Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Alphabet Advent - Z is for...

Z-12-cap zzzzzzzzz

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Merry Christmas! Thank you for following my Christmas series. Your comments and support have been inspiring. I hope that you are able to feel the love of your Savior today and find ways to serve and honor Him through the new year. Lastly, I hope that after all the wonderful celebrations, you are able to sleep in heavenly peace.
With love,

Monday, December 24, 2012

Alphabet Advent - Y is for…

Y-6-cap ule Log

yule log /yul lɔg/noun1. a large log traditionally burned in the fireplace on Christmas Eve.
2. a log-shaped chocolate cake eaten at Christmas.

Martha Stewart’s directions for buche de Noel

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Alphabet Advent - X is for


ριστός or ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ – Christos in Greek


In Greek the letter CHI (X) starts the name of Christ. The X has been incorporated into symbols of Christ since early Christianity.

Labarum or Chi-Rio

The Chi-Rio was used by Constantine as a military standard in the early fourth century. The symbol is composed of the first two letter of Christ in Greek.
Coin of Magnentius with large Chi-Rho at ecliptic angles and including the Alpha and Omega.

IX  Monogram

This symbol is formed from the initials of Jesus Christ in Greek: IHCOYC XPICTOC. It is found on sarcophaguses as early as the end of the third century.

Sarcophagus in Constantinople, circa 400

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Alphabet Advent – T is for…

T-10-cap imeout

Happy Advent Season
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Everyone needs a moment to step back and take some time to themselves. With the traditions that need organizing, the gifts that need to be wrapped, the cookies that need to be baked and delivered, the tree that needs tending, and so forth, I find it imperative to have a self mandated timeout.
Instead of setting the timer for 31 minutes and sitting on a chair in the kitchen, I enjoy listening to some guided imagery. I can put my feet up, snap in my headphones, and take a vacation to a land of relaxation and dopamine release.
Here are some links to free guided imagery and relaxation tracts for you to enjoy:
From Belleruth Naparstek with Kaiser Permanente: kp.org/listen
From the Counseling and Career Center at Brigham Young University
How do you relax during the holiday season?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Alphabet Advent – S is for…

S-9-cap pider

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My mom makes Christmas stockings for everyone who joins our family. The Christmas before my niece was born, several of us gathered together to participate. I don’t have much patience for most crafts, so I left the beading to my mom and sisters. I was asked to sort through beads and sequins to help speed along the process. I found all the spider sequins and explained that we needed to add Christmas spiders to the stocking. I was amused. Andrea was not.
The next Christmas, I received a package from Andrea. Inside was a Christmas spider with the following story:
A long time ago in Germany, a mother was busily cleaning for Christmas. The spiders fled to the attic to escape the broom. When the house became quiet the spiders slowly crept downstairs for a peek.
Oh what a beautiful Christmas tree!
In their excitement they scurried up the trunk and out along each branch. They were filled with happiness as they climbed all over the glittering tree. As they climbed, the tree became completely shrouded in their dusty grey spider webs.
When St. Nicholas came with the gifts for the children and saw the tree covered with spider webs, he smiled because saw how happy the spiders were, but he knew how heartbroken the mother would be if she saw the tree covered with the dusty webs.
So he turned the webs to silver and gold. The tree sparkled and shimmered and was even more beautiful than before.
That's why we have tinsel on our tree and every tree should have a Christmas spider in it's branches!
~Author Unknown

For a great tutorial on how to make your own Christmas Spider, please check out Tanya’s tutorial:

DIY Beaded Christmas Spider

She also has a beautiful post where she shares her 2011 collection:

DIY Christmas Spider Inspiration

Monday, December 17, 2012

Alphabet Advent – R is for...

R-12-cap eindeer

Incontri Ravvicinati...
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Did you know that reindeer are the domesticated version of caribou? They are both classified as Rangifer tarandus, but caribou are slightly larger and might eat you for lunch. The reindeer will happily pull your sleigh as you deliver goodies to your neighbors.
Reindeer have some pretty amazing adaptations for surviving the cold weather. They are completely covered in hair from their noses to the bottoms of their feet. The hairy hooves give reindeer excellent traction while navigating the frozen tundra. The wide hooves can also be used for paddling while swimming.
They also have two layers of fur. The first coat is a fine, soft wool that stays close to their skin. The top layer has long, hollow guard hairs that use trapped air to hold in their body heat. In addition to providing insulation, the guard hairs help the reindeer to float when they swim across rivers.
Reindeer also have highly adapted noses. Their noses actually warm the air before it enters their lungs. This adaptation also aids in smelling. When reindeer travel, they travel into the wind so they can pick up scents.
Fun facts via the San Diego Zoo
    • Both male and female reindeer grow long antlers, the only deer species to do so.
    • Some reindeer travel 9 to 40 miles (15 to 65 kilometers) daily in the same area; others migrate 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) twice a year in large herds.
    • In comparison to body size, reindeer have the largest and heaviest antlers of all living deer species.
    • Adult reindeer can swim 4 to 6 miles per hour (6 to 10 kilometers per hour) and can run up to 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour).
    • When reindeer walk, their feet make a loud clicking noise due to a tendon slipping over the foot bone.
I highly recommend scooting over to the San Diego Zoo’s Animal Bytes page on Reindeer (Caribou) because they have a recording of a reindeer calf. Pretty awesome, if you ask me.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Alphabet Advent – Q is for…

Q-11-cap uestions

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions. Here are your answers:
Joanne: We believe Christ was born in the spring. How did we come to celebrate his birth in December?
Daniel: What is the origin of the threat of coal-in-your-stocking that is near-universally dreaded by children the world over?
Nicki: Who decided there should be 12 days of Christmas and why did it stick? Is there something special about 12 days?
Brent: How do you wrap oddly shaped presents?
Andrea and Tamara: What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

Tamara: Hot chocolate or hot eggnog on Christmas morning?

Tamara: What are your top three Christmas smells?

Tamara: What are the benefits of an artificial tree versus a real tree?
Catherine: What is your theory on how Santa fits down the chimney?

The December Calendar
By Cliff Cordes
of Norman’s Printery
We believe Christ was born in the spring. How did we come to celebrate his birth in December?
During the first century of Christianity, Christ’s birthday wasn’t officially celebrated. Some felt as though it would be sacrilegious to celebrate Christ’s birth the same way Herod, Pharaoh, and other pagan gods were celebrated. Birthdays were not deemed by church leaders to be appropriate for the Son of God.
During the second century, various Christian scholars speculated on dates for Christ’s birth. Most dates were around spring; however, their hypothesized dates ranged throughout the entire year.
In the third century, the church began redefining pagan celebrations within Christian terminology. Attempts to change culture had been unsuccessful. In order to invite more men to the knowledge of Christ as their savior, they did their best to substitute Christ for their pagan gods.
The symbol of the celestial sun was associated with Christ, the Son of God; therefore, the decision to select December 25th as the day to honor Jesus’ birth was only natural. The 25th of December already had two Roman festivals related to the sun: natalis solis invicti (the Roman "birth of the unconquered sun"), and the birthday of Mithras, the Iranian "Sun of Righteousness."
In 321 AD, the date was cemented in Western culture. Constantine, who ushered in an era of religious tolerance, declared that Christmas would be celebrated December 25th along with the popular venerable day of the sun.

Frosted Coal
Frosted Coal
by David Hill
What is the origin of the threat of
coal-in-your-stocking that is near-universally
dreaded by children the world over?
The threat of coal in your stocking appears to be of Italian origin with the legend of La Befana. The story is told that La Befana lived a life of sadness. Her only child had died. One evening, while she was busily cleaning her home, two of the Wise Men stopped and asked for directions. She brusquely directed them toward the inns and rejected their invitation to join them, as she had work to do. Later some shepherds came by and a similar interaction occurred. She returned to sweeping the floor. Then she saw the brilliant star through her window and she realized the error of her way. She hastily gathered toys from her lost child and began to search for the Christ child. Sadly, she was unable to find the stable with her Savior. To this day, she continues to search for the Christ child. Along her journey, she sweeps floors and leaves gifts of toys for good children and coal for naughty children.
To this day, Italian children will find a piece of coal candy among their Christmas toys as a reminder that they are not always perfect and are in need of Christ. The idea is that if they had been good all of the time, there would have been an additional toy rather than a lump of coal.
Like many of our Christmas traditions, the story of La Befana has its origins in pagan culture. The Celts would burn wicker puppets to symbolize the end of one year and the beginning of another. The priestess of these ceremonies was a witch woman. This women was transformed into La Befana over time. The coal that she brought was a symbol of fertility connected with sacred bonfires.
La Befana vien di notte
La Befana vien di notte
By Sabrina Pierantozzi
The concept of coal was assimilated into the legend of St. Nicholas with the story of Black Peter. The idea was that St. Nicholas kidnapped the devil and forced him to do good works on Christmas Eve. St. Nicholas would deliver good gifts to children who deserved the presents and Black Peter would leave twigs, sticks and lumps of coal to the children who weren’t given gifts by St. Nicholas. In some stories, the legend doesn’t end with switches and coal, but includes tales of Black Peter kidnapping children and taking them to Spain. The tradition of Black Peter is considered quite racially offensive and has dropped from almost all of our traditional tales of Christmas.
Black Peter
Black Peter or Kampus
by Doug-Buddy
One blogger hypothesized that Santa would leave a coal for those who needed to invest more work before they received pleasant gifts, seeing as coal can become diamond with exertion and time.  (source)

  The Christmas Card 2
The Christmas Card 2
by Andrew Chapman
Who decided there should be 12 days of Christmas and why did it stick? Is there something special about 12 days?Nicki
The twelve days of Christmas are the days from Christmas to Twelfth night, the night before Epiphany.  This Christian feast day is to honor and celebrate the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Eastern Christian churches celebrate the birth of Christ, the visit of the Magi to Bethlehem, all of Jesus’ childhood events, and culminating with his baptism. This feast was set on January 6th early in their history and was first mentioned in writing in 361 by Ammianus Marcellinus. (source)

Crawling out of the Impossible
Crawling out of the Impossible
by Martyn Robertshaw
How do you wrap oddly shaped presents?
The answer: burlap bags. You can make your own or order a personalized “santa bag” from notonthehighstreet.com, but they’re out of stock.
Here’s a homemade version that’s being circulating on Pinterest.
burlap bag gift wrap
It looks like they just stitched along three edges with white thread and tied it with a fabric bow. Simple, classy and inexpensive. Over at Online Fabric Store, they have natural burlap on sale for $1.89 a yard.

Kerst: kinderen in levende kerststal
Kerst: kinderen in levende kerststal
”Christmas: children living nativity scene”
Nationaal Archief of the Netherlands
What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
Tamara and Andrea
Since two people asked this question, I feel justified in giving two answers:

Christmas Eve Program

My family gathers on Christmas Eve to have a devotional. My mother adopted the program: “Come Let Us Adore Him,” from the Family Home Evening Resource Book. It was published in 1997, but my mother remembers using it as a child.

Christmas Chimes

After Christmas dinner, we pull out our pipe chimes and create Christmas carols together. It takes a bit of practice, but by the end of the session we can do basic harmonies with the chimes.
Directions or Purchase Premade
My brother, Brent, can give you some tips on cutting your own pipes. My guess is he would tell you to spend the $54.99 on premade pipe chimes. It’s a lot of work and hands tend to cramp up while cutting that many pipes.

by Robert S. Donovan
Hot chocolate or hot eggnog on Christmas morning?Tamara
Eggnog is my preferred Christmas breakfast drink. However, I do enjoy hot chocolate in the evening.
The eggnog recipe featured on Martha Stewart’s website can be served warm or cold, but please do not keep it warm on the stove unless you would like custard instead.
For hot chocolate, I serve the LDS Home Storage Center’s cocoa powder mixed with milk and a splash of mint syrup or a splash of caramel syrup and a dash of salt.  Several people have asked what gourmet brand I use. I’m not sure if they’re teasing me or if it is really that good.

by Ben Strowbridge
What are your top three Christmas smells?Tamara
Winter's Jewels
Winter’s Jewels
Micky**’s photostream
by Kenneth Moyle
In my world everyone is a pony, and they all eat rainbows, and poop butterflies.
by Diyosa Carter

Christmas Snow
What are the benefits of an artificial tree versus a real tree?
There are several factors to consider when making this decision: the environment, the economy, safety, health and personal preference.
Artificial trees are actually harder on the environment with a very large carbon footprint since they are typically made in China and shipped overseas. Artificial trees are often made from non-biodegradable PVC, so they will be fairly permanent structures in your landfill. On the other hand, 90% of the real Christmas trees in the United States are recycled through “treecycling.” Additionally they are grown with sustainability in mind, and each acre of trees provide enough oxygen for 18 people, daily.
The decision to purchase a real Christmas tree helps the US economy more seeing as they are grown in the United States instead of being manufactured in China. The Christmas tree industry brings in over $500 million annually.
As far as safety, both artificial and real trees are fire hazards. Be sure to practice good sense. Monitor electrical cords for damage. Be sure to keep your live tree well watered, and don’t keep it longer than 4 weeks. Be sure to unplug the tree when leaving your home or when going to sleep.
Many people find that they are allergic to Christmas trees. In fact the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology conducted a study in 2007 because there is significant increase in asthma and sinus complaints in December. They found that live Christmas trees can adversely affect indoor air quality because the often carry microscopic mold spores. However, don’t think you’re out of the woods by getting an artificial tree. They can also trigger allergic reactions considering the amount of dust they attract and some of the materials used to manufacture artificial trees are known to cause sinus irritation.
Finally there is personal preference. Live Christmas trees can be a hassle with their needle dropping, need for water, and gooey sap. Also, artificial trees can be friendlier to family budgets, especially when you buy a tree during an after Christmas sale.
Our family opted to skip the Christmas tree altogether this year. With 10 month old cats who can’t stay out of the ficus tree and air conditioning duct, we didn’t want to deal with a tree that could be tipped over. Besides the cats are convinced that everything is intended to be a cat toy, especially my earrings. I can only imagine what would happen to the shiny, glass ornaments hanging from the tree. Maybe they’ll be calmer next year.
Allergic to the Holidays? via the American Christmas Tree Association
Christmas Trees & Safety via the American Christmas Tree Association
Buying Real vs. Artificial Christmas Trees via Earth 911
Artificial Christmas Trees Can Be A Fire Hazard via CBS Chicago

Stone chimney, brick chimney
Stone chimney, brick chimney
Tim Green
What is your theory on how Santa fits down the chimney?

I think the folks at HowStuffWorks nailed it: science! I would agree that miniaturization technology is the best explanation.
Although no one may ever know for sure just how Santa operates, we at HowStuffWorks have what we think is the most logical explanation for how the big guy might be able to navigate a small space: science, in the form of miniaturization technology. What does this mean? It's actually as simple as it sounds -- Santa could use this technology to actually shrink the size of his body.­
Michael C. LaBarbera, a professor of organismal biology and anatomy and geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, believes that reducing the distance bet­ween molecular bonds could do the trick. There's a lot of empty space between the nucleus of an atom and the electrons surrounding it, so moving everything closer together could potentially decrease the size of an object. The mass of the object stays the same, of course, so that may explain any loud crashes that might come from the fireplace if Santa slipped [source: University of Chicago].
But what about Santa's suit? If he compresses his body to a small enough size to fit through the chimney, wouldn't the suit just crumple into a pile since it isn't a part of him? Santa's suit would need to be threaded with carbon nanotubes. This would allow the suit to compress as Santa himself compresses. His belt would also be equipped with a grappling hook, making his descent into your living room a bit smoother.
If there's no chimney, of course, he could just open your front door and walk right in -- sometimes you have to go low-tech. But a chimney entrance would be preferable since it's the most direct path from the roof to the Christmas tree. Plus, there's the show-off factor -- what else would you expect from a guy who can travel around the world in one night?