christ ~

I started this post with the hope of joining the "Keeping Christ In Christmas Carnival" over at Catholic Bloggers Network...maybe next year?!  :o)

The moment we have been waiting and preparing for...

I had also planned to post a few more of our Advent & Christmas traditions.
I'll finish my CHRISTmas post. 
Now that we are officially in Christmastide!  Let the Celebration begin...
I thought, since we call it a CHRISTmas Tree, that we should at least have ornaments that represent CHRIST on our tree.  Sound reasonable?

That would still include all the sweet little ornaments that my children have made over the years...and the thoughtful gifted ones from family and friends. 
At first, I started rotating some of the older and more sentimental ornaments...we've accumulated quite a few ornaments over the past 22 years (and those that we brought to the marriage - so, if you think about it, that's about 96 years of combined accumulation!! yikes).  We've lost some along the way...the count declined some at around the toddler years...no surprise there. 

Over the recent years, we have been collecting Christmas ornaments that are *CHRISTmas* themed...so, no snowman, ballet slippers, reindeer, or mouse ornaments - cute as they are.  We keep those *type* ornaments (that we already own) for sentimental reason, but have really been enjoying finding and adorning our tree with Christ-like ornaments.  Truly helping us to keep Christ in Christmas.

All things CHRISTmas. 

And, since I LOVE angels, and have quite the collection of angel ornaments, they are also included in the tree decor. 
Also, (and more importantly) since God has used good angels, as part of our Messianic history (as messengers and such), and are heavenly creatures - spiritual beings created by God, to serve and adore God and are our guardians;  They, too, have a place on our Christmas tree.  Besides, it was the angel Gabriel that announced the incarnation of our Lord to Mary...therfore, its appropriate to include angels. 
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Angel proclaiming the Good News!
A little history about our current Christmas tree...

First, I LOVE fresh cut trees.  For the first eight or nine years of our marriage, we bought (when we could afford to) fresh cut trees.

Unfortunately, the home that we were living in sustained some floor damage from the *moisture* of the tree.  Huh?

After the first year, I thought that maybe the water from the tree base had overflowed, or spilled (undetected) as I filled it...but that was not the case.

After the second year, and carefully placing a layer of blanket & plastic cover on the floor beneath the tree, and still the damage on our beautiful hardwood floors occurred, it was then that I decided to go *fake*. 
I would miss the delicious smell of pine in my home.  :o(
However, I would not miss the pine needles on the floor, carpet, rugs...  :o)
Lights check.

So I searched and found a tree on clearance, and we have had Old Faithful our fake tree ever since. 
The tree came with lights...good idea at the time.  After several years, the mid-section of the lights died.  So, now we string lights through that section!   (Be none the wiser).

It is safe to say that we have gotten our money's worth; probably saving a small fortune.  And when I yearn for the pine scent permeating throughout my home...I just haul in a branch.  :o)

And place the pine discreetly about my home...
Hope you get lots of Presence for CHRISTmas! ;o)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

~ Sending some Love ~

Maybe you have already seen this request for prayers?   In case you have not, please read below (re-posting from CatholicVote.org; original request from Fr. Luke Suarez's sister, Tabitha) :
God's grace to your days...
~ Valerie

Dear CV Friends,

Imagine being a Catholic priest in Newtown, CT.

Fr. Luke Suarez and Msgr. Robert Weiss serve at St. Rose of Lima parish in the heart of the shattered New England town. CV blogger Tom Crowe personally knows Fr. Luke as he was in seminary with him for a year.

Tom also knows Fr. Luke's sister, who penned the note below.

We send it along and hope you will be moved to act on her suggestion.

- Your Friends at CatholicVote.org

My friends,

All of you, I am sure, have heard so much about the tragedy in Newtown, CT. Many of you have received emails from me about my younger brother, Father Luke Suarez, who is a priest at St. Rose of Lima parish, a Catholic church just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary. He, and his pastor, Monsignor Weiss, arrived at the school within moments of the shooting, and have been caring for the community ever since. The picture I have included was taken at the school.

Father Luke has an impossible task before him. His diocese is without a bishop right now…. Monsignor … is personally devastated by the losses. The parish is very large…. The rectory has received serious threats, and as my brother gave the homily Sunday at the noon mass, the church had to be evacuated by SWAT teams. After experiencing identity theft and online hacking incidents, he had to erase all of his internet accounts. After a weekend of endless media requests, notifications and vigils with heartbroken families, and little sleep, he now has two wakes and two funerals every day, until the fourth Sunday of Advent. Father Luke has not even been ordained two years.

My large family has been trying to send Father Luke our love and support from afar, and one of my brothers was able to visit with him briefly a couple times. All he asks for is prayer.

I have been wracking my brain, trying to think of a way that our beautiful, loving community could tangibly reach out to Father Luke, Monsignor Weiss, and the St. Rose parish, to support them in this most awful of times. I have sent many prayer requests, and I am asking for more prayers again. But I also want to ask everyone to search their hearts, and if the Holy Spirit moves you, please consider sending one of your family’s Christmas cards to the rectory, with a few words of love and encouragement. Here is his address:
Father Luke Suarez
46 Church Hill Road
Newtown, CT 06470

My brother has said over and over again that without the prayer support he is receiving, he could not keep going. And this week is only the beginning. Everyone there is still in shock. Their peaceful home has been desecrated by violence. They will need to live with this sorrow forever.

But in our weakness is His strength. Grace abounds. Can you help me carry him through this time of trial?

On a hopeful note, Father Luke did say that no media coverage has even touched the deep, beautiful awakening of faith that has occurred there. Their tiny church, where my children have received sacraments and where Luke was ordained, has been full of people in prayer without ceasing since this tragedy happened. Love is stronger than death.

Please feel free to share the address with your family, friends, and community. An outpouring of love will sustain these good priests through their impossible ministry–impossible on their own, but possible with God.

I am so grateful to live in this community. We are all so blessed with one another. Every day, I see you all loving one another as Christ loved. Thank you for letting me reach out to you now.

With humble appreciation.

Friday, December 21, 2012

~ Christmas Oblation ~

"Delicate, Ornate, Festive, Beloved - The Christmas Wafer commemorates a custom which is in many centuries old.  Oplatek, from the Latin, "Oblatum" - Holy Bread - is "Our Christmas Oblation"...It is the most unique family celebration in Christendom perpetuated with the full blessing of the Church."

This tradition was introduced to us about seven or eight years ago, by our beloved Pastor.
Gift to our family, from our Pastor

Through this Wafer, or Oplatek, we are reminded of the Holy Nativity.

"We remember that Our Lord Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem - literally, "House of Bread".

"In one custom, a small quantity of hay is placed undeer the table cloth, or on a special plate, covered with a white napkin.  Upon this "manger" are placed Christmas Wafers.  The Christ - Child from the home Nativity scene may be placed there, also.  A brief family Devotion, begins the family festivities of sharing the Blessed Christmas Wafers and the Vigil meal."

Every Christmas year, our pastor shares this Oplatek with his parishioners after every Mass.

"Breaking and sharing the Christmas Wafer in traditional ways, we make an Oblation of best wishes to family and friends, accompanied expression of forgiveness.  Thus we share in harmony and joy in Christ as the Christmas Festival Family of God.  As we continue this blessed tradition or begin a new heritage, our Christmas Holy Wafer help us bring joy and happiness to our hearts and homes, aiding us in joining the Angelic Chorus in their "Te Deum"."
Oplatek ~ Oblatum ~ Holy Bread

Our Christmas Oblation...The Family Service of GRATITUDE before Christmas Eve Supper
"VIGILIA" ~ December 24
Catholic Family Journal Post Edition

Thursday, December 20, 2012

~ Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

round button chicken

Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter


Simple Christmas Decorations around the house...

Little reminders of what we are to be celebrating...

Preparing our hearts...
Still waiting...


Happy, happy, happy!


Pleeeease, I promise to be good....

Privileges have their price...

Breakfast in bed...
Little Lamb's 103 temperature...gone.
More Real...
Every year, ever since I can remember, my grandfather & grandmother have given each of his children and sons/daughter in laws and grandchildren an envelope for Christmas.
In each of the envelopes were crisp new dollar bills...
over the years, and as our families grew
the children (spouses included), grandchildren (spouses included), great grandchildren (spouses included), great-great grandchildren....received these envelopes (and the amount always increased!)
Always crisp new bills.  Not that it matters.
The point being, grandpa and grandma and my dear Aunt who lived and cared for them,
never forgot us.
Even after my grandmother passed away...my grandfather and aunt continued the tradition.
They gave.  Whatever they had, they gave.
Just as Christ gave of Himself...
A few days ago, my father & mother stopped by to deliver these envelopes,
from my dear aunt...on behalf of my grandparents.
Let us never forget the reason that Christ came to us...
Let us not forget CHRISTMAS and its true meaning!
Go to Like Mother, Like Daughter to find more contentment!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

~ Seeing RED and BLACK ~

The Five Tenets of Tae Kwon Do:
Conductor and Butterfly tested last weekend for their

Dear Son and Daughter,
I am so proud of your accomplishments!!!
Your dedication, committment and perseverence are inspiring.

Always remember - whatever you do, give Him the honor and thanks:

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Saturday, December 15, 2012

~ Cookie Exchange Extravaganza ~

How sweet is this?...Super Sweet

Last night was our Home School Group's 17th Annual Cookie Exchange, which a friend organized and I hosted (at my home).  Praying together is part of our gathering. 
Prayers which lift the mind and heart to God.
Prayers which are much needed.
~ The Savory ~
I was able to capture only a few dishes on my camera...
Grape tomatoes, gouda cheese & spanish olives...
hand-made with love by Butterfly and Little Lamb
Spinach & cheese mini-quiche...
not hand-made, but still savory good.
Sweet Potato with Sea Salt

~ Sharing Samples & Recipes ~

remember these?  We decreased the baking time to 8-9 minutes
and increased the chile powder from 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp.
~ The Sweet Swap ~

~ Liquid Refreshments ~
Again, I was not able to capture all the libations drinks

Fresh mint & lemons from the garden...

~ Gifts for moi? ~
Very sweet ladies...surprised me with gifts.  Unexpected. 
Generous Guests ~ Happy Hostess

Green Tea with fresh Jasmine...blooms in hot water.  Fun & enjoyable!

~ Friends & Family Plate or Perpetual Sharing ~
This is a fun and wonderful idea...happy to share! (on the back, I wrote in permanant marker the travels it has made so far...I added our family name and the names of the predecessors.  It will be fun to see where its traveled...who knows, maybe it will come back some year day?

If you would like to organize or host your own cookie Exchange,
here is one method that might help get you started.

Linking up to Sweet Boutique, Super Sweet Saturday...