We're bought our tree last night (I am a staunch supporter of live Christmas trees!), and plan to leave it on the front porch in some water for a little while. We'll take our time setting it up and decorating, with the goal being to finish before my cookie exchange party, a few days before Christmas. I'm going to challenge myself to hold off on turning on the lights (vintage-style c7s!) until Christmas Eve, with the party being the only exception. The tree will still be there all decorated in our dining room, along with various other things around the house...but I want to save the full effect until the end.
When my dad was growing up, his parents sealed off a room of the house and each night after the kids were in bed, they decorated a bit of the room. Finally, on Christmas Eve, the sheets were pulled down, and the grand scene unveiled, to everyone's delight. I always wanted to achieve a little bit of that wonder and awe of the "final reveal" in my own home, so this is how we'll try to do it this year.
Advent update: We've been remembering to do our Jesse Tree and Advent wreath each night, and Sly really enjoys them both. Unfortunately, we don't actually have a Jesse "tree" this year - just the ornaments. I had had a little artificial tabletop tree for years, and was planning to use that. When I went to get it out, though, I couldn't find it in any of the bins. Then I had a faint memory of giving it away to Goodwill last year. Oops. So for now, I just have Sly stick each day's ornament into the center of the Advent wreath. It's good enough. I'll check the after-Christmas sales for something we can use in the future.
My mom got Stella an adorable Christmas nightgown. I used to wear nightgowns all the time as a kid, and I'd forgotten how warm and snuggly they are. Seeing Stella in hers makes me wonder if I should get an adult-sized one to wear (my growing belly is getting too big for most of my pajamas anyways, so I could justify the purchase!).
I thought, "Tom might not be crazy about me wearing an old-fashioned nightgown to bed..." then I thought, "but hey, at least it'd be more feminine than the sweatpants and old running t-shirts I usually sleep in..." and then, "but there's probably a difference between 'feminine' and 'old lady'..." :-)
So I don't know. Would it be totally ridiculous?
It took us over a year to get around to finishing, but we finally re-finished a pretty antique chair we had. A bachelor friend of ours had picked it from someone's trash on one of his many quests for things to burn as firewood. I spotted it in his house, and loved it. I insisted that he should fix it up and make it beautiful again. Instead, he offered it to me, on the promise that I would do that very thing.
It was a major chore to strip all the old finish off. My mother-in-law and I spent hours in their freezing garage (we needed ventilation) last year at Thanksgiving working on it.
|(whose pants am I wearing?)|
I enjoyed John Zmirak's (author of some of my favorite books, "The Bad Catholic's Guides") amusing suggestions for how a non-people person should observe Advent:
- When people say, “Happy Holidays,” respond by saying, “Happy Generic Meaningless Winterfest!” Then explain how the war on Christmas is part of a systematic attack by secularists on all of civil society—culminating in the HHS mandate. Nod solemnly as they back away.
- When someone says “Merry Christmas” even five minutes before sunset on Dec. 24, remind them that “Advent is a season of penance, fasting and prayer, to remind us of the hopeless misery of the human condition that Christ came to rectify—for those who accept Him. But the path is straight, and narrow, and few do travel it.” Then smile and say “But hey, Merry Christmas!”
Sly (age 3) has recently developed some pretty incapacitating fears about being alone on another floor of the house by himself. I'm not sure how it started - if there was a certain incident, or maybe something suggested by a book or in conversation with someone? He refuses to go upstairs to fetch things anymore, and if I just need to run to another floor (we have three floors plus the basement, so this is basically one hundred times a day) for something, he insists on following. It's really frustrating. We've tried talking about it with him calmly and sensitively, the in-laws tried reading him a bunch of books about "not being afraid" (recycled from when Tom's sister had fears of the dark), we've tried being firm with him and commanding him to stay put while we walk away to just use the bathroom...but nothing has helped so far. Most of the time, he breaks into tears at the mere suggestion that he go somewhere on his own. When we ask why he doesn't want to be somewhere alone, he doesn't have an answer. Any ideas how to help him conquer this??
EDIT: This morning, I had us pray to St. George (right now, Sly is very taken with him, and the story of him fighting the dragon) for Sly to have bravery. We'll see what effect this might have over time...
I try to use more natural fats when cooking, such as butter and olive oil. I've read enough about vegetable oils/shortening to at least be motivated to *think* about trying to eliminate them from my cooking. A while back, Tom and I bought a tub of lard to see what we thought of it. I really liked it as a substitute until I noticed that it was processed with the nasty preservatives BHA and BHT (which, I believe, are banned in pretty much most countries besides the US). The main reason I wanted to start cooking with lard was because it's better for you than the hydrogenated oils. But if they're going to add in the preservatives, it's probably pretty much a wash on the health-factor.
It took us a while to track down - we even went to several independent butchers who we'd assumed would have rendered their own lard, but no luck - until we finally found lard you can buy without the preservatives. It was at an expensive organic market, so probably not something we can fit into the budget long-term. I'm thinking of trying to track down some un-rendered pork fat somewhere and just making it myself, because it would likely be cheaper.
Anyways, I highly recommend cooking with lard. I know it sounds gross at first. But it's really just the same as any other fat you cook or bake with. The great part is, it is pretty much flavorless and odorless. So when you fry things in it, the whole house doesn't get that "frying" smell that sticks around for days. And when you eat the food, it still has that pleasant crispiness without tasting oily and heavy.
Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary