Sunday, December 22, 2013

4th Sunday of Advent

Plus we've had a visitor in our backyard.  He's been driving the dog crazy.  Tup hates this raccoon!  Meanwhile, Paul is looking up the effectiveness of birdshot in either killing or injuring small animals.  He's bound and determined to take care of the raccoon.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Happy Holidays

I have no problem saying "Happy Holidays" to people during this time of the year.  I think it's because I live the liturgical seasons of the year.  Honestly, we are in the season of Advent, we celebrated the feasts of St. Nicholas, St. Ambrose, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and St. Lucy.  We also celebrated Gaudete Sunday.  So, yes, there are a lot of "holy days" in this month and the next.  And we are not stopping there.  We are now celebrating the O Antiphons, there will be 12 days of Christmas, the feast of the Holy Innocents, Mary the Mother of God, and St. Stephen.  Is that enough holy days for you?  So do I get upset when someone doesn't wish me Merry Christmas?  They better not wish me Merry Christmas….YET!!!  I'm not there yet!  I'm taking each holy feast day one day at a time.  So, yes, I began our yearly newsletter with "Happy Holidays" because I'm not just stopping my festal celebrations at Christmas.

In case you were wondering, Paul provoked me!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Catching Up

I've been doing a lot of this lately....

This has to be the yummiest chair for napping I've ever had.  It's perfect for two people to snuggle up on a cold winter day.  I don't even have to coax Nick to nap with me.  This is our afternoon routine right after lunch.  I enjoy it so much that I don't want Winter to end!

Our beastly Beagle has been enjoying the snow.  Today he saw a raccoon in the backyard and went nuts chasing it up a tree and marking his territory all over the backyard.

We had a nice celebration meal for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  I cooked all day making Enchiladas Suizas, Chicken Mole, Menudo, tacos, rice, beans, and bought Mexican sweet bread for dessert.  I invited our associate pastor to dinner.  We enjoyed having him over and he led us in a decade of the Rosary prayed in Spanish.  

cilantro ready to be chopped
I also did a lot of baking last week for our parish bake sale.  I have a go to recipe for holiday bread that I've been making since I was either 12 or 13.  I forget.  It is a Finnish Coffee Braid made with ground Cardamom, braided, baked, and drizzled and decorated with white icing, candied cherries, and silver dragees.

All packaged and ready to be delivered.  I made 12 loaves for the parish and 8 baby loaves
for giving to friends and family.
MNVA sponsored a holiday field trip at the Depot in Minneapolis.  This is a fun venue for ice skating.  The girls were excited to skate at an indoor rink!

The girls also decorated and entered a gingerbread house in a contest held that day.  They didn't win.  First place went to a giant hobbit hole made of gingerbread and frosted green.  It was quite impressive!

Over the weekend, I took a trip to Atlanta for my sister, Nora's, graduation from her Master's program.  It was a relaxing weekend watching tv, sleeping in, and catching up with her.  I needed the break so she was quite accommodating.  This week finds us busy before the holiday break with concerts, projects, and buttoning up school work.  Gabe asked for a Christmas party with his friends so I spent this morning putting together a Christmas table for the food that will be served.  He and his friends will be sledding, decorating cookies, and possibly watching a movie.  He's so excited to be a host for a change.  He couldn't believe I agreed to have the party.  As a result, he's been super cuddly and kind, finishing his homework in a timely manner, and doing his chores.  

We've also been enjoying our Magnificat Advent Companion, the last few ornaments of our Jesse Tree, and starting the O Antiphons.  I get so excited for these last days of Advent, but I have to slow my thoughts and anticipations down to really absorb the richness of the season.  Besides there are 12 days of Christmas to enjoy, relish, bake, and celebrate.  There's no need to rush.....all will be well and as it should be!

Finnish Coffee Braids

2 c. milk
1/4 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 t. salt
1/2 c. lukewarm water
2 pkgs. active dry yeast
1 t. ground cardamom
2 eggs
7-8 c. flour

2 c. powdered sugar
3 T. milk
1 t. vanilla

Scald the milk and pour over butter, sugar, and salt which has been placed in mixing bowl.  Stir to dissolve and cool to lukewarm.  Meanwhile, pour yeast over 1/2 c. lukewarm water and stir to dissolve.  When milk mixture is cooled, mix in yeast, eggs, cardamom, and 2 cups of the flour.  Stir with electric mixer for 2 minutes scraping sides of bowl.  Gradually add in remaining flour and knead with electric mixer for 8-10 minutes until dough is formed and leaves the sides of the bowl.  Turn dough out and place in greased bowl turning once to grease both sides.  Let dough rise for 1 hour until doubled in size.  Punch down dough and divide into 4 parts.  Divide each part into 3 additional parts.  Roll each part into a long rope about 10-12 inches long.  Braid 3 strips together to shape bread.  Tuck ends and allow to rise an additional hour until doubled in size.  Bake loaves at 315 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Drizzle glaze over warm bread.  Decorate with candied cherries and silver dragees.  Makes 4 loaves.

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