Friday, November 29, 2013

On the First Day of Christmas {Music}



I've been waiting for this day since the first of November.  I adore Christmas music, it just makes me happy - in fact sometimes throughout the year I'll put on a Christmas tune or two just get myself out of a funk.  This year I tested my resolve by not playing Christmas Music until after Thanksgiving and oh boy has it been a challenge, particularly because I found a lot of great new music thanks to Spotify.

Last year I tried to limit my Christmas music before Christmas and it just wasn't right.  In fact my husband, jaded as he is from years in retail, mentioned that there was something off in the house without the music playing during most of December.  So this year I'm giving myself free range to listen to what I want, but making an attempt to balance out Christmas and Advent music.

Since today I'll be filling my ears with these joyous sounds I wanted to share some of my new and old favorites with you!

  1. Advent at Ephesus - Not Christmas Carols, but Advent hymns that capture the joy and expectation of the Advent Season.
  2. J.S. Bach: Christmas Oratorio - The King's Singers - Bach's Christmas Oratorio set to a Big Band beat.  Lots of fun and in German!
  3. O Night Devine - L'Angelus - A little bluegrass-y takes on classics.
  4. Silver and Gold - Sufjan Stevens - Fresh takes on classic holiday tunes.
  5. The Sounding Joy - Elizabeth Mitchell - Some old and some lesser known holiday music, simply arranged and sung.
  6. On a Cold Winter's Day - Quadriga Consort - "Early Christmas Music & Carols from the British Isles", lots of great new songs to discover.
  7. The Nutcracker Suite - A timeless classic for my family.
  8. Barenaked for the Holidays - Barenaked Ladies - You always need at least one Christmas CD just to dance around the house to.
  9. A Very Rosie Christmas - Rosie Thomas - Okay, maybe two.
  10. Enya - And Winter Came - Not a lot of religious themed music, but classic Enya, perfect to throw in the mix for a reflective evening at home.
  11. Handels' The Messiah - This list wouldn't be complete with out it.
  12. Marian Grace - In the Bleak Midwinter - I might have jumped for joy when the announcement for this CD was released a few weeks ago.  Just wonderful, it's been hard waiting so long to play it on repeat!

 What are your favorite holiday tunes?

{This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.  If you'd like to make a purchase of something I've mentioned here click through the pictures and I'll get a small kick back.}

    Monday, November 25, 2013

    Advent Unplugged: Plans for a Simpler Holiday Season




    Last year was a year to try new things for our Advent Season; some thing worked, some didn't.  The goal for this year is to keep things simple, meaningful and flexible.

    Advent Calendar:
    • This year I'll be doing our Advent Countdown on our mantel like last year.  I liked the looked and the simple reminders.
    • We'll be trying out this book for a sort of Advent Calendar
    • I won't be assigning an activity for each day.  Trying to plan out an entire month like that is just a recipe for disapointment because it only takes one day to throw everything off.
    • Next year I'd like to start using an Advent Calendar like this to start teaching more of the Christmas story, but we're just not there yet.
     
    Advent Activities:
    • This year, instead of assigning something to each day, I'm taking a more flexible approach.  We have about five or six preplanned activities - My choir concert at church, a free Holiday show, etc.
    • I want to keep trying to do our weekly read aloud of "A Christmas Carol" with my husband, but I'm think it will be in shorter, more regular bits than trying to get through it in 4 days.
    • We'll have at home activities like making our Christmas cards and art projects with the kiddo, but I think I'll just make a list and pick and choose when we need something to do.
    • We'll be doing St. Nicholas Day again this year - coins in shoes and a new book.

    Advent Reading:
    • I've added a few titles I want to read on my own - 

    • And I'll be trying out this book for our family, though I'm not sure if Henry is old enough for it yet this year.  This year is more of a trial run to see if I like the material

    • I'll be sharing our favorite Advent and Christmas Books in the next week or so - lots to add.

    Advent Unplugged:
    • I want to be a little more purposeful about my time online.  I don't have a fancy smart phone, but my laptop stays open more than I'd like.
    • This will be my first Christmas off from work since Henry was born and I might not get another real Christmas morning for 3-4 years.  I actually have a full week off and I think I'll be taking a hiatus to do all those great Christmas things for the first time.  
    • I want to connect a little more with my friends and family; plans for this are in progress.
    • If I was to pick a word for this Advent I'd choose "Still" - this needs to be a season of peace, healing and reflection for my little family and I want to do my best to make it fun and meaningful.  I want lots of good food, movie watching, book reading, and nights around the fireplace.
    What are your plans?

    Linking up with Haley

    AdventUnplugged

    (This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links)

    10 Fun Days to Celebrate Instead of Black Friday



    1. Holiday Movie Friday - It's officially after Thanksgiving, you may watch "Frosty the Snowman" ad naseum with my blessing.
    2. Christmas List Friday - Make your list, just don't buy anything on it yet.  Figure out those tricky to shop for relatives!
    3. Clean Out the Closet Friday - Go thru decorations, toys, clothes and purge!  If you have things in good quality give them to charity or pack up a big box of hand-me-downs!
    4. Volunteer or Visit the Elderly Friday
    5. Care Package for a Soldier Friday - If you need to purchase do so before Friday and spend the day putting the package together.  Handmade touches are always appreciated.
    6. Telephone Friday - Call the people you've meaning to call.
    7. Thank You Note Friday - Catch up on some Thank You Notes!
    8. Cookbook Friday - go through all those holiday recipes and map out your route to Gastronomic Conquest!
    9. Photo Album Friday - Spend the day preserving and reliving some family memories!
    10. No Spend Friday - Whatever you end up doing on Friday, make it a point not to spend money if you don't need to

    Please reconsider any shopping on "Grey Thursday" at all.  Remember that the people working in those big box stores are people with families too.   The more we support these maneuvers the more they will be required of the employees.  Also take into consideration that even if you're making time and a half, at a minimum wage you're not even making $100 for a full days work.

    If you find yourself needing to pop out for some milk or stopping at the gas station or maybe Black Friday is your thing - Please remember to be nice and tell the people helping you or checking you out "Thank You" for working that day so that you can have your fun.

    Friday, November 22, 2013

    Great Girls Are Found in Sets: Over 30 Sets and Collections of Great Girl Books!

    I don't know about you but I love give and receiving a good book for the holidays.  You know what I love even more than that?  
    Giving and receiving a lot of good books.

    When looking through my Great Girls list I was amazed at how many of our favorite heroines need quite a bit of room to tell their whole story. So I decided to compile a list of some of our favorite series and collections in one place. 



    So here you go:
    (The Pictures are Affiliate Links and will take you to Amazon.com if you find something you can't live without!)

    The Complete Ramona Collection, The Judy Moody Collection, The Betsy-Tacy Treasury


    The Complete Anne of Green Gables, The Works of Jane Austen,
    The Enchanted Collection (Alice in Wonderland, The Secret Garden, Little Women and More!)


    Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Eloise: The Ultimate Collection, The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking


    The Penderwicks, Mad About Madeline, The Books of Bayern




    The Wee Free Men: The Beginning (First Two Books, Not Prequel); His Dark Materials Collection




    The American Girl Collections (there are many more character to chose from!)


    Julie of the Wolves Collection, A Wrinkle in Time 5 Book Set; Gail Carson Levine's The Enchanted Collection



    The Nancy Drew Starter Set, The Song of the Lioness Series, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles



    The Little House Full Set, The Prydain Chronicles, The Spiderwick Collection


    A Newberry Collection (Number the Stars, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Island of Blue Dolphins, etc.)
    George MacDonald's Princess Books, Cathryn Valente's The Girl Who Trilogy



    Oz, the Complete Collection, Harry Potter Set, The Hunger Games Trilogy, The Divergent Trilogy



    Oh My Goodness!  So many great books - and so many new titles for me recommended by you!
    (* I can't claim to have read every book on this list yet, so proceed with caution and your own good judgement*)

    I know I've missed some great sets and collections out there so I am all ears for your great suggestions!



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