Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!  On a fripperious note, (yes, just made that word up right now) I like how our Christmas card turned out this year.  Brendan used Photoshop to create our card based on my specs.  He's taking a graphic design class at school, and I finally feel like his education is paying off :).  Yes, it's all about me...

We only had to do one head swap--can you tell which one?  I love that that lush green backdrop is our own backyard.  I feel so blessed to live in such a green and beautiful part of the world.

Speaking of blessings, Christmas always makes me feel such a sense of abundance.  Being with loved ones, keeping meaningful traditions, eating crazy amounts of tasty treats (well, maybe that's not such a great type of abundance ;) ).

We celebrated Christmas Eve by having a dinner with my parents, my uncle and brother.  After dinner, we played a zany musical chairs game while singing "The 12 Days of Christmas".  Then Aaron read Eugene Field's poem "Just 'Fore Christmas" (a tradition in his family and now ours).  The kids acted out the nativity while we read Luke 2, like we do every year.

 Then we sang "Stille Nacht" (Silent Night) as a family to honor our German roots, particularly my paternal Grandmother whose parents both came from Germany and who sang "Stille Nacht" every Christmas when my Dad was a boy.

The history of this world-famous song is lovely.  A pastor of a small town in Austria, Joseph Mohr, was planning Christmas Eve Mass.  He was worried because his church's organ has been damaged by flooding.  He unearthed a poem he had written several years before, and asked a friend of his (Franz Gruber) to set it to music. Gruber was able to write the song and perform it (with guitar accompaniment) that night. The rest is history.

The German hymn has six verses (compared to the English version's three).  It is interesting to see the literal translation of the hymn--the meaning is quite a bit different from the English version we normally sing.

1. Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knab im lockigten Haar,
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!

1. Silent night! Holy night!
All are sleeping, alone and awake
Only the intimate holy pair,
Lovely boy with curly hair,
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!

2. Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Gottes Sohn! O wie lacht
Lieb´ aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da schlägt uns die rettende Stund´.
Jesus in deiner Geburt!
Jesus in deiner Geburt!

2. Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, O how he laughs
Love from your divine mouth,
Then it hits us - the hour of salvation.
Jesus at your birth!
Jesus at your birth!

3. Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Die der Welt Heil gebracht,
Aus des Himmels goldenen Höhn
Uns der Gnaden Fülle läßt seh´n
Jesum in Menschengestalt,
Jesum in Menschengestalt

3. Silent night! Holy night!
Which brought salvation to the world,
From Heaven's golden heights,
Mercy's abundance was made visible to us:
Jesus in human form,
Jesus in human form.

4. Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Wo sich heut alle Macht
Väterlicher Liebe ergoß
Und als Bruder huldvoll umschloß
Jesus die Völker der Welt,
Jesus die Völker der Welt.

4. Silent night! Holy night!
Where on this day all power
of fatherly love poured forth
And like a brother lovingly embraced
Jesus the peoples of the world,
Jesus the peoples of the world.

5. Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Lange schon uns bedacht,
Als der Herr vom Grimme befreit,
In der Väter urgrauer Zeit
Aller Welt Schonung verhieß,
Aller Welt Schonung verhieß.

5. Silent night! Holy night!
Already long ago planned for us,
When the Lord frees from wrath
Since the beginning of ancient times
A salvation promised for the whole world.
A salvation promised for the whole world.

6. Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Alleluja,
Tönt es laut bei Ferne und Nah:
Jesus der Retter ist da!
Jesus der Retter ist da!

6. Silent night! Holy night!
To shepherds it was first made known
By the angel, Alleluia;
Sounding forth loudly far and near:
Jesus the Savior is here!
Jesus the Savior is here!

I am so grateful for the Christmas season--for the chance to glory not only in the abundance of friends and family, gifts and treats, but in the abundance of life that only comes through Jesus Christ.

In case you are like me and can't get enough of great Christmas music, here is a link to a video of the Thomanerchor (St Thomas Boy's Choir) singing "Stille Nacht".

 Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Some Last Minute Fun--It's not too late!

Merry Christmas!  Are you having fun yet? :)

If not, here's an idea that I think is appropriate until New Year's at least.

We made gingerbread houses a few nights ago.  In the past, we've done gingerbread houses the hard way (homemade royal icing and homemade gingerbread pieces) and the easy way (canned frosting and graham crackers).  This year, we tried a hybrid approach that worked really well--homemade icing and graham crackers.

The icing only takes about five minutes to make, but it allows the pieces to stick together sooooo much better than canned or buttercream frosting.

A recipe for it is here or here.

I've found the best way to use the icing is to fill individual sandwich-size ziploc baggies and snip the corner off.  Voila!  Your own icing bag.

I love the feeling of having our whole family in absorbed silence, doing something at the same time.

Usually that only happens when we are eating an especially good meal :).

I bought a few $1 bags of candies, some M&M's and we used up the last of our Halloween candy to decorate these beauties.

So, they turned out something like this.

Kidding, kidding.  This is a picture of a group of gingerbread houses one of my best friend's mom did for the Salt Lake Festival of Trees about five years ago.  She is a gingerbread artist (pronounced (ar-TEEST, in case you're wondering).  So amazing and precise.

This is how ours really turned out.

My house.  I loved my dutch door and rail fence :).

Damon--a demented but proud decorator.

Sawyer, who was so excited he was in constant motion (even as I tried to snap his picture).

Lukas, who made me take about 7 pictures of his house, to capture the different angles.

Sophie, whose house was probably the most detailed, and who totally hogged the red and green M&M's :).

Brendan's was probably the most architecturally correct, complete with chimney, etc.

Maybe next year I'll make real gingerbread again*.  But I have to say that spending only 10 minutes (rather than 2 hours) for my family to have an hour and 1/2 of fun together is a pretty good trade-off.  

What about you?  Have you made gingerbread houses this year?

*Or, I might buy the ones at IKEA--I saw them there the day after we made ours.  $3.99 for a whole house of gingerbread pieces (not including candy and icing, which I like to buy myself anyway).

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Favorite Things 2011

favorite things 2011 button

Posting at Melissa's "Favorite Things" party last year was one of my first posts ever.  After a year of blogging, it's exciting to be doing another favorites post.  I feel so worldly-wise and experienced now... (not too worldly-wise to still be a wholesome role model to my six children--don't worry ;) ).

Anyway, here are some of my favorite things that I've discovered this year.  Rest assured that I am well-versed in what's fundamental about life--aware that the best things in life aren't things, etc., etc., but let's face it--there are consumerist things that nonetheless bring a smile to your face and make life easier and better.

Those are the kinds of fripperies my list is all about.

So, with no further ado:

1.  I love Burt's Bees Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Creme. 

It not only nourishes my winter-ravaged hands, but it smells like an Almond Croissant--another of my favorites.  Mmmmmmmm.  Also, it is the perfect size to fit in my cup holder in my car so I can slather some on at a stoplight when I'm driving my kids around.  For some reason, my dry hands seem to bug me the most when I'm driving.  Or maybe I just don't stop long enough to pay attention until I'm staring at my fingers gripped around my steering wheel...
Burt's Bees Beeswax Hand Creme, Almond Milk, 2 oz.

2.  Taco Time drinks and ice.

The Taco Times near where I live have Coca Cola Freestyle machines, which basically allow you to have up to 100 different soda flavor options.  Plus, their ice is the perfect ice--easily crunchable without being too small and meltable.  My favorite is a raspberry Sprite with extra ice.

3.  The Goodwill.

I really, really love the Goodwill.  My most recent finds were brand-new tartan fleece Gap kids slippers for my little boys for $2 each.  Last month, I scored gorgeous almost-new black leather knee-high riding boots for me for just $20.  Whenever we  need something, I check there first.  80% of my clothes and my kids' clothes come from thrift stores--and I think we dress pretty well most days :).  The only downside is that I think I may have ruined my children's enjoyment of shopping retail forever.  We all have a hard time paying mall prices after shopping at thrift stores so much.

4.  I already blogged about Joe-joe's here, but they are still a favorite.
I am not an Oreo's lover, but I love these.  That Candy Cane Joe-Joe's are only available seasonally makes them all the more desirable somehow.  I dipped them in chocolate for a fairly low-fuss offering at a cookie exchange last week, and they were a total hit.  I think Santa might give our kids extra presents if we put these out this Christmas :).

5.  Ulta is my new favorite place to shop for beauty products.

They actually have the full line of all the drugstore products (like my favorite cleanser, Neutrogena's Pore Refining Cleanser, which Walgreens has inexplicably stopped carrying).  Their salespeople are really knowledgeable, too.  You leave feeling like you got department store pampering and attention for drugstore prices.  I will need to not go there too often, since I really like nice beauty products.  Sigh.  It is a weakness...

5a.  Neutrogena's Pore Refining Cleanser.

I have larger/large-ish pores on my nose, and this cleanser keeps them clear and makes them look smaller.  I use it at night and in the morning.  My 16-year-old son uses it, too and he has really nice skin (especially for a 16-year-old boy).
Neutrogena Pore Refining Cleanser

6.  My Microplane Grater/Zester

 I love all things lemon, lime and orange.  However, I used to dread making anything with citrus peel or zest, or just omit it from recipes entirely, because it was such a pain.   It would take forever to get the 2 or so teaspoons of peel, and I ended up having to chink out the last bits of peel from my grater with a toothpick because it would stick mercilessly.  No more!  I just made a double batch of lemon bars, and I grated all the lemon peel in maybe 3 minutes.  The peel comes right off with a gentle tap on the side of your bowl.  Hot dog!  It is super, super sharp, though, so you have to keep the included cover on when not in use and store it somewhere little prying fingers can't touch it.

Thanks for visiting and letting me share my favorites with you!  I hope you'll stop by Fundamentals and Fripperies again sometime soon!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Guest Post at Choose to Thrive

Exciting news!  Today I am guest posting at Nike's Choose to Thrive.  I feel so cool and grown-up somehow :).  I'm showcasing fabric gift bags for Christmas, and they are awesome (sorry so un-humble, but it's not good to lie, is it?).

Anyway, if you haven't seen Nike's (pronounced Neeka) blog before, I highly recommend it.  She is a real blogger (as opposed to me, a pretend blogger), specializing in making and doing amazing things (crafts, clothing for her kids, decorating) for practically nothing.  Her mantra is "Rock what ya got" and she does that so, so well.  We share a lot of commonalities as well: Washington and Utah backgrounds, wry, slightly self-depreciating senses of humor and we have a dirty dozen kids between us.  In short, I just think she's pretty awesome.  I hope you enjoy her as much as I do!