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

Saturday, November 30, 2013

~ CHRISTmas Presence: Keep Christ in Christmas 2013 Edition ~

"I’m participating in the KEEP CHRIST in CHRISTMAS Blog Link-Up 2013

sponsored by the Catholic Bloggers Network.

  Be sure to visit as many links as possible,

listed at the bottom of this post.
~ + ~ + ~ + ~
There are certain cues that can help turn our focus away from the busyness of life and the distractions of secular...let's call them "temptations".  Even if you are not prone to the allurements of the "Holiday Season", you could find yourself retreating to the point of missing out on the opportunity to evangelize.  And we are all called to evangelize.  As Catholics, by the very nature of our baptism, we are called to evangelize.  Yes and Amen.

Remember, the New Evangelization.  The USCCB sum it all up, better than I ever could, here

So what are these 'cues'? 

In our church, we see the Liturgical colors change.  From the green (the Holy Ghost,
life, eternal hope)
of the Ordinary Time, to the color of purple (penance
humility, melancholy),
during our season of Advent.    

In my home, I put away the pretty autumn décor and slowly replace with Christmas items...Yes, Christmas.  Although, Christmas does not officially begin until December 25th, I use the Advent season to prepare for the coming of Christ. 

So, out come the nativity scenes, and the Advent Calendars, and the Advent books....
Even the Christmas tree will make its appearance, while we wait to 'light' the tree until Christmas Eve (or during a short reprieve for both Gaudete Sunday and the Mother's Rosary & Cookie Exchange).

Christmas music is limited (sans choir practice in preparation for Christmas) during Advent.

Our Christmas Tree is certainly Keeping Christ in Christmas.  Borrowing from last years post...here are some thoughts on the Christmas Tree:

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 décor. 
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...therefore, it's appropriate to include angels. 

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Angel proclaiming the Good News!

Advent traditions that we love to keep include the Jesse Tree.
Again, borrowing from one of  last years Advent post:

~ Maranatha! ~
~ Come, O Christ the Lord! ~
We used these Advent candles last year. 
I think we can get another 32+ hours of burning out of them. :o)

Several years ago, we switched over to use this ornament-style for our Jesse Tree,
from the
Paper Dali
Hand-made with love...

My children colored, cut and laminated them.  We, then, punched a hole at the top and tied a purple ribbon on.  Then, after the daily reading, we hang the "ornament" on the "tree".

We have tried a variety of Jesse Tree styles over the years...this one stuck.  And so, here we are.

Simple and Sweet

 "I am the Root of Jesse and David's Son, The radiant Star of morning and God's own Light."

Wishing you a very blessed and fruitful Advent Season....as we prepare for His coming.

~ Come, O Christ the Lord! ~

This year, in order to feed this mama's soul, I will visit Jenny's  A Catholic Woman’s Advent Devotional, specifically for women. 

All the while, I make sure to teach, remember and enjoy some of the Feast Days within the Advent season.  For instance (again, borrowing from the archives):
On the vigil of St. Nicholas' feast day...

The girls didn't need to be reminded to put their slippers out by the fireplace.

Conductor...needed reminding. :o)

The slippers were placed by the fireplace...in anticipation of *three golden coins*.

On Dec. 6th - the actual feast day:
After morning Mass, we hurried home to continue our St. Nicholas tradition...


~ Peppermint Hot Chocolate ~

There are so many  wonderful ideas when preparing for the coming of Christ; just remember to keep it simple.  Don't try and do all the Advent ideas, which can be overwhelming.  Use only what works for you and your family as your present situation allows.
I am always grateful for all the wonderful blogs that share their family traditions and activities.  I am also appreciative of the time spent organizing link-ups like the KEEP CHRIST in CHRISTMAS Blog Link-Up. 
It is encouraging and helpful in so many ways.  Please share one of your favorite Advent traditions or activities in the comment box...

One last thought from me (mostly to myself), remember to
Faith, Family, then Fun.  You will find that you will accomplish much more by keeping Christ in the center of whatever you choose as an Advent 'activity'.

Holy Mass
Daily Spiritual readings
Simple Devotions
Choose one.  Nourish, first, your soul...the rest will follow.
Your peace will evangelize to your family, friends and beyond...

Wishing you a very
Hope you get lots of Presence for CHRISTmas! ;o)
Visit the following links to learn more about
Keeping Christ in Christmas and remember to share your favorite below.

Equipping Catholic Families: Keep Christ in Christmas

Coffee Moments with Sam     The Light of Hope
Faith Filled Freebies: Keep Christ in Christmas
Written by the Finger of God: Not Christmas as Usual
On the Way Home:  Keep Christ in Christmas
Sue Elvis Writes: Bring Christ to Others
Canadian Catholic Mom         Keeping The Little Ones Focused: An Advent Link-Up
Mountain of Grace Homeschooling   Keep Christ in Christmas
Em’s Estuary: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Home to 4 Kiddos        Keep Christ in Christmas
Embedded Faith          Boldly Be the Christ in Christmas
City Girl, Country Home         Emmanuel Is With Us. Are we WITH HIM?
Journey to Wisdom: Trusting in your Awkward Fiats
Training Happy Hearts            10 Ways to Celebrate the New Liturgical Year
Designs by Birgit: Elf on a Shelf and Santa Claus
A Slice of Smith Life: How we keep Christ in Christmas
Catholic All Year: Three Reasons I love Advent
Mary the Defender: Christmas The Battle Begins
Truly Rich Mom: Keep Christ in Christmas
Diapers and Drivel: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Raising Soldiers 4 Christ: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Campfires and Cleats How We Keep Christ in Christmas
Homeschooling With Joy        Keeping Christ in Christmas
Mrs Domestic Bliss     Gingerbread Nativity
The Chic Traveller      Keeping Christ in Christmas
California to Korea     Keeping Christ in Christmas
Dominique's Desk       Keeping Christ in Christmas

Linking up to Catholic Bloggers Network
Monthly Link-Up Blitz
~ Homeschooling & Liturgical Calendar ~

~ Tasty Toms ~

My daughters had so much fun making these tasty toms...

and Post Turkey Five Mile Hike with the AHG & their families...

Friday, November 29, 2013

~ Back-Blogged: A Thankful for...Edition ~

With Thanksgiving just behind us, I'm reflecting on the small blessings of life...

Our olive trees gave a bit more than last years harvest.

Our Myers lemon tree just keeps on giving, which allows me to give to others.

The giving tree.  Fresh lemons are expensive...I'm thankful for this tree.

Our new orange tree is now producing lots of delicious fruit.
Thankful for the warm California sun...

I'm thankful for our bishop and his work in our diocese...and the honor of having him to dinner at our home with my family.

Altar Boy Training.  Noon.  My son is leading the boys in the Angelus.

Lunch follows shortly...I'm thankful for hot ('n ready) pizza to help me feed the troops.

Teen Talks.  I began these Teen Talks last year with our first talk on the Cristeros.  A few times a year speakers come to our parish and give a talk to our youth.  Big Blessings...

I'm calling this my mid-centennial extravaganza celebration...

Sweet (& bubbly) gift from my dh,
beautiful floral bouquet,
complete with love note (on fancy paper) :o)


I am thankful for my Husband, my children and most of all,
His Love.

 We give you thanks, Almighty God, for all Your benefits, who live and reign, world without end. Amen. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

~ Thanksgiving Feast & Recipe Links ~

This is a re-post of my new favorite Thanksgiving Recipes:

~ The Thankful Feast ~

We had my husband's extended family, my family and some of our friends from our church for dinner.  Our home was full!  :o)  Nice!!
I cooked for my little family of five.  So I had the luxury of snapping photos; no worries about time constraints and walking around in my pj's all day.  :o)  Nice!!
My husband and I try different recipes for our Thanksgiving Turkey.
Traditionally, we always cook a turkey, but we don't use the same recipe every year.
We may tweak some, but I can't remember ever cooking a turkey using the same recipe twice...not in the 22 years that we have been married.
We came up with the idea of using bacon as a self-baster.  We covered the skin of the turkey with bacon; skewering the bacon to the entire outside of the turkey.  Don't laugh.  It was delicious (but fattening).
I took on A Challenge of making one thing useful/beautiful in the Master Bedroom, and just last week I decided to take a NEW CHALLENGE...to try this new recipe and change my turkey-baking-ways.  I took Stephanie (over at Sweet Boutique), up on her challenge...and then some...I tried (basically) her entire Fabulous Menu.

Words cannot describe and my pictures do not do it justice...
But, Hands down, this was the all time favorite and BEST tasting bird (and Thanksgiving Dinner) in our family history.

I think we have found our tradition.  :o)

I have posted (3 sub-posts) on each of the dishes that I tried, so as not to have such a terribly long post...Here is the Menu:  (click on dish to find pictured posts)

~ Roasted Turkey ~

~ Apple Pie ~

~ Egg Nog & Hot Apple Cider ~

The calm, after the storm
My table decorations were very simple this year.  I used fresh Cuties California Mandarins surrounding a 3-wick candle (which I actually removed to make way for all the food) and placed it on the Lazy Susan.  My topaz harvest linen with burgundy napkins.  Super simple.

~ Thanksgiving Menu: Sweet Potato Crisp ~

Save those marshmallows for your hot chocolate or s'mores.  Once you taste this creamy and sweet potato crisp recipe you will want to make this without the sticky (and messy) "candied" version.

This is what you will need....go ahead an double your shopping list, because this is one dish you are going to want to make again, soon:
2 Sweet Potatoes
4 Tablespoons Butter
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ginger
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon whipping cream
1/4 cup Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon pepper (yes, pepper)

Peel and dice the sweet potatoes, place in pot and fill with water.  Boil until tender.

While the potatoes are cooking, mix the remainder of ingredients together with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. 

Drain and mash the sweet potatoes with a potato masher.

With a hand mixer, mix all the ingredients together until light and fluffy.
Place the sweet potato mixture in a baking dish.

~ The Crisp ~

Mix together:
2 Tablespoons cold butter
3/4 cups pecans
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
If you use a food processor, pulse just a few times.

Place the crisp ingredients on top of the sweet potatoes.

Ready for the oven...

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
For the complete Thanksgiving Menu & Recipes, click HERE.