Thursday, December 23, 2010

Waiting For Christmas

Miss Kitty instructed her staff to place
her chair cushion on the table --

That way she would be much more comfortable
as she waited for Christmas to arrive. 

Peering out on the frost-biting day, she finally...

found the best spot.

And while Missy tended to her post,
Mom and I happily tended ours as we worked
on our last day preparations before the arrival of Christmas Eve --

which to me is the most beautiful day of the year.

Wishing you lots of JOY...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

'Twas In the Moon of Wintertime...

The moon has been so beautiful these past few days.  I just love how it casts its soft light over the neighborhood, creating interesting shadows in our backyard... even in the middle of the night! 

As I took this photo early the other morning, I was reminded of that old Christmas carol, The Huron Carol. Falling in love with the piece when I first learned it in Grade 5 or 6, I have never forgotten its haunting melody and beautiful words.

Here is Gabriele Lynch to sing it...

'Twas in the Moon of winter-time
When all the birds had flown
That Mighty Gitchi Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead

Before their light the stars grew dim
And wandering hunter heard the hymn:
'Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born
in excelsis gloria.'


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gift In The Mail

Something very special arrived in the mail yesterday from my very creative and talented friend, Katherine, at Sew Me Something Good.

That we are fellow Albertans is one thread that connects our hearts. We met on-line shortly after I started blogging. I keep returning to her site because I LOVE seeing what delightful thing she is working on next.

It turns out she's the crafts-woman I'd like to be, but don't really have the patience for; I'm much better at knitting together words than yarn. I am greatly content to admire and delight in seeing those beautiful projects she shares online for her readers.
Back to the surprise... here is what arrived in the mail via express-post:

   Wrapped in tissue and a pretty pink bow with a noted tucked inside...

A cute fabric graphic sewn to a paper card
with a lovely handwritten note...

 The cutest little bag -- a change purse...

 stitched with me in mind!

 Not only did I find the little quilted bag,
but a fragrant handcrafted soap...

that is destined to dwell in the
dresser drawer with my pretties.

Katherine, you delighted me to the core with your thoughtful and gracious gift! What a start to Christmas!

Now, that's why I LOVE blogging -- I have 'met' so many beautiful people and my life has been enriched for it.

Wishing you beauty in your own mailbox,


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Some Wintry Favourites

"Oh the weather outside is frightful."

Today we're having a real snow day. It's stormy and blustery and cold. Brrrrr. But, wait, that means it's a perfect day to enjoy a few of my winter favourite things.

Doing things like....

Making homemade soup like Luscious Lemon Chicken Soup

Wrapping Christmas parcels with bright paper and ribbons

Letting a purring kitty cat curl up in my lap or play with the ribbons

Hunkering deep into my comfy chair by the fireplace

Reading something light and cozy

Shoveling some snow off the driveway

Experiencing that exhilarating tingle on my face, fingers, and toes

Keeping twinkle lights on ALL day ... and to heck with energy bills
Visiting my dear blogging friends

All in all, it's a great day to thrill at being alive....
Wishing you some of your own winter-y favourites!

A warm hug,

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It Smells Like Christmas

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas,
everywhere you go...

Peppermint candy canes
Sweet marshmallows melted into hot chocolate
Cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg

Wood smoke wafting in the air on a frosty evening
Crushed pine needles
Wet woolly mittens on the heat register

Sugar cookies baking in the oven
Fresh cranberries turning into to sauce
Apple cider on the stove  

Wishing you the pleasure of simple joys today!


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Create Your Own Way

"Creativity is inventing, experimenting, taking risks,
breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun."
~ Mary Lou Cook

Joy often comes when we become so absorbed in creating something new that we forget about everything else. Children know how to do that well. In fact, I'm reminded of something author Brenda Ueland once said about the process of writing. The creative act of writing should not be like a mountain top experience, but rather like a child stringing beads in kindergarten -- happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another.

Is there anything in this list that captivates your imagination to do something new today? And become as happily absorbed in it as a child?
~ paint ~ putter ~ puzzle ~
~ glue ~ sprinkle ~ bead ~
~ waltz ~ strum ~ skate ~

~ sing ~ color ~ wrap ~
~ stitch ~ compose ~ play ~
~ eat ~ sip ~ bake ~

~ ponder ~ draw ~ design ~
~ craft ~ sculpt ~ write ~
~ decorate ~ read ~ dream ~ 

Today, I'm happily puttering, baking fruitcake,
and sipping hot apple cider! And you?



Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Fun Christmas Questions

Join me in the fun of deciding which you prefer when it comes to Christmas favourites.

1. Hot Chocolate or apple cider? Hot Chocolate topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings!

2. Turkey or Ham? Turkey with Mom's stuffing (lots of it).

3. Do you get a fake or real-you-cut-it-yourself Christmas tree? It's a real fake one (ha ha).

4. Decorations on the outside of your house? Lights on the house, a wreath on the door, red bows on trellises.

5. Snowball fights or sleddin’? Sleddin' (although it's been a while since I've done that. Snowball fights were a menace to glasses).

6. Do you enjoy going downtown shopping? I used to enjoy downtown shopping -- loved the festive ambiance. Don't often go there now.

7. Favorite Christmas song? That's too hard to narrow down; it depends what grabs my heart and fancy on a particular year. Sacred: Joy to the World; Secular: Sleigh Ride would be right up there.

8. How do you feel about Christmas movies? I like them - love The Bishop's Wife, the old Bing Cosby ones (White Christmas, Going My Way, Bells of St. Mary), While You Were Sleeping, You've Got Mail. I also enjoy movies that add to the ambiance, but aren't necessarily Christmas, e.g. Anne of Green Gables.

9. When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music?
I ask you, is it ever too early? Although I do tend to get in the mood more in the autumn, rarely in spring or summer.

10. Stockings before or after presents? After presents.

11. Go to someone else’s house or they come to you? My house this year.

12. Do you read the Christmas Story? If so when? I love the Christmas Story from Luke 2, King James Version (what I grew up on). I love to read and ponder, like Mary, throughout December.

13. What do you do after presents and dinner? Sit around and visit, snooze, play games, nibble.

14. What is your favorite holiday smell? The spicy smells of cinnamon and cloves; the turkey cooking on Christmas Day

15. Ice skating or walking around the mall? Walking, but I enjoy watching the skaters.

16. Do you open a present or presents on Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas day? Our family tradition until siblings started getting married (needing to go to in-laws) was to open our presents on Christmas Eve, but now we wait until Christmas Day.

17. Favorite Christmas memory? As a young child, sitting in the darkened living room on a quiet evening watching the tree lights while my mom made supper in the kitchen. I felt cozy and safe.

18. Favorite part about winter? Snow, short days and early twilights, that Christmas is in the middle of it!

19. Ever been kissed under mistletoe? Haven't put any up lately, but I think so (unless it was in my dreams).

Isn't it fun to think about Christmas... I LOVE it!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Just Hear Those Sleigh Bells Jingling

Of all the fun things! You may recall a few days ago when I posted this Christmas-y banner on my blog page, I mentioned that it was from the photo cover of an old album (yes, an LP record) that has been in our family almost five decades.

Well loved and well used, you can only imagine how well scratched it was by now too! The well-scratched part probably wasn't a result of little sis and I playing it over and over, as we'd pull it up to the top of the stacking pole, put the arm in place, flick the little switch to get the turntable going. Plop... and that album would be spinning another round of carols and festive songs.

Our favorite was probably Sleigh Ride, where we'd gallop around the living room, singing lustily along with the choir as they belted out Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring ting, tingaling..... Giddyap, giddyap, let's go to the show, we're riding in a one-horse open sleigh....

So now you can understand my GREAT delight, when after a brief Google search, I found a place online where I can actually purchase a CD version of the album. What fun!

Alas, they didn't have any samples of the album's music available anywhere that I could find, but should you have an interest in looking further, here's the link to:
Christmas Chorale
Performed by the Edward Carrington Chorale
Grand Award Recipient

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling....

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Simply Sunday - Music of Christmas

"And His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace..."
(from the ancient book of Isaiah)

There was a time years ago when I sang in a choir. And the most exciting time of the year was getting ready for the annual Singing Christmas Tree, a popular event in our region that had spanned a couple of decades by the time I'd joined.

Our music director always knew how to create a pleasing, stirring combination of well-loved carols alongside modern pieces composed in honor of the Christ Child.

One such 20th century piece composed by Rodger Strader came from a Christmas musical entitled King of Love. "It's beautiful words, music and narration combined with the glorious orchestral arrangements by Bob Krogstad have made this a timeless Christmas classic."

From that musical, I forever fell in love with the piece entitled Wonderful Name. We'd sung it many times, yet it always touched me at the core. From the first words, "Mary was the first to hear it, name from heaven above..." to the last note, I'd have such an anticipation. It felt like I wanted to burst with love, with joy, with exuberant praise.

I didn't think of it at the time, but people have honored this Name for centuries and there I was, having my opportunity to join my voice to theirs. You can well imagine, then, my great delight to discover the song online.

On this second Sunday of Advent, I offer it to you as my gift, with the hope that you will also experience its beauty. I give you Wonderful Name.

Happy Day,

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Advent 2010: Restoring the Joy

I am all excited as the Christmas season approaches this year!

But I do realize that sometimes it's harder to get in the Christmas spirit, especially when Life seems to load us down with problems and circumstances that hardly bear thinking about. And if the demands on our time, energy and pocketbooks are already heavy, at this time of year with all its expectations, it weighs even heavier.

As my dear mom used to say when one more thing would go wrong, "Sometimes it's enough to take the joy right out of living!"

So... if your life is feeling as heavy as a fruitcake and your joy seems as far flung as the star of Bethlehem, I invite you to stop by HERE every day this month as I'll be sharing a few thoughts and tips that I find helpful in restoring my own joy when it gets a bit thin on top.

It will be a little like opening a new window on an advent calendar. And of course, it's my hope that when you 'open' that window you'll find something that puts a lightness in your step, a twinkle in your eye, and the  joy back in your heart.

Wishing you J-O-Y to your world!


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

December 1st...

It's the first of December and here are a few first thoughts as we start the season in earnest:
The day started out... with skies all pearly gray, Miss Kitty curled in a ball beside me, and me savoring a cup of freshly brewed coffee and toasted fruit bread topped with cheddar cheese.

The banner at the top... is one of my favorite pictures of Christmas. It's the record album cover of our family's first Christmas album (back from the early sixties). As a young child, I loved looking at that picture and daydreaming as I listened to the singers warble tunes and words of old carols not yet familiar. (Postscript: If the banner is no longer there, click here for a look.

At Christmas, I like to... attend at least one concert where I can hear some of the beautiful carols and music of the season. Sometimes it's Handel's Messiah or Bach's Christmas Oratorio, and sometimes it's a community concert.

My favourite character in the Nativity story is... Mary. I have often marveled at her great courage to say to the angel, Gabriel, after he'd told her she would become the mother of Jesus, "Be it unto me according to your word." Such trust and, as I say, courage.

One favourite Christmas memory... It's just days before Christmas; the air outside is frostier than an A&W Root Beer mug, and inside the welcome breath of warm air rises from the old coal furnace.

Mom is making supper in the kitchen. Otherwise it's quiet in our little farmhouse and, for the moment, this little girl is sitting perfectly content in the peaceful ambiance of our front room. Feeling safe and cozy, the world looks beautiful from where I sit in the very center of the couch -- gazing at the ribbons of tinsel shimmering in the glow of a single strand of round sugar-glass tree lights.

In this contemplative mood... I think about the pictures I've been studying on holiday greeting cards -- artists' renditions of little towns of Bethlehem with midnight skies and light streaming from tiny earthen windows. I muse about the shepherds who were the first to hear angels heralding good tidings. And, of course, I wonder about the Baby Jesus and envision him asleep in a manger where cows and sheep eat.

It turns out that all these years later, I still love to sit perfectly still in the cozy darkness of night with just those little tree lights twinkling... ponderin', dreamin', and delightin' in all the wonder of this time of year.

Let the countdown begin in earnest...