Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Resolutions? "Not Me!"

photo taken in our front yard in ft. worth, texas on december 24, 2009,
and at kardkorner headquarters, the photo was brought to life by yours truly, with watercolor enhancements and snow-loving characters

Above is a photo I took last Christmas Eve when Fort Worth was generously dusted with one of the prettiest snowfalls I have seen in Texas.  This snow started early afternoon on Christmas Eve and continued throughout the day.  It snowed, and snowed, and snowed- all night long and into Christmas day!  What a beautiful gift!

Can you see the snowman standing up against the tree that our neighbor built?  He and his children worked late into the night on Christmas Eve to complete him.  He looks pretty good, huh?  But I'm not sure what kind of hat he's wearing-kind of looks like a hubcap!

And here's our Husky, Whitey, early in the day when the snow first started to fall.  She's right in her element!  Whitey is a rescue dog-she showed up at our place about 40 miles from Ft. Worth where we have a piece of property near a lake.  And Karo took her in.  We think she could be about 9 or 10 years old-I think we've had her 7 or 8 years now.  A wonderful dog.  Karo calls her Whitey because of her light blue eyes. 

By 9:51pm on Christmas Eve 2009 our Red Tip Photinias were spread-eagle from the snow.  We wondered if they would ever stand up again.  And, yes, they did!  The Cherry Laurel was leaning every which way too.  It took a while for it to recouperate from this event.  Twas a beautiful Christmas, no doubt about it!

***

Yikes!!!  Remember this?  It's Y2K coming into the year 2000!  Do you know that in the 11 years following "The Great Millennium", I've heard no one talk about the chaos this event caused.  I started thinking about it the other day, and, I'm sorry, but I had to laugh!  It's almost as though it never happened.  People were freaked out worrying about major blackouts in the cities-working up survival kits just in case.  Grocery stores were contemplating bringing out the old cash registers so they could continue to ring up groceries and make change, just in case (really, I'm kidding-maybe).  And the banks!  Oh, my goodness-they could still take our deposits, somehow-but how would they get them into our accounts?  Safely?  Just in case!

And, our computer systems!  Wow!  We were building fallout shelters for our computers!  Banks and corporations were worried that the computers couldn't handle the transition of the 2000 event.  And it was feared that if you were using the machine during the moment of the 1999 changeover into 2000, that many systems would think it was the year 1900.  "Back, Back, to the Future!"  In the early days programmers used only 2-digit systems for dates focusing on the last 2 digits-it was cheaper.  And, now, they would possibly have to re-program many systems to accommodate the first 2 digits to read 20 instead of 19.
  Just in case!  This would prove to be quite expensive.  
On New Year's Eve, 1999,  at a party, Karo and I closed our eyes and held our breaths at midnight, waiting for what was predicted to come.  Instead of blackout-nothing, we missed the fireworks, and almost missed the New Year's Kiss!  We got married in September of  2000, after y2k -10 years ago!  We didn't even own a computer, or cell phones at the time.  Now, we even have a DVD player! And I get to make my own Greeting Cards!  We've come a long way since y2k, and so has our nation!  We all made it through Y2K-at work we did back up our files and battened down the hatches.  I have to tell you, I would have been up a creek come January 2, 2000 if my computer was a mess when I got to work.  And I don't think the stock market would have liked it much, either.  It does give us a lot to think about, since so much of our lives revolve around computers and high technology resources.   Cheers to the 21st Century!

***

I don't make New Year's resolutions anymore, because the ones I've made over the span of my adult life are still ongoing.  Why make new ones, when I'm still working on the old ones-like striving to be a better person?  And, tho it's a work in progress, I have had some luck with that one.  I know that when I do what I can for others, I am blessed some way in return.  I've never had a lot, but I do give back, mostly of myself, and gladly!  It just makes me feel good to know that it's easier than you think to take a moment to reach for an item in the grocery store for any person who can't get to it.  Or to go ahead and smile-be cheerful to a grouchy person, who got up on the wrong side of the bed.  Before you know it, that person is smiling back and probably wondering to himself or herself why they were grouchy in the first place-
you can just FEEL IT!  Warm and cozy!

And how about the "Johnny on the Spot" resolutions?  Like some time during the year, you screw something up or do something stupid like getting a ticket for no seatbelt-after the $l50 or $200 fine, it's OOPS!  And that could be a permanent resolution!  Or, you get in over your head in some financial whimsy and didn't tell yourself  before the New Year NOT to do that!  It's ok!  You can "Johnny on the Spot" resolve to get yourself out of it gracefully and NEXT time-use your head!  How about your weight?  You may have been at your ideal weight before the New Year, but by July you've gained 15 lbs.  You can "Johnny on the Spot" start losing the weight, and hope to keep it off!  So, what am I trying to say?  Resolutions aren't just for New Years?  We can make resolutions any time of the year as long as we can back them up?

Works for me! 


We didn't get snow in Forth Worth, Texas this Christmas, but I'm happy to report that a couple of my 'blogmates" were blessed with the white fluffy stuff!  Becky from "Just Being Me-Becky" in Georgia did get some snow, but she says it was gone by morning-sorry Becky. But I enjoyed your pictures of your mom, daughters and Santa!  And "Thisisme" from "Southhamsdarling" in the United Kingdom made a grueling, snowy trek to Paris to be with her family for Christmas-by the way Thisisme, your Granddaughters are beautiful.  I got a glimpse of your Paris pics...will get back soon for a better look.  You can find the links to these two ladies blogs in the "Blogs I follow, happily" section on my sidebar.

***
Well, no one voted on my "favorite Christmas song poll".  I know, I know, we were all busy.  But, my favorite Christmas song is "O Holy Night".  We sang it in my high school choir and I still love to hear it sung and I TRY to play it on my keyboard at Christmas.  Maybe I'll come up with a more challenging survey next time around, you think?

I would like to make note that some of my info on Y2K was gathered from answers.com and the corresponding pictures from yahoo images search.
My New Year's animations are from christmas-graphics-plus.com and gifanimations.com
*** Thank You ***

And now, I would like to thank all of my readers for spending time at Christmas to read my stories, and for sharing their Christmas antics with me.  It seems as tho I had quite a few viewers on my "Christmas Across The Ocean...The Star of India" post.  Believe me, it was exciting, and I hope it was enjoyable as well as informative.   My mother was proud to be featured in this story-well-she was the "speaker"!  As for my shy readers, please continue to stop by whenever you feel like it.  I truly appreciate the interest and welcome your comments and conversation.  Happy New Year to All-no resolutions necessary!

***
"New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions."

Who else but my ole' buddy...~mark twain

Bonne Annee!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

And Elvis Thought He Was Having "A Blue Christmas"!

My "last minute-hurry up" Christmas tablescape!
 I do have blue placemats with gold stars on them SOMEWHERE !  And cloth napkins...but when in a hurry, work with what you have handy!  Our Grandson Shawn was taking a nap after an exhilerating Christmas morn, and Karo was working on our Christmas dinner.  Not a lot of time to be too fussy-and, it was to be a small gathering, but I like to make it special even if for just a few.  Nice cream colored satin placemats were readily available and paper napkins that are not only blue, but they also have gold stars.
 And the blue vase usually sits on this table with either burgundy Gerber Daisies for fall and winter, or White Daisies for spring and summer.  But for Christmas, it's none other than the all time favorite Poinsettia.  The table is sort of Mediterranean design-glass with pale yellow edge.  I like the combination of pale yellow, blue and a touch of burgundy.
The name of this pattern is "Sylvan Nocturne".  Each piece is different.  My mom picked out this design for me in the mid 1990's.  It took a while to get it all here, as pieces were shipped separately.  As you can see, there are pine cone designs around the edges and they are trimmed in gold.  On the bottom of the dinner plate there are three owls painted and on the bottom of the salad plates are painted rabbits.  The bread plates have a garland of pine cones and a gold star in the center, and the saucers have a chipmunk painted in the center on top.  And, of course, I have adorned each place setting with a red poinsettia.


Lynn Chase-lynnchasedesigns.com

My dinnerware was designed by Lynn Chase, a self-taught artist.  Lynn loved animals as a young girl and began sketching at the age of five.  She says her first sketch was a leopard.  She has traveled across the United States, Africa and South America.  During one interview, Lynn was asked if she had ever been on a safari.  Ms. Chase replied that she had actually been on 7 safaris and had lived in South Africa from 1969-1973.  In 1988, Lynn formed Lynn Chase designs and was honored with The International Tabletop Committee's Best Design and Impact Award in 1991.  She has also designed furniture, home decor, and bedding and bath products.  Lynn founded the Lynn Chase Wildlife Foundation, a non-profit organization in 1988 and continues to live and design in New York City.

  The bottoms of my dinnerplates are inscribed like this:

A woodland walk and a clear night sky brings a galaxy of planets and stars closer to the earth.  Pine boughs brush against the blue of the universe.  A great horned owl sweeps by on silent wings.  The rabbit runs for cover.  Through the trees a red fox, puffed with its thick pelt of winter, watches like a sphinx.  As you head for home, a chipmunk sprinkles pine needles on your head-A remembrance of a Sylvan Nocturne.

This message describes my dinnerware to a T! 

a portion of pre-tax profits goes to the Lynn Chase Wildlife Foundation dedicated to stem the habitat loss around the world.

I am proud to be the owner of such beautiful pieces designed to help the wildlife of the world.  And my mom has several pieces hanging above her cabinetry in her kitchen.  Thanks Mom for contributing to such worthy cause and making me a part of it!  You can find a large collection of Lynn's artwork and products at
lynnchasedesigns.com

Hope everyone had a glorious Christmas!  Thank you for reading and joining me in the fun during the Christmas.  And I thank and welcome all new readers.  Please come back and talk to me sometime.  I have enjoyed many Christmas pictures from my "blogmates", and hope to share more pictures and fun stories in the coming year of "2011"-YIKES!

Don't forget my Christmas song poll...what is MY favorite Christmas song?  The poll closes soon!

Will send more Christmas pics soon.  Got to take a break.  Sunday nite-it's back to business as usual-did I hear someone in the background whisper "monkey business"?  Ok, OK-you caught me there.  But that's what it's all about, eh?

***
"Do not let Sunday be taken from you.  If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan."
~Albert Schweitzer

chow

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Merry Christmas to ALL from The KardKorner!

Greeting Cards are one of my passions...making my own cards gives me the opportunity to express how I REALLY feel!  I want the recipient to know that I made that card especially for him or her.   I had a hard time this year designing the front of my card.  I had to keep changing colors and pictures on the front and I was blaming the card stock for the final results.  Finally came up with this.  I played with the background color-didn't want it too dark.  I drew the striped border design on myself to give it a bit of a modern flare.  And then added the pictures of the "old tyme" Christmas lites.  I'm a bit of an ecclectic-type.  "A pleasant mix of old and new!"  

  
   


Here is the inside of my card.  Is the print large enough for you to read?  I used a quote from Norman Vincent Peal and then composed the sentiment myself-so I could say what I wanted to say!  How about that little basket in the bottom corner?

And finally, the back of the card.  Adding some fun n'est-ce pas?  "A little bit of Christmas Spirit from our house to yours!"  And I mean it!

I made a different card for my sister Leta, using the picture of the little girl on the Birthday card that is featured on my sidebar that she sent me in 2007.  I knew that card would come in handy some day.  On the front I said "I thought I'd get my hair done for Christmas-What do you think?"  Inside it shows a hairdryer, scissors, comb and some beauty aids.  And a woman with a Christmas wreath over her head.  Of course, she's holding a cocktail!  Anyway, it just goes to show how you can improvise and recycle something and make it your own!  Ho! Ho! Ho!

***

 Here is our "too tall" tree that I just HAD to have a few years ago.  It's not really a bad tree-just hard to get the lights in it.  But it does dress up good.  At least you can use larger ornaments without bending branches!


This photo gives way to a birdhouse with cardinals standing by, and, OH! there's a 1956 T-Bird, 1957 Chevy convertible, and higher up we have a 1958 or '59 "little red vette"!  My mom started sending my son some of Hallmark's classic car ornaments in the early 1990's and we enjoy them every year.



And here, there is another of three birdhouses I have on this tree under the protection of two dove.  I like the birdhouses and birds.  To me it lends a natural look-sort of safe.  You can see the round red light-those are really neat, almost like the old days!  And the small angel closer to the top on the left is actually a package decoration.  I moved to Texas in October of 1971 and in December that year,  my mom sent me a sweater for Christmas.  It was gift wrapped and this angel was tied to the bow on the package.  It's kind of dingy now, sort of a thin plastic with gold-foiled cardboard wings.  But I kept the angel and every year it's placed near the top of my Christmas tree.  Am I a hoarder, or what?  Mom, I bet you didn't know I kept that angel!

***
We have our Grandson Shawn, aka Scooter, Shawnsky, Scootie and Son for a few days this week.  I think we have to give him up on Christmas Eve, so we'll do his Christmas early in order to give him some quality time with a few new toys.  We've already had so much fun with him, although he weighs a ton and breaks our backs.  I'm placing some pics of  him on my sidebar.  You'll notice he's wearing shorts in DECEMBER! It was somewhere in the 80's in Fort Worth on Monday.  Don't get much down time when you have a 2 year old in the house.  That's why I'm up a little late tonite trying to catch up.  Good thing I don't have to work tomorrow.  Shawn is starting to sing now-I caught him crooning to Elvis' "Blue Christmas".  I just stopped dead in my tracks-a man after my heart!

***
And, by the way, I've put a new survey on my sidebar-no kidding!  Just a quickie to see if you can visualize "in your mind's eye" which of the listed Christmas songs might be my favorite.  I don't remember how long the poll is open.  I'll have to look it up and get back to you, so you better hurry and VOTE!

***
Thank you so much for tuning in.  I would like to retire this post with the sentiment I wrote in my Christmas card.  One request dear readers-However you celebrate, please do it safely.  I'm glad to be able to say
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

~
To all the Christmases far and near,
To all the People we hold Dear.
To all those things we're Thankful for,
To Rejoice and Sing Forever More.
~SmP

"Joyeux Noel"



Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Across the Ocean * The Star of India*

Last year, this was the largest star ornament located at Cochin in Kerala, India.  The star was noted in the Guiness Book of Records in December of 2009.  It is 103 feet, 8" long, and weighs in at 9,259 lbs.

Another state in India that brings on the real spirit of Christmas with their elaborate displays of stars is Goa.  Goa was one of 3 Portugese provinces in India-for 451 years.  India invaded these territories in 1961 and brought them into it's domain.  For centuries Goa was considered the headquarters of the Catholic Church in the orient.  Goa is India's smallest state located in southwest India in the region known as the Konkan.  And it is noted for its beautiful Cathedrals and serene beaches.   At Christmas, almost every home in Goa has the light of a star shining to welcome the coming of Christ.
A shop in Goa where colorful Christmas stars may be purchased

A Christmas star in flora fusion

***
I know I have mentioned before that my mother was born and raised in India.  She lived in Allahabad as a young girl and attended St. Mary's High School.  Later her family moved to Lucknow where she attended The Loreto Convent.  The schools were either boarding or day schools depending on your needs.  Her father, my Grandfather, was of French and Indian descent, and her mother, my Grandmother, was of German descent.  Mom and her four sisters, all of whom are still living, attended English schools  and the Catholic Church.  I asked mom to enlighten me a little about her Christmases growing up.

* In her own words my mother says: *
"Christmas was celebrated all over India, the schools let out for winter vacation and we were off a whole month.  But, we were kept busy, making paper decorations for the house, knitting gifts, and Mums was busy with her baking.  We had to sort through the various raisins she used, then they were rinsed and put out to dry.  Almonds were cracked, soaked and peeled, and then dried and chopped to be used in the cake.  Spices were pounded, also to be used in the cake.  Mums used suet, and it was put through a special process to be used in the fruit cake and also in the plum pudding."

Plum Pudding Cake


"Our idea of tree decorations came from books, so we usually picked a tree outdoors, decorated it with paper chains and used candles for lights.  All of the British clubs had a Father Christmas who dressed up and passed out gifts.  We usually hung our stockings on the bedposts, but whenever he came, our toys were generally held in pillowcases, and, yes, we left him a piece of cake that mysteriously disappeared overnight."     

Indian paper chains for Christmas Trees

"As soon as we were old enough, we attended Midnight Mass, when we lived in Allahabad.  It was a huge church, actually a cathedral, and the inside walls were painted by Italian artists.  It was a high mass, and I'll never forget it-I've not been to anything quite like it here in the States.  It could be that my child's mind was impressed-I was probably around 7 years old."

"Christmas day was an all day celebration, even the servants got into the spirit.  They came around for 'baksheesh' (gift), and the gardner's were out in full force selling boutonnieres and posies made from various flowers taken from nearby gardens, including ours!  The Indian Sepoy's got into the act and actually did band concerts.  It's funny, now that I think about it-these Indians didn't have any concept of English music, but they seemed to get the hang of it.  Dinner was the final end of a big day.  We had roast duck, turkey, or whatever fowl was available.  Daddy would somehow get a ham, usually Australian, and the plum pudding would be brought out all lit up.  That was a real treat for us kids, and then, finally, we got to pull the crackers with the little gifts flying out."

 
"We would run into the Tommies (British soldiers) after Midnight Mass was over, going back to their barracks after a night of boozing-they were a big mess, but I guess they missed their homes and families at Christmas.  That was a scene my parents did not want us kids to see."

"All these things are my remembrances of Christmas throughout the years.  It was a lovely time of the year, cold, but the flowers were blooming and everything was green."

MERRY CHRISTMAS MOM!

my Mom, Alma Ena Gabriel as a teenager

The following pictures are ones I gathered from Yahoo images search pertaining to Christmas in various parts of India...please enjoy!


Mango Christmas Tree decorated with balloons

handmade silk Christmas star


 sand sculpture of Santa in Puri, India

 Christmas shopping in New Delhi, India

 Christmas festival in Raju, India


festival of trees-Embassy Hotel in Surat, India

Vizhinjam Church in Kerala State, South India, near the sea shore


an Indian Christmas buffet from komalinunna.blogspot.com

Christmas Stars in Nagercoil, Tamu, India

This  post is dedicated to my mother and her family.  I got to meet my Grandmother once when she came to the U.S. on a VISA.  She was a little woman with very long braided hair that she wrapped up around her head.  My Grandfather passed away in 1965, I never got to meet him.  One of my mother's sisters, Gertrude, who we got to see frequently,  lives in Germantown, Wisconsin, Ethel, whom we also got to spend time with,  lives in Europe, Edie lives in New Delhi (I got to meet her a couple of times), and her youngest sister, Yvonne, whom I've never met, is currently living in Australia.

***
My mother is a major contributor to this blog.  She just (unknowingly) THROWS ideas out there from 600 miles away, and I'm like a magnet-just sucking all the info in!

***
I sincerely hope that you, my wonderful readers, enjoy reading a little history from times past and lands far away.  I ask you to remember that "no matter where we are, we're all guided by the same bright star."

Other sources of information gathered for this story came from:
 guinessworldrecords.com
indianchild.com

And by the way, my survey on The Nina Ship of Columbus...I had two voters, and I thank you kindly for participating.  However, my correct answer was 27 crew aboard the Nina.  But, I have seen several different numbers for the headcount (24 and 25).  Guess I'd better get my facts a little bit straighter!
We're all winners!

And thanks so much for your visits, comments and Christmas wishes on my post "The Good Shepherd".  My mom emailed me and said she liked the post and the verse. 

***
So, I must vamoose-finally finished my tree and DEAD batteries in both cameras!  I know, I know, it sounds like an excuse.  I've seen so many beautiful Christmas trees on your blogs this year.  I'm trying to get mine on here, really I am.  Just need to quit writing so much and get with the program.  And I do have a few gifts to wrap-bah!  Hope to pop back in today with some pics!

 See Ya!

Nadolig Llawen! (Merry Christmas in Welsh)


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Good Shepherd!

An email came floating through my office a few days ago, and it's been on my mind ever since.  It really touched me, so I had to send it home to myself.  A fellow employee sent it to some of us girls-don't know where he came across it.  But I thanked him graciously and decided to send it on to you, my readers.  Not even my mind's eye could have come up with this!

A Nativity Scene was erected in a church yard.  During the night the folks came across this scene.  An abandoned dog was looking for a comfortable, protected place to sleep.  He chose the baby Jesus as his comfort.  No one had the heart to send him away, so he was there all night.
We should all have the GOOD sense of this dog and curl up in Jesus' lap from time to time.
According to the article, no one mentioned that the dog breed is a "SHEPHERD!"

***
" I will not be afraid-for you are with me, Lord I'm not scared, cause you are with me, Jesus."
taken from Psalm 23, The Lord is My Shepherd
as interpreted by Rev. Jackie Love Prim
warrenname.com

"It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air."
~W.T. Ellis

See you soon!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

ALLRIGHT! Santa's up and on the prowl! Watch out kids...he's got his list with him, and he's checking it twice!

Photo taken by Suzanne on December 4, 2010

On one of our "walk dates", Karo and I came across a neighbor with this HUGE Santa in their front yard.  He was blowing from side to side, (well, the wind was pretty strong that nite) and back and forth.  By shear luck I was able to get this picture while he was standing upright-what a tease, Santa!  It brought to mind the Feast of St. Nicholas.

The Feast of St. Nicholas Day occurs all around the world.  It usually starts during early Advent.  The townspeople start baking and getting the children's stockings ready for the appearance of St. Nicholas.  He scouts around the countryside in late November making his list of good and bad children.  This is the time, in some countries that St. Nicholas leaves treats and small gifts to the children instead of on Christmas Day.  He also receives some pretty good treats himself!


Photo taken by Suzanne

Here we have "Frosty the Snowman" and his polar bear friend.  Looks like ole Frosty is trying to con the bear into the igloo.  "Step into my office and we'll discuss the price of fresh fish! Nyah, Ah Ah!"  Anyway, the outer perimeter of the yard is lined with tiny snowmen lighting the way to Christmas.  And what does that bring to mind?

Well, it's ole Frosty himself!

"Frosty The Snowman" was written in 1950 by Steve Nelson with Walter E. Rollins.  Even though Mr. Nelson was not a resident of Armonk until 1953, the townspeople in this small town, which is located in Westchester County, in New York, truly believe that he wrote this song with their town in mind.  And they claim their town to be the home of "Frosty the Snowman".  They have a "Winter Walk" festival each year, and Frosty with his "magical" old black silk hat is one of the highlights of this celebration.  This holiday classic was first recorded by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys in 1950.  Some of us folks have been singing this song for a long time!  (Not mentioning any names, of course!)

*** 
Frosty the Snowman is a fairy tale they say.
He was made of snow, but the children know
How he came to life one day.
Thumpetty Thump Thump
Thumpetty Thump Thump
Look at Frosty go...Over the hills of snow!

***
"Now you go home and write, 'I am very sorry for what I did to Frosty' a hundred zillion times.  And then maybe-just maybe, mind you-you'll find something in your stocking tomorrow morning!" 
~Santa Claus

You can find "Frosty the Snowman" news from lohud.com
St. Nicholas day info from stnicholascenter.org

My printer awaits-will check you later!
bonne journee`


 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Christmas Tradition

photo by Alma Jones at Christ The King church, Kansas City, MO.

The photo shown above is the Advent Wreath at my mother's church, Christ The King.  Mom assists in the seasonal decorating at her church and helped decorate this wreath.  During Advent, the four-week period that leads up to Christmas, mom's church organizes a project for each week.  Last week they put up 2 "giving trees" for needy families. The children that attend Christ The King school made paper ornaments for these trees and a list of the family's needs is attached to each ornament.  Church members take an ornament, or more, from the trees and purchase the gifts on the list. The following week they bring the gifts back to the church where they are checked off the lists and then wrapped.  My mother's church also holds food and clothing drives during the year for the needy.  Our thanks and blessings go out to this giving and loving church!

It is customary in Christian religions to observe this period and the occasion is symbolized using a decorated wreath with four and sometimes five candles, one for each week.  The wreath can be made of evergreens or a combination of herbs such as rosemary (dew of the sea), thyme (symbol of courage), and holly (symbol of suffering).  In the Catholic church the candle colors are usually 3 purple and one rose color.  In some churches the purple candles signify penitence and fasting.  In the Protestant church, the candles are usually red, signifying the colors of the season.


The first candle to be lit is said to be the "prophet's" candle in anticipation of Jesus' coming.  The second candle is the "Bethlehem" candle in recognition of the city of Christ's birth.  Candle number 3 is the "Shepherds" candle and the fourth candle to be lit is the "Angels" candle-it was the angels that announced Christ's coming.  Another variation of the wreath is the presence of a 5th candle, which is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  This is the "Christ" candle that symbolizes Christmas.

Of course, there are various accounts of how the Advent Wreath originated.  It is said that the wreath was a symbol of Advent in Northern Europe prior to the arrival of Christianity.  Some sources say that it was established in Germany as a Christian custom in the 16th century, while others say it did not come along until the 19th century.

My favorite theory is the one of Johann Wichern (1808-1881), who was a Protestant pastor in Germany.  At the mission school that Wichern founded, the children would ask daily if Christmas had arrived.  So, in 1839, using an old wooden cartwheel, Wichern built a large wooden ring with 19 small red candles and 4 large white candles.  He lit a small candle every weekday and a large candle on Sundays leading up to Christmas.  Soon, the wreath was customary among the Protestant churches and later, in the 1920's the Catholics in Germany adopted the custom.  And, today, many families make their own Advent Wreaths at home.  I remember our home having the wreaths and we had Advent calendars marking each day in December leading up to Christmas Day.  The calendars were a lot fun -there was a little window or door that you popped open each day with a Christmas picture and/or saying for that day.

Wreath as designed by Johann Wichern

I gained information for this article from my mother and wickipedia.org.  The large photo at the top was taken by my mother in her church.  The smaller photos were acquired from yahoo images.

Bring a torch Jeanette Isabella
Bring a torch, come swiftly and run.
Christ is born, tell the folk of the village,
Jesus is sleeping in his cradle,
Ah, ah, beautiful is the Mother,
Ah, ah, beautiful is the Son.

This song originated somewhere in the 1600's from the Provence region of France.

au revoir




Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Finally- The Finale! December and the year 2010 going...going...


December just kind of creeps in, wincing and yawning...looking around, as though it's not quite sure it belongs.  What a job December has!  On unsteady feet it leads the countdown toward a New Year-aagghh!  December strolls along, day by day in the beginning-and, then WHOA!  The pace picks up and she's (or he's) marching to the beat of the "Little Drummer Boy".  Par Rumpa Pum Pum!  And December asks herself (or himself!)  "Am I going to make it?  In time?  Dear Santa, I'm coming...are you ready for me?  And who gets a white Christmas this year?  Will it be the Midwest?  The West Coast?  How about the South?  Fort Worth, Texas got a couple of feet of beautiful snow last Christmas-remember?  Can we have a repeat?"  Decisions...decisions.  It looks to me as though December has a lot on her (or his...) plate.

So, let us try to chill this December and walk- don't run, in an orderly fashion to whatever our destinatons may be.  Remember-he's gonna find out whose naughty or nice!

***
Here at the KardKorner, I'm already busy, as you can see.  I've got the December kalendar printed and posted.  I have also designed our Christmas kards and they're ready for the press.  We don't send out a lot of cards, so I usually make a few that are different.  What's good about computers is that you can use the same design, but go in and make changes for different people.  I always like to put a quote on the back of my cards if I can find one that is compatible to the subject and the recipient of the card.  So I may use, say, 5 of the same card for 5 different people, and the backside of the card will be different for each person.  I started making my own cards, so I could personalize them in a way that the recipient knows the card was made just for him, or her.  Ah, the beauty of technology!

***
Oh Look!  It's Santa-in a four-poster bed!  GET UP SANTA!

One of our neighbors, up on the corner, lights up the street every Christmas with several different displays in her yard.  She really works hard, and has often received the award for best neighborhood display.  I sasheyed up there and took a few flicks-this is one of them.  I don't ever take pictures of others' Christmas displays, but this year I'd like to get some.  I've proposed a series of  "walk dates" with my husband Karo (see-his name starts with a K), that we can walk the neighborhood some in the evenings and get some pictures along with much needed exercise and fresh air.  And he has agreed!  So, we're off!

***
This morning's temperature in Fort Worth bottomed out at 35*.  We managed to soar up to a whopping 63* by 5:00 this evening, and now we're at 55*.  Plenty of sunshine and the rest of the week the temps are expected to be in the upper 60's and lower 70's.  Oh, home on the range!  Thank you for visiting and putting up with my weather reports and other ravings.  Hope to hear from you soon. 

***
"Remember, this December, that Love weighs more than gold."
~Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon

au revoir, mes chers lecteurs!





Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Mark Twain! November 30, 1835

Mark Twain's birthplace in Florida, Missouri

We are celebrating the birth of Mark Twain on November 30th.  Twain was born in a log cabin in Florida, Missouri in 1835.  This cabin is now a historic shrine and a museum that also houses some of Twain's first editions.  And there is Mark Twain lake that runs through the bluff near Florida, Missouri.  I couldn't find Florida, Missouri on a current map, but it appears to be located near Hannibal, Missouri.  The small map below indicates the spot where Florida, Missouri is located.
One would probably think Mark Twain is my favorite author because I mention him often and refer to his quotes in my own writings.  Well, I can't say he is my favorite author, but I will admit, he is the most interesting of authors to me.  So much has been written about Mr. Twain that I find him to be one of the most self-taught and street-wise (or river wise) personalities of all time.  He was a man who had nothing, yet had everything, and was satisfied in his own skin.  And he loved the Mississippi-he said, "The Mississippi River will always have its own way; no engineering skill can persuade it to do otherwise." 

Mark Twain's love of food has become particularly interesting to a wide range of authors and cooks.  There have been some recent writings describing Twain's tastes and how he preferred his foods to be prepared.    Andrew Beahrs is one such author who has written a very descriptive book called "Twain's Feast".  Mr. Beahrs writes that when Twain was abroad he missed American food terribly.  He learned that Twain found European food to be "monotonous" and "tasteless".  Mark Twain's desired breakfast consisted of  "a mighty porterhouse steak an inch and a half thick, hot and sputtering from the griddle; dusted with fragrant pepper, and enriched with melting bits of butter."  Along with the steak, Twain desired a great cup of American home-made coffee with frothy cream on top, smoking hot biscuits, and hot buckwheat cakes with transparent syrup.  A heart attack on a plate (or two), no doubt!

And as I read on, I learn what some of Mark Twain's other favorite meals were. 

The Greater Prairie Chicken

Twain's uncle John Quarle's prairie farm was just about 4 miles from Florida, Missouri on 500 acres.  He would spend several months a year on this farm and always remembered, and, in later years, longed for the foods that he claimed could never be properly cooked outside the South.  And one of these foods was the "prairie chicken" that lived within the prairie tallgrass on his uncle's farm.  He wrote:

"I can call back the prairie, and its loneliness and peace,
 and a vast hawk hanging motionless in the sky,
 with his wings spread wide and the blue of the vault
showing through the fringe of their end feathers..."

I did a bit more digging and came up with a recipe for Prairie Chicken from Estelle Woods Wilcox "Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, 1877".  It went like this:
You can find more of these scrumptuous recipes in the cookbook itself by seeing it on line-just type in Feeding America.  I have placed a picture of this book on my sidebar.

"I know the look of an apple that is roasting and sizzling on a hearth on a winter's evening, and I know the comfort that comes of eating it hot, along with some sugar and a drench of cream.
~Twain

In Andrew Beahrs' book, he posts 80 American foods that Mark Twain lists as his favorites.  Here are just a few:

Radishes.  Baked apples, with cream.
 Cherry-stone clams.
Early rose potatoes, roasted in the ashes, Southern style, served hot.
'Possum. Coon.
Hot corn-pone, with chitlings,  Southern style.
Lake Trout, from Tahoe.
Apple puffs, Southern style.  All sorts of American pastry.
Fresh American fruits of all kinds.
And "ice water"-NOT prepared in the ineffectual goblet, but in the sincere and capable refrigerator."

Well, now we have an idea of what Mark Twain might enjoy for his Birthday dinner.  I do imagine that if he's reading this right now, he is chomping at the bits and salivating at the very thought of Prairie Chicken with sweet Irish potatoes, peaches and apples, biscuits, "corn on the ear", coffee and sugar and whiskey.
"It makes me cry to think of them", he wrote.  

Once again, I was inspired by my mother to write this story.  No-she didn't push me into it...she just put a bee in my bonnet.  In September she sent me an article from the Kansas City Star newspaper written by Julia Keller of the Chicago Tribune.  The article is entitled "In Search of the Founding Flavors" and it focuses on the book written by Andrew Beahrs, "Twain's Feast".  Sooo, I bought the book, and it has been very good reading.  I didn't say that right, did I?  It's really very good.  I learned how to raise oysters, AND, how to skin a possum!  You can purchase this book at Amazon.com.

***
I hope you all had a very good Thanksgiving-we over-ate and now it's time to suffer.  This time, though, I only tried two of the desserts instead of all six.  My sister-in-law made a grape salad with white and red grapes, cream cheese and walnuts.  I told myself that it wasn't a dessert, which did allow me to have two others, and I loved it!  Everything was good and we were sent home with some good leftovers!  And our Grandson Shawn spent a couple of days with us, and called me Ammaw and he called Karo Awpaw!  Works for us! 

***
And now I will bid you, my readers, adieu.  Don't forget to vote on my survey about Columbus' ship, The Nina.  The survey closes December 11, 2010.  

 Food for thought, eh?

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside."

my friend~Mark Twain
November 30, 1835 ~ April 21, 1910

See you next month!