7QT for a Warm December Day

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1. We are decorated for Christmas.  We wait until Gaudete Sunday, and we are thinking about waiting until the 4th Sunday of Advent next year.  We went to a small Christmas Tree farm nearby and cut our own tree down for $12.  It was so much fun.  It was my first time cutting down a tree as a family.  It is pretty cold in my native Montana this time of year, so we always went out and bought a tree from a lot.  Michaela even helped her daddy carry the tree to the car.

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2. I got to use our brand new Kitchen Aid mixer today for the first time.  It is wonderful!  We have a weekly or bi-weekly game night with some friends of ours from church.  Like us, they really enjoy board games.  Our friends have so many board games that we keep telling them to create a binder like the ones they have at Karaoke bars.  We are going over there for dinner and games tonight. My husband and I are trying to eat better before the food craze that is Christmas in Northern Kentucky (we head there on Christmas Day).  So, with that in mind I made Whole Wheat Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with freshly milled flour our friends had given us.  They are super yummy and the mixer made it so easy.
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3. The older I get, the more I like to make handmade gifts for people.  All of us own so much stuff.  With that in mind, I decided to make homemade chocolate truffles for our friends.  They really are not difficult.  You just have to be patient because the chocolate has a few steps to set up.  I stuck with plain chocolate, but next time I want to make truffles with Bailey’s Irish Cream.
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4. My daughter is growing by leaps and bounds.  I swear she grows in her sleep (and she probably does).  I cannot believe how much she is a little girl now and not a baby.  She is getting quite tall and is even taller than some of the girls who are older than her.  She has been a bottomless pit and is hungry all of the time.  Where does the time go?
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5. There will be no white Christmas in these parts.  It was 65 degrees yesterday and will be near 70 this weekend.  It has been a welcome break from the cold.  I went walking along the river with friends yesterday.  It was the perfect kind of day to soak up sunshine.
6.  We are still in Advent, even as we ramp up for Christmas.  Our anticipation and joy is building.  Some music to remind us to remain in Advent for a few more days.

7. Here is some beauty for your Friday.  In the busyness of this time of year, we must stop and savor the wonder around us.
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7 Quick Takes for this Gray and Occasionally Sunny November Day

Today I am linked up over at Jennifer Fulwiler’s Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes. Join us with your quick takes for the week here:

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1.  My husband and I bought our first home together in May of this year.  We actually ended up in the town where our parish is located (long story as to why we drove 30 minutes to Mass…let’s just say “spirit of Vatican II” and leave it at that).  My husband now commutes every day, but we think that it is worth it.  We have been blessed with even more friendships through our church and have been able to get more involved.  We have become good friends with a family with four girls.  I teach junior high religious ed with the dad/husband.  They are our board game friends.  We have almost made Sunday dinner and games a ritual.  We chat after Mass and then end up planning to play games and have dinner later that day.  It has been a great blessing for us.  When we lived in Boone, NC we had a couple we used to play Settlers of Cataan and pinochle with.  Now we play all kinds of games with our friends from church, including a Star Trek version of Settlers (so awesome!).
2.  I am learning to enjoy reading the same book over and over again to my toddler.  One of my blog readers from CatholicMom.com pointed out that I  need to foster a love of “nonsense” with my child.  I thought about it and decided that she is right.  I used to have a great imagination and I am working on my first novel, so I should be able to read Pinkalicious to my daughter and enjoy it, even if it is not one of my favorite books.  Michaela is even “reading” to herself these days and that makes me so proud.
3.  Conquering my coffee addiction is not going so well (she says while slurping down a peppermint mocha).  Facebook was easy for me, compared to coffee.  I think that some of my readers are misunderstanding my conquering addictions.  Holiness is about letting go of the things we allow to control us, so that we are free to enjoy them in moderation.  Facebook was leading me to sin. Coffee is an addiction, not something that I merely enjoy.  God gave us these gifts as “pleasant inns” to borrow from CS Lewis.  That means we enjoy them, but not allow them to consume us.  If we read the works of the Saints, we will see how they call us to detach from those things that control us, which really means things that replace God in our lives.  Today, I did not do as well as I wanted with the coffee, but I will try again tomorrow and by God’s grace be freed from my addiction, and hopefully some day just be able to enjoy coffee, rather than feel I “need” it.  A priest told me that I needed to do this in Confession recently.   No one “needs” coffee he said.
4. I got to go on an impromptu date with my husband last  night.  My awesome friend Christine (you can check her blog,, Domestic Vocation, out here) agreed to babysit our toddler with 2 hours notice.  We had not been on a date in over two months.  I am sure all of you parents understand.  We had a nice dinner at a cafe downtown.  We even walked down the street holding hands.  Some day that will embarrass our daughter.  I think when  we kiss it already embarrasses her.  There are such similarities between a two year old’s reactions and a teenager’s.
5.  This past week our junior high religious ed class discussed vocations.  Have you talked about vocations with your kids?  The most important thing we discern is where God is calling us to.  Not everyone is called to marriage, even though that is what our society tells us.  We need to encourage vocations to the Priesthood or religious life.  Here are two great videos to share with your kids about vocations.  The first is for young men on the Priesthood and the second is for young women on becoming a sister or nun.

6.  I have a confession to make.  I do not make my pancakes from scratch.  I think about it, but the box of multi-grain pancakes at Kroger is so much easier.  I just add water, and then, whatever I want.  This morning I made sweet potato pancakes with the leftover mashed sweet potatoes from dinner two nights ago.  I followed the directions on the box and then added 3/4 of mashed sweet potato puree, and a dash of cinnamon.  They were so good.  I did not even use syrup.  You can add whatever you want.  One of my favorites is cottage cheese and blueberries.  Give it a try!  Sneak some healthy stuff into those pancakes for picky eaters.
7.  This song is so beautiful.  I hope it blesses you as you go into your weekend. My husband and I saw Casting Crowns in concert when we were dating.  It was a great show.