advent 2013

For the first time ever, I’m actually on top of Advent this year. In the past I’ve done small things, or parts of things, but this year I really wanted to get organized and have a good plan as we try to foster an atmosphere of building anticipation for the arrival of the Savior, Jesus.

This is probably also the first year Jackson is old enough to really “get it” and Taylor is his little shadow, so it seems like a good year to get it together. 🙂 A lot of the execution for this is going to fall to Kyle this year, since I’ll be recovering from birth here soon. But that works out since he will be off for most of the month on paternity leave – government job for the win! These are the things we are hoping to do throughout the 25 days before Christmas/Advent season.

Advent Wreath

advent centerpiece

Each Sunday before Christmas, we will light a candle on the table (I haven’t made an official wreath yet, but I put the five candles in a group on our dining room table each year) and read a verse:

1. Light the 1st candle.  It represents the HOPE of the promised Messiah.  Isaiah 9:1-3
2. Light the 2nd candle.  It reminds us that the coming Savior will be the Prince of PEACE.  Isaiah 9:6-7
3. Light the 3rd candle.  It reminds us the JOY we may have in Christ. Isaiah 35:1-2, 10
4. Light the 4th candle.  It reminds us that God LOVES us so much that He sent his only Son.  John 3:16
5. Christmas Day – Light the middle candle and the other four. The Savior is come!

Daily Readings

With the littles – Readings from the Jesus Storybook Bible 

For the bigger set – Good News of Great Joy 

Daily Advent Activities – great ideas from friends, this blog and this blog 

I’m using this Tin and Chalkboard Advent calendar from Starbucks this year. It says its not available online, but your local shop should have one. I’ll print out the activity on small pieces of paper and put it in the right numbered tin. Some year I’ll get all fancy and make my own pocket calendar. Or, more realistically, I’ll pay someone to make one for me. 🙂 

1. Make a Christmas countdown chain using the Names of Jesus chain and this poem for the top:
Christmas Day will soon be here and I can hardly wait.
I’ve made this little Christmas chain to help me celebrate.
Each day I will snip one loop from it to help me to remember.
To rejoice of Jesus birthday on the 25th of December!

2. Decorate the tree and the house and unwrap/read two new Christmas books

Christmas tree 3. Open and play with Little People Nativity Set. (This is a GREAT price for the set, even shipped.)
4. Gingerbread house or nativity. Read the Gingerbread Gospel while making.

gingerbread house 5. Watch a Charlie Brown Christmas with popcorn.
6. Pajama surprise – hot cocoa and Christmas light drive.
7. Snowman marshmallow craft (on Christmas Pinterest board)
8. Go caroling at the nursing home.
9. Make a borax snowflake.
10. Make/bake sugar cookie cut-outs.

cookies 11. Decorate cookies.
12. Christmas tree craft – (paper tree/hole punch/tissue paper/hang in window).
13. Hot chocolate with marshmallows and sprinkles w/ breakfast.
14. Bell ringing for Jack and Kyle and indoor dinner picnic by the tree/lights.
15. Reindeer pancakes for breakfast and Christmas Musicale at Fourth Baptist.
16. Unwrap and read two more new books.
17. Birthday Cake (or cupcakes) for Jesus (invite friends for a party?)
18. Buy presents for Toys for Tots or other charity, donate.
19. Service Project: Pack VoM action packs with small group.
20. Christmas music dance party (AM) & watch The Polar Express (PM).
21. Play the “count the snowball game”.
22. Make thumbprint snowmen cornstarch dough ornaments for grandparents.
23. Take cookies to neighbors.
24. Christmas Eve service and maybe new pajamas?
25. JESUS! Christmas morning: read Luke 2, special breakfast and open gifts.

Christmas breakfast

And if we don’t get to everything, no worries. 🙂 It’s far more important to love on the kids than do a million projects, like this wise mama reminds us. I’m not going to spaz out if we miss a day.

The Christmas books we got for this year are:
The Very First Christmas
Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story
Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale
The Nativity
Christmas in the Manger 

That’s about everything, I think! I hope it is helpful for others who might want to create their own list of fun things to build excitement and anticipation for Christmas Day and the arrival of the Christ Child. 🙂 May your Christmas season be merry and bright as you celebrate all the gifts HE has given us, beginning with Himself.

8/52 – behind!

I’m a week behind – egads! I meant to post this on Saturday, but I ended up having a wonderful day out with my man. So here it is, a couple days late. Me in all my 60’s era finery. My wonderful friend Rosanna let me use her pillbox hat, and what you can’t see of the photo is my nude fishnets and awesome vintage black tweed shoes. 🙂 I’ll admit I didn’t take this picture myself. But the alternative is no photo.

channeling the 60's at our party on Friday

We had an awesome time Friday night! I really, really love throwing parties. This was perhaps my favorite to date. Decor, food and drinks came together beautifully and it seemed like everyone enjoyed themselves. Even the men who were bitter about having to dress up. 😉 I love seeing other people have a good time and get satisfaction from having a tiny part in someone’s happiness. Yes, that’s me.

retro fun on a friday night

Last Friday night, we turned our lower level into a swanky lounge with a retro vibe for a fun night of cocktails and conversation with 6 other fabulous couples. We had a blast setting up the lights and putting candles all around – it made for a very fun atmosphere in our otherwise very 2000’s home. 🙂

The attire was 50’s-60’s era, so fedoras and red lipstick abounded. I made classic party fare from that time period: pigs in a blanket, cheese ball with Ritz crackers and the ubiquitous chips and dip. A bundt cake and rainbow jello topped off the evening. A fruity punch or classic cocktails like martini’s and old-fashioned’s were available and Frank Sinatra crooned in the background.

Later in the evening we played the popular TV game show from the 50’s and 60’s: Password. Much hilarity ensued with random conversations as couples tried to pass the word to their partner. I think everyone had a fun time! I sure did as hostess.

the crowd


the handsome couples in their dashing attire – fedoras were not required, but almost every guy showed up with one!

oh Rob. There is truly no one else like you. 🙂

good housekeeping cookbook

this morning I was on a mission to find some fun, kitschy appetizers for our classic cocktail party coming up on Friday. so I looked at my cookbook collection and pulled out the ever trusty 1963 edition of Good Housekeeping’s Cookbook. 🙂 I figured going right to the era I want to emulate would be a winner.

the 1963 edition

But egads! The combinations of flavors and some of the ideas made me a little queasy…for example:

Edam Bowl: With knife, carefully remove small cone from center top of baby Edam. Leaving rind intact, carefully scoop out chunks of cheese. Fill Edam shell with mayonnaise mixed with French dressing, half and half. Insert toothpicks into cheese chunks; arrange around Edam.

Yum! Let’s dip chunks of cheese in mayo/french dressing. EW! That sounds so gross to me.

Does the product “deviled ham” even exist anymore? And what is it? How exactly do you “devil” ham? 🙂

The stuffed celery, crescent roll wrapped cocktail “franks”, and cheese balls sound palatable and will make it onto the menu alongside the classic cocktails and party punch.

But not so much for the liver pate’, the tangy frank spread (a chopped hot dog and cheese spread over french bread slices, broiled), and the cheesy egg dunk.

I am still searching for the perfect sweet finish for the menu – a retro dessert or cake of some kind. If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears! Just please don’t include deviled ham in the ingredient list. 😉