Wednesday, December 23, 2009



We are growing Christmas trees this Advent and Christmas. I am amazed at how quickly the grew up out of the soil into something new and lovely!
I'm hoping they'll be big enough by next year to use as our Jesse tree.

May we all grow into a new creation this Christmas, becoming more like our Blessed Mother Mary...bearers of Christ.

We're BACK!

Internet has been down since last Thursday. FINALLY it is back! Last night my husband was able to get it back online. Phew. I was hoping to give up some computer time during the Christmas Season but God had other plans and my gift for Jesus came a little early this year! I'll have to think of another gift to give Him now!! :)
I had the kids wrap up their "gifts" for Jesus which we wrote down and promised to keep during Christmas. E has decided she wants to help mommy with the laundry and cleaning up. I gave her a few suggestions and she clung to these two. A is a little young for this at 2 but he also wants to help clean he said in agreement with his sister. We wrapped them together and placed them in an adorable gift bag we received last year that has a "Happy Birthday Jesus" tag on it. I would have put it under the tree but A likes to open gifts with complete and utter abandonment and no idea that he shouldn't yet...soooo they are hanging on the tree until Christmas Eve when all the gifts get put under the tree.
We've taken down all of our Advent decorations and Advent boxes in preparation for Christmas Eve. The kids helped move the Jesse tree ornaments to a smaller tree (which I thought was too small to be our Jesse tree but is holding up just fine with the Jesse tree ornaments and the O' Antiphon ornaments). They really enjoyed matching the lids to the right numbered box. I think this was a great unplanned math activity! A actually got a few numbers matched correctly too! I was so proud!
I can't believe today is our last Jesse Tree ornament! Time has just flown by this Advent!

Here's a picture of all of us with the tree before we took down the Advent boxes/Jesse tree ornaments:

REJOICE Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel! Tomorrow He will come!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Decorating the Gluten Free Cookies

We finally decorated the cookies today!
What precious memories! I loved decorating cookies with my mom during Advent and Christmas and although this is a simpler method it works great for my toddlers and cuts down on the mess.
I roll out marshmallow fondant (homemade...made from marshmallows, water, and powdered sugar) and have the kids paint their cookies with a drop of corn syrup to attach it. Then they paint the fondant covered cookie with a bit more corn syrup to glue their sprinkles to the fondant. They LOVED dropping sprinkles on their cookies!
Some of the cookies are nativity shapes so they look a little odd, but E really enjoyed decorating her "donkey"! :)
I will, however, be picking sprinkles off of my feet until I sweep the kitchen!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gluten: The Invisible Enemy

My girl's had a rough few weeks and we couldn't pinpoint the issue. UNTIL...
We figured out that Mike's hair gel had wheat starch in it and my deodorant had wheat in it too...Sheesh. Anyhow this is my poem-vent.


Fear. Invisible enemies seem to invade our once sanctuary now danger home.
Where. Invisible. Invisible particles impossible to clean...lurking unknown.

Attack. These attack with hives, red, raised, bumpy, screaming from her skin.




Stress. Coming in waves until all that is left is angst. Protecting her from the invisible.
How to protect from this alien, invisible enemy of food prints.

Gloves. Cream. Medicine. Tears. Blood. My Hands cracking from paranoid washing...washing thrice just in case. In case enemy foodprints hide under already washed fingernails. Washing through the day. Days feeling washed bare.
Barren pain.

Her hands scarred by sleepy scratching. Scratching through dreams. Dreams scratched and sheets dotted with scratch-blood.

Bleeding. Bloody. Flashbacks to new baby blood rushing from IV onto hospital gowns. Mother pain...daughter scars. It was nothing yet everything. She's fine. She's fine but there's blood. Blood on my heart. Helplessness abounds.

Remembering. A heart re-remembers prayers of new mother pain and hope for hers to not be in vain. Still pray-praying that prayer. Not for naught. Let it be eternally fruitful.

Advent of red. How red. I wish-wonder did Mary dream of red blood and wounded son. Did she gaze into her son's baby eyes and see the cross. I gaze at my daughter's hands and try to see. To see beyond the skin to the new life ahead without pain. Remembering. Re-remembering the love pains of my Lord. Treasuring these things because they are gift. Gift of pain.

This cross. Heavy yet not. Heavy but only because of a small soul trying to carry it alone. Here Lord. Here. Please help me remember the light and easy way.

Trust. Trusting that this cross leads us through a mini-calvary and then home to you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rejoice!! Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Recipe!

Gaudete Sunday! Soon He will come! Prepare the way!

I've been promising my 3 year old all week that we'd make cookies this Sunday and make them we did!!

I will post photos once we decorate them but for now here's a recipe. I've been working and working on this recipe to make it taste just right and I think I've finally perfected it. My hubby is pretty picky about tasting things that are allergen free and generally if it isn't chock full of butter and all the things my daughter is allergic to...he won't touch them.

BUT VICTORY TODAY! He tasted one and said that it was great!!! GREAT! That's amazing!

So here's the long awaited recipe!

These are free of gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, coconut, rye, barley, and oats.

Allergen-Free Sugar Cookies

1/2 cup shortening
4 tbsp honey
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp Wilton butter flavor
1 1/2 cups Bobs Redmill Gluten Free flour or another flour blend of choice
1 1/2 cups White Rice Flour
1 tsp xanthum gum
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
4-6 tbsp water (as needed)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine shortening, honey, sugar, vanilla, butter flavoring. Mix dry ingredients in another bowl then add to sugar mixture. Add water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture is pulling from the sides and forming a dough. You may refrigerate it before rolling OR roll immediately between two sheets of wax paper (I prefer this method even after refrigerating). Roll to 1/4 inch thick (the thicker the dough the softer the cookie after baking...thinner ones will be crispier). Cut out cookies with cutters and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until they begin to turn slightly brown at the edges.

For icing:

Use marshmallow fondant cut with the same cutter used for the cookie(attach with cornsyrup or a small amount of icing) OR Wilton's recipe for icing but substitute all shortening, butter flavoring and soymilk/ricemilk. I add a tbsp of corn syrup to the all shortening icing to make it easier to spread/pipe when decorating.

Happy Gaudete Sunday and happy baking!!

Monday, December 07, 2009

St. Nicholas' Feast

Happy 2nd Week of Advent!

We celebrated St. Nicholas Day yesterday and I just had to share the adorable puppet we made for the occasion!


Isn't he cute!

I came up with a way for me to make puppets of the saints without going crazy...HOT GLUE!!!!! I just cut out the pieces and managed to glue gun them together. I took time to stop and stuff as needed. I put an old sock in the inside of the center of his vestments and then glued it down to one side of the red felt. Then I finished stuffing around the sock (not in it) and glued it closed.


Really easy and NO SEWING! Which is better for someone like me without a sewing machine or any skill at such complex fabric or felt construction.

We also made this little ornament to hang on our "Advent Tree". She enjoyed helping glue it with Elmers (which I then reinforced with hot glue).


Hope you had a great 2nd Sunday of Advent!

Advent Blessings!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Fun with Advent Calendars

Well...I have to confess. Last year we did not have an Advent Calendar. SHOCK. I mean, I grew up with one that was an integral part of my Advent experience so I'm quite ashamed to admit that there was not a calendar here. Usually I would buy one at the Catholic book store and open the windows on the picture of the nativity scene, but last year we didn't even have that (of course...we were in the midst of unpacking from moving).

I decided that this year I would make one. My dear hubby and I went back and forth with a few of my ideas I'd gotten from other fellow bloggers online and finally we settled on something that is a variation on different ideas. We are doing boxes...but not in a stationary box (as we have no shelving space/table space for said box) but as ornaments on our barren tree (we decorate it Christmas Eve after the kids are in bed). So here's what we did and how to do it...only a few pics as I've been frantically trying to finish this and didn't take time for many pictures. Most of the ones I took were after the fact!

What you need:
Itty bitty boxes from a craft store (we used stars for 1st, 2nd and 4th weeks and circles for 3rd week)
Acrylic paints (I didn't seal they'll only be out briefly once a year, but you could buy a modge podge or other finish to make it glossy)
String/thin twine or thin elastic to make the ornament loop (Hubby suggested just using ornament hooks but I was concerned about the little guy getting the hooks)
Black marker
an old paper window Advent Calendar for Scripture quotes (or type/copy/print your own)
a nail to poke a hole in the box
Box fillers (stickers/candy)

1) Paint all the boxes/lids and let them dry (I'm laughing b/c I didn't do it this way...but it's the way you SHOULD do We used purple for most of it and pink for Gaudete Sunday through the third week of Advent. You could use any color you like.


2)Poke a single hole in the box where you want the loop to go through. Thread the string through and make a knot to hold it there. You should have a knot inside the box and the string coming out the top in a straight line. Wrap the string around itself and knot it at the top of the box to make a loop. The knot should be close to the box. I accidentally learned how to make a slip knot doing this...a slip knot works well too.

3) Cut out and glue your scripture into the lid of the box for the appropriate day (this can vary...I just used the days as marked on my old calendar)

4) Write (using your marker) the number on the front of the lid AND inside the box.
(Once the box is opened you can leave the lids in a pile and watch the stack grow! Also the unopened boxes stand out counting the days to Christmas!)

5) Fill your box with goodies (we used marshmallows/swedish fish/stickers and the last week we used nativity stickers plus goodies...we'll use the nativity stickers to make a mini nativity that will hang in their room)


6) Hang them on your tree! We started near the bottom...not at the bottom since we're hanging Jesse Tree ornaments on the tree too...but starting with 1 at the bottom moving all the way up to the top is the ideal (following the star!). This Advent there are 26 days and then Christmas Day. So we made 26 boxes numbered 1-26...I also made extras numbered 27 and 28 in case there are more days another Advent. I'm trying to avoid doing this all over again! Can you tell? My hubby mentioned I probably will only ever need 27, but it's good to be prepared. :)


7) You can have a "Christmas Box" which is what we are going to do. I will refill the Christmas box every day of Christmas. Either with a mini present or a goodie/treat. On Epiphany I'll try to do something special related to the Wise Men. If you are patient (unlike me) you could wait and have them stick the Wise Men stickers on the nativity scene on the feast of Epiphany.

I had fun coming up with this! I'm glad that it is easily modified from year to year. Perhaps one year we'll put Jesse Tree symbols IN the boxes or have a mini nativity with the little pieces in each box...the possibilities are endless!

Advent Blessings!

Advent Decorating and Crafting

Advent is in full swing here in our home! It's so much fun and so very exciting to say the least! I love watching my daughter's eyes light up whenever I tell her it's time to do Advent do school...hang her Jesse Tree ornament...or to open the box for the next day of Advent! She's so full of joy and life at this age! I however have been a grumpy gus and have started asking her to remind me to not be! It is working! She tells me :) I am trying hard this Advent to sacrifice here and there through some small deeds. This practice does help me find joy in the midst of the craziness that is caring for my two children on opposite ends of the personality spectrum. Hopefully all of these Advent practices are blessing my children and my home (that is the reason I do them). I share them with you in case they inspire or bless you too! :) AND perhaps I'm teensy bit over-the-moon about ADVENT!!!!

Here's our First Week of Advent Felt board for homeschooling. I decided to focus on one word instead of three. I do mention the other two key words and discuss them briefly, but given all the other things we are doing I'm trying to keep it simple.


This is our Advent Wreath I made to match all of our other decorations. I try to decorate using liturgical colors so pretty much there's a lot of purple ribbon, evergreen-green, and pinecones.


Here's my Advent Angel from Foundations by Karen Hahn. It has a different symbol for every day of December. I love this angel! It says "In your light shall we see light".

I usually don't pull out these Foundations pieces until Christmas but they are so lovely I hate to only have them out for so short a time so I decided it would be okay to have them out with the Advent and then the Christmas decor. They are too beautiful to not have out for both seasons. I draped the purple ribbon across the Christmas angel to signify the season. I will remove it for Christmas and place gold ribbon around the mini christmas tree (not shown) that is next to her.


Here are some other pictures of our decorations:

The ornaments are our Jesse Tree ornaments I'm making out of felt. I decided to do felt since then we can reuse them each year and not have to worry about the littlest one tearing them apart if he takes them off of the tree. It's a little more involved and sometimes I have to GASP sew...but it's working well!

More on Advent Calendars next...

Advent Blessings!