Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

A joyful day for all! 

Sharing today a nativity painting by high Italian Renaissance artist Carravaggio, master of chiaroscuro, or contrasts of light and dark values in a painting.  The brightness of the figures punctuate the intensity of the dark background.

A light in the darkness.  And, although Carravaggio lived a terribly violent life, his multitude of religious paintings serve as reminder that even when our lives may be dark or bleak, the light of Christ shines through as  beacon, illuminating our whole being.

Merry Christmas to All!  This night belongs to the whole world.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Bazaar

A neighbor down the street, Debra Kuypers, held her Second Annual Christmas Bazaar.  She invited a bunch of ladies to come and sell their crafty wares.  Everyone brought a gourmet snack.  Here are some photographic highlights.  All contact information is provided.

-snacks on the table-

-cake pops-

-hand thrown pottery-
Melissa Zeigler Monroe
12132 187th Street
Mokena, IL 60448

-Nola Granola-
This woman scored a contract with Whole Foods for her granola.

-handpoured soy candles-
Emily Serno

-A Year Around Crfat Fair at Your Fingertips_
Joy & Sandy

Janet Metzger
"Specializing in Pencil Drawings"

Joannie's Painted Pillows
Joan Algozzini
(I bought that one with the gold finch for a gift!)

-the hostess herself-
Mrs Debra Kuypers
fine art & murals
mobile (708)516-6318

this beautiful oil painting was a commission

Debbie's mom made a bunch of beautiful jewelry

The whole living room was set up like a Christmas shop bonanza!

and some Town and Prairie chalkboard cheer
tucked into a basket

Just one more week to shop!

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Patience, people, for the Lord to come.

Be kind to others.  Don't turn people away from your stable.

Express gratitude and love.  Pray for travelers and those with anxiety over anything.

Wait with the Holy Family.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Love Letter

Dear Ruby:

I am so happy that you have been feeling better.  

I was so worried about you. 

It seems like just days ago when the puppy doctor told me he couldn't guarantee that you would make it.  That virus really took its toll on you. 

Boy, that medicine sure was expensive.  You are just a gold-plated puppy, aren't you??

What's that?  You've been watching my Will Ferrell movies again? 

Don't worry, I will get over the window.  It will only be $1800 to replace.  We were going to replace it eventually, it just wasn't in the budget for a few years yet.

I know you were just rough-housing under the dining room table with Sharkey and that knocking over the chair into that big window was an accident. 

What was that? 

Sharkey did it? 

Of course, WHAT was I thinking?

No, Ruby, stay. 

You don't have to get out of the French-y chair. 

You're a dog. 

You had a hard day's work. 

Sit down. 

Oh, and I wanted to thank you personally for that special present you left between the Christmas tree and the wall there. 

I know you were trying to hide it until Christmas, but I found it!  I thought I had said I wanted Hulk Hands, but it must have slipped my mind.

Didn't I tell you to stay away from my tree? 

You almost knocked it over when you dove under it last week and came out the other side.

And please, Ruby, stay out of the boys' room. 

I know about what happened in there. 

You just couldn't hold it? 

With all the Legos and trains strewn about in there, I was in crisis mode until I found it.

I thought I might pick it up accidentally as I searched through the mound of boy-matter looking frantically but gingerly for the source of smell that alerted me. 

I know you go potty outside when I take you out. 

We just haven't gotten to the point where you can tell me you HAVE to go. 


But you will.

You will.

You're going to have yourself a merry little Christmas, aren't you?

Stay on the nice list, k?

I need a break.

Love, Ma

Sunday, December 11, 2011

St. Rita Print

Sharing today a recent acquisition from my local antique store.  It is an antique print on tin of St. Rita.

I paid $30 for this print, on markdown from $40.  It is about 16"x20" and the plaster frame measures larger.  Yes, there is damage to the frame.  I did not care. 

I had been watching her at the antique store for a long time.  Things at home would need rearranging to accomodate her if I made this purchase.  Two weeks ago, I just up and bought her; enough already.  

Dan helped me to change around our wall decor in our family room.  He also gave me some (early) Christmas presents (!) since he didn't want to help me rearrange twice. 

Are you familiar with St. Rita?  I will make a long story short.  (This is condensed from Novena, The Power of Prayer, by Barbara Calamari and Sandra DiPasqua).

Before she was born, an angel visited her mother and gave her this name.  She was an only child.

She was a child who had an overwhelming desire to become a nun.  Her parents said no.  She ended up in a terrible and violent marriage.  Ater almost 20 years, her husband was murdered.  Her sons were going to avenge his death.  She prayed their souls would not be stained with blood.  They were suddenly stricken with a terrible illness, repented, and died.

All she had lived for was gone.

She made several attempts to join a convent, but was turned down because of her prior marriage.  She kept praying about it, and had a mystical vision that she should try again.  The nuns accepted her with overwhelming support.

She devoted herself to caring for the older sick nuns.  Her prayers were said to be very powerful.

She was always prayerful and mediated on Christ's passion.  She had begged to feel Christ's suffering.

In meditation, a thorn from the crown pierced her forehead. The wound never healed.

She is often seen with roses because at her death the roses in her garden bloomed off-season so they could be used to adorn her casket.  Her body lies incorrupt in the city of Cascia.  It is the scene for countless miracles.

Many women ask for her help with marital problems because they can identify with her difficult life.

Here is where we hung her on our family room wall.  I'm so glad I finally made the purchase.

Linking up this week with

3rd Sunday of Advent

"Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.   Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus."


 Sharing with you my antique nursing Madonna.  I have never seen another like her.

Just two weeks until Christmas Day. 

Remember in the hustle and bustle to take time to reflect. 

(Yes, this reminder is mostly for myself).  Have a great week.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Our first snow of the season came early Friday morning.  Here are some photos of my flower garden in the front yard with our St. Anthony statue.  Always pictured with baby Jesus and a handful of lilies, he is the patron saint of lost articles.  If you ask him to help you find something, he will ask baby Jesus if you may have it.  Many prayers are answered with St. Anthony's assistance. 

On the way to work, the St. Jude's Phonathon was on the radio, and pediatric cancer survivors were accepting phone calls. 

I had already cried more than once by the time the memories came flooding back.

We are very blessed to be where we are.
When I shared my memories with Dan, he admitted he had been thinking the same things just a few days prior.

It was almost ten years ago already.

  Three months pregnant with our first child, we had gotten some scary test results back. 

 There might be a genetic disorder. 

We were being required to go downtown for some further, more advanced, testing.

We were kind of devastated. 

Instead of sharing our pregnancy with people, we kept it a secret, except for family. 

But people started to find out as I started to show. 

"Why didn't you tell us you were pregnant?"  people at work would ask. 


it's not exactly easy to share something you are scared and uncertain about.  We didn't know about the health of the baby at all.

We certainly didn't want to talk about it with casual acquaintances.

Worse yet, we had to wait a whole month to go for further testing.

With Christmas on the way, it was a terrible burden.

It was hard to be excited about expecting.

It was hard to be excited about Christmas.

And, looking back, I was still going to be a young mom. 

I was 26 years old.

When the time arrived, it was a snowy December day.

We took the day off of work.

It was Dan's birthday.

We drove the hour long ride into the city.

Arm in arm we trudged through the piled up snow that had been plowed onto the sidewalks. 

It was a long walk from where we had parked. 

It was cold. 

Four months pregnant, we walked to Rush Medical Center to find out about our baby.

It took a long time.


the results indicated that the tests that had been administered by our ob-gyne

had been innaccurate. 

The baby would be healthy!

We were already happy, but now we wanted to bring some news back to our family to help everyone get excited about the upcoming birth again... 

...something that would be more tangible and help us put this experience behind us.

We found out we were having a baby boy.

It could have been Christmas morning. 

" I am going to have a son," Dan said.

We were lost, and we were found.

Seek, and ye shall find.

God's presence is everywhere.

Yes, we still struggled with this pregnancy.

Our baby would be born just three months later, two months too soon.

But he would survive, and thrive, and grow.

And now we have two more.

And our pregnancies with them were equally as medically difficult.

But it all could have ended terribly and tragically for us during those deliveries.

It didn't.

Yes, we ARE blessed.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Work of Heart

Our tree.

A 10 footer.

Ornaments spanning a century.

She literally takes a half a day to set up, what with the assembly, the fluffing, the LIGHTS--- the horrible LIGHTS that would NOT LIGHT this year, and the 100s of ornaments we have.

Just TRY keeping the kids out of your carefully-and-individually-wrapped-in-tissue-vintage-and-antique ornaments.  All they want to to is DIG through the bins.


Doesn't matter how many times you say, "CAREFUL!!"

The excitement cannot be contained.

The angel would not fit.  Again.

Every year we have to put her on a front branch.

"Just shove her UP there," my son said of the angel, as I struggled standing and stretching on a chair to get her situated and connected to the lights.  (She CANNOT go on the tippy top; we'd have to pull the tree out too far).

---In all her glory---

I feel like that there are so many ornaments that don't even show up in the pictures.

Yeah, I know the middle of the tree looks brighter and more loaded in this photo... this year I decided to add a few strands of twinkles to the tree.  That's where they were twinkling.  I'm usually not a twinkle kind of gal, but felt like orienting her a bit differently this year.

AND--RUBY (the little scrappy puppy that could) is busy stealing ornaments off of the bottom!  So we couldn't put anything special too low. 

It's like having a baby in the house all over again. 

The little monster has been feeling MUCH better and a full update on her well-being will be coming soon.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Santa Claus is Coming to Town!

I have this amazing collection of vintage Santas...

I love their red velvet suits and and old yellowed beards.

To some, they're known as department store Santas.  Some of these guys had their very first home in a department store window display at Christmas time.

The blocks say, 'X-mas.'  Usually, I never write that, but these blocks are Victorian and were buried in a box of other vintage Christmas gear I bought.

Perhaps you remember them?  I do not.  They were more from my mother's time, I think.

This one on the far right with the robe is not that old.  He is maybe ten years old.  We have dubbed him 'The Cone Santa' because he is made out of a cardboard cone which is just embellished with fabric.  But, he blends in with the gang all the same.  That crazy hat spans decades.  It never seems to go out of style.

This little face is so sweet.  He is a broken remnant of a once much larger decoration that used to spin.  He'll brighten your day all the same.

The older Santas have those chalkier faces and wooly yellow beards.  I know sometimes dealers will add a little flour to the beard to brighen it before a sale to make it appear fresher.  Can we joke about a dirty Santa, or what?!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

I'll be linking up this post to the

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