Friday, November 30, 2012

Celebrating the Feast of St. Andrew

It was a hit!  Bud had no trouble figuring out what he was suppose to do with those Pretzel Fishing Rods.  (As you can see, he insists on having one for each hand...) He loved his special name day treat!  I can't believe he will be turning one in just a few weeks.  The time has flown by way too quickly!  

On the Feast of St. Andrew

Last year beginning on November 30th, the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, I prayed the St. Andrew Christmas Novena.   If this novena was a traditional nine-day novena, it would end on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th.  However, this novena is actually prayed much longer.  It is prayed throughout all four weeks of Advent!  "It is piously believed that whoever recites the St. Andrew Christmas prayer fifteen times each day from the feast of St. Andrew until Christmas day will obtain the favor requested."

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

You can find a beautiful printable Holy Card with the novena over at JOYfilled Family.   (I just finished printing them out and laminating one for each of us for this year.)

With our little Bud due on Christmas (or New Year's depending on which ultrasound you went by) I prayed for a safe delivery and healthy baby...  This year we are celebrating his very first nameday today!   Yes, even though it wasn't even considered before he was born, we ended up naming Bud after this great saint. We were also so excited to learn that it also happens to be his Godfather's Confirmation name!  (Coincidence?  I don't think so!)

I've been flipping through my cookbooks and looking for ways to celebrate this feast, and have tucked aways a few ideas that I'd like to try someday.  (A heart shaped waffle maker to make Andreasherzen is definitely going on my wish list!) However, this year, we are keeping it simple and going with Mary's Fishers of Men Snack.  It is perfect for our pretzel rod loving little man!  (Update: I posted a few pictures here.)

Happy Feast of St. Andrew! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Preparing for Advent :: O Antiphon Gifts

Ever since our oldest children were very little, we have been implementing an old monastic custom in our home of providing special treats, representing each of the "O Antiphons," on the days leading up to Christmas.  Each night, after our family rosary, we pray the O Antiphon for the day, sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel (which was inspired by this ancient tradition), and then give the children a special treat.    Some years it has been little gifts for the family, some years it is all food related, and some years it is a mix of both.   You can see some of my past posts from 2007-2011 by scrolling through the archives and visiting Catholic Cuisine.

The picture above is from last year, but I have this year's gifts set aside or ordered, and I plan to wrap them soon (in gold wrapping paper for these "Golden Nights"), attaching the various O Antiphon Ornaments from Jesse Tree Treasures to each package.  We'll pull out our O Antiphon House and (since I don't have any plans to deliver a baby this Advent!) I will probably include some extra treats at mealtimes as well.
The Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one - Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia - the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, “Tomorrow, I will come.” So the “O Antiphons” not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.
The O Antiphon Prayers begin on December 17th and end on the 23rd, which is the last Vespers of Advent, since the evening prayer on the 24th is the Vigil of Christmas.  Our family just loves this little tradition, and it is such a fun way to teach the children about these beautiful prayers of the church and also increase their excitement as Christmas gets closer!  Here are the treats that I choose for this year:

.: December 17th :.
O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!

Since the symbol for wisdom is a book, I often choose a new Catholic Book for our family.  This year I happened to run across this beautifully illustrated book at our local Catholic Book Store. I've been saving it for a special occasion and plan to wrap it up for the first of the O Antiphons this year!

In past years we have given the children Around the Year: Once Upon a Time Saints, the beautiful A Catholic Child's Picture Dictionar, Novena: The Power of Prayer, new children's prayer books for Mass, and a craft kit to make Christmas Bookmarks.     

.: December 18th :.
O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!

We usually emphasize the word "house" in this Antiphon, and have made our Gingerbread Houses or Gingerbread Cookies on this night.   We have given the kids a fun new Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter, Gingerbread Houses and Mini Village Kits.  We have also roasted marshmallows over a fire, drawing from the reference to "Moses in the burning bush."

This year I totally am streaching it and giving the kids the Little House on the Prairie DVD.  My husband had bought it for me when it first came out (it was $29 back then and now it's only $4.99!!) and we all enjoyed it so much!  Years ago we lost one of the (two) DVD's and it's just not the same watching only half the movie.   The kids are going to be so excited! 

.: December 19th :.
O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.

I couldn't decide between this set of 12 Red Glitter Poinsettia Ornaments and Miracle of the Poinsettia, so I ended up purchasing both (and wrapping them together) for this year's O Root of Jesse Antiphon gift.

In the past I have purchased our Poinsettia Plant for Christmas, new books including The Legend of the Poinsettia and The Miracle of the First Poinsettia, baked Poinsettia Cupcakes, made recipes with root vegetables including Hearty Beef Stew and Carrot Cake, given the kids Old Fashioned Root Beer Drops or served Root Beer.

.: December 20th :.

O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

Since this is initially a monastic tradition, and on this night, the monk in charge of the wine cellar would provide a special bottle of wine. We usually always serve a special drink with dinner. Sometimes I also serve a Key Lime Pie as well! Last year I purchased a couple key hook rails from Target to use to hang our Rosaries!

This year Charlotte almost talked my into buying this awesome puzzle, but since I had already purchased Key Puzzle/Brainteaser!

.: December 21st :.
O Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!

I love wooden stacking toys!!! And I think the kids do too! ;)  We already have the Rainbow, Fire, Water Waves, Stone Cave, and the Little Flower Wooden Stacker.  Rose will be receiving the Wooden Fairy Tale Village and Bud will be receiving the Stacking Birds for either Christmas or on their birthdays!  When I ran across this set of blocks, I immediately thought it would be a perfect gift for this O Antiphon!

Other past ideas include a surprise trip to town (complete with mugs of Cocoa) to view Christmas Lights,  decorating our own house or tree with Christmas lights, eating "O Dayspring Ice Cream," and adding the Kurt Adler 10-Light Candle with Gold Dish Light Set to our Christmas Tree!

.: December 22nd :.
O King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth!

Earlier this year I finally ordered one of the beautiful sets of Three Kings Gifts! Every Christmas the kids put together a Christmas Play for their Daddy & I, and these will make such a fun and beautiful addition to their usual props!  

Other years we have made Crowns, added a "King" puppet to our puppet collection, baked a Crown Cake and/or Cookies, added the King of the Golden City CD to our collection, and assembled the Three Kings Puzzle.

.: December 23rd :.
O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!

For the last of this year's O Antiphons I ended up purchasing the beautiful 500-Piece Stained Glass Jigsaw Puzzle.

In the past the children have been given special Holy Cards or Coloring Books, including the beautiful Eucharistic Adoration: With Saints And Symbols Of The Eucharist Coloring book, added various Children's Nativity Sets to our collection, made a Chocolate Nativity Scene, and received the Holy Family Puzzle with a lovely embroidered Mass bag from Catholic Embroidery.

And, as I mentioned last year, you can listen to the O Antiphons beautifully chanted in Latin here or purchase the CD An Advent Processions Based on the Great O Antiphons.  And don't forget the quick and easy O Antiphon Chocolate Coins, if you'd like a simple treat for each day!  

Now that I have this checked off my list, it's time to wrap up this year's Advent and Christmas Books!   I'm planning on sneaking in a few new ones (like this brand new Good King Wenceslaus) which I happened to discover (and couldn't resist purchasing) while I was out shopping last Friday!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Little Golden Books Baby Shower

Last night we had a Baby Shower for my dear friend Trina who is due on December 1st with her 8th child!  (Her SIXTH boy in a row, after two girls!)   We had the shower at my friend Kristin's home (the same friend who also hosted Our Little Man's Baby Shower!) and as always she decorated her home as cute as can be!   It was so much fun and I have a ton of pictures to share with you all!

.: Invitations :.

Here is a peek at the invitation I mailed out, minus a few of the details.  Inspired by this invitation, but not having the time for a lot of assembling and wanting more than just a printable to write the details on,  I ended up making my own using this background picture and adding the text that I wanted to include.  I printed them on card stock, adding all the details on the back of the card.

Note to self:  Next time be sure to add "turn over for details" or something along those lines!  Most people didn't turn over the card until someone mentioned it to them.   Also, it's not the best idea to address the envelopes at 2am... You might end up sending someone two invitations, while neglecting to send that same person's daughter and granddaughter their invitation. Whoops!  Thankfully they figured it out, and everyone made it to the shower!

As you can see on the invitation, one of the things we asked our guests to do was "bring a book instead of a card!" Surprisingly, despite the huge collection of books that Trina already has for her (homeschooled) children, she only received one duplicate!   I was going to give her a copy of The Blueberry Pie Elf or One Morning in Maine (my two favorite childhood picture books, which my Dad would always read to us!) but I ended up deciding on a a copy of My Golden Children's Bible - it matched our "Golden" theme after all.

Also, since Trina wasn't in need of any large baby items we decided to collect money to give her for a little house cleaning help!   Her youngest son, who is two, has been in a lower body cast (he broke his femur in October) and it's been a difficult last trimester, to say the least!  (Her little guy should hopefully be getting his cast off this week, and her due date is Saturday!)  

.: Decorations :.

Kristi made the cutest little picture book garland and had picture books everywhere!  She has quite the collection!!!  It all looked so adorable!

.: A Little Golden Books Cake & Cupcakes :.

I made the cake and the cupcakes for the shower.  I posted all the details here:

.: Picture Book Themed Refreshments :.

I loved how Kristi tied in picture books for all the appetizers and drinks!

Only Forks, since the Dish ran away With the Spoon!

Gingerbread Babies

Assorted Cookies

Cheese and Crackers with Blueberries


Pear Cider and Coffee

Hippo Lemonade and Ducky Punch

.: Games :.

I printed out a Children's Book Scramble that I ran across online!  Oh my goodness, what a FUN game!  We ended up having two women tie with 13 correct answers.  How many of the real titles can you figure out?

1. Emerald Yolky Food With Accompanying Pig Product
2. Evening Salutations to the Celestial Orb
3. Soft Cotton Bunny Toy
4. Trifecta of Minute Swine
5. Pretty Girl Slumbering
6. Unsightly Aquatic Bird
7. Which Female Cares for Me?
8. Brunette Furry Mammal, Brunette Furry Mammal, I Ask About Your Observations
9. Locale of the Concrete Walkway's Termination
10. Be Off Canine, Be Off
11. Famished Butterfly Predecessor
12. Fedora Wearing Feline
13. Locale of the Untamed Creatures
14. A Breeze Blowing Through the Salix Trees

We also had everyone write their favorite picture book on a slip of paper and Trina had to try and guess whose was whose as she opened her gifts - with a prize for the first correct guess!  It was so interesting, and I have a few new books that I want to check out!   And everyone that brought diapers or wipes was entered into a raffle for a prize.  (Kristi provided all the prizes, and wrapped them up so CUTE and coordinated with the theme!)

.: Opening Gifts :.

.: Party Favors :.

Kristi made cute little bookmarks for everyone, in addition to decorating bottles of hand sanitizer for everyone to take home as party favors!

.: A Few More Pictures :.

Kristin, Trina and Me :) 

My girls were very excited to be able to attend the shower! 

Please say an extra prayer for a safe delivery and healthy baby!  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Golden Books Baby Shower Cake and Cupcakes!

I haven't had much time for blogging the past couple days, as we have been focusing on getting back to school after Thanksgiving, and getting ready for a book themed Baby Shower that I co-hosted with a friend this evening!!

The older girls and I just got home and I did take lots of pictures to share, but since they are all still in my camera, here are a few pictures of the cake and cupcakes I took earlier today!

Originally I planned on making a homemade cake and cupcakes, but at 7:30 last night, while mixing up the Pumpkin Cupcakes, I realized we were completely out of eggs - even after buying 5 dozen last week!  So I ended up deciding to make things a little easier on myself and headed to Costco for eggs and a pre-made Chocolate Cake!

This morning I made a cute little banner with a couple bamboo skewers, yellow ribbon, a small hole punch, and these printable book covers!

I actually glued two books back to back before cutting them out, to make the banner two sided, and used my small hole punch to add holes for the ribbon. And, being in a hurry, I didn't do the best job centering all the books.  :/

I also ended up making some candy books to add to the cake, using my open book chocolate mold.   (I mixed light blue with a little dark blue candy to match the party colors!)   Have I ever mentioned how much I love candy molds?!  ;)  They are so easy and always add such a cute and personalized touch, even to pre-made cakes!

Using the same printables from Aesthetic Nest I also made cupcake wrappers and toppers.   I just couldn't seem to cut a straight line with my pinking sheers, or any of my other pretty scissors for that matter, so I used my paper cutter and just cut boring straight lines.   (And I've added a square scalloped punch to my wish list!)

Anyways, I was happy with how it all turned out and couldn't wait to share at least a few pictures with you all!   I'm off to try and get some sleep, if it's even possible after all the chocolate and coffee I consumed this evening... Good night and God bless!