Merry Christmas!

Hi there Blog Friends–  We’re deep into tree trimming and cookie baking around here.  My smart young buddy Jenna is coming over to bake this morning and Larry is spending these days shepherding people on a “Walk through Bethlehem” every night at church.  It’s pretty much full on Christmas time for us.  And I’m counting the days until kids walk in the door!

So I’m taking a little Blog Break– to slow down the season, spend time in thankfulness to God and to have sweet time with people we love celebrating together.  At times you just have to simplify– and this is it.

I’ll still be Instagramming at “Rhonda Sittig”

But I’ll be reading along keeping up with all my Blog Buddies– and hopefully will be back posting in the New Year.  Hugs to all!!  And I hope and pray you have a blessed and beautiful Christmas.

     

     

Some Links to our Christmas Favorites:

Chocolate Cranberry “Fruitcake”

White Truffle Cake

Sugar Cookies

Swedish Lemon Hearts

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!  And God’s dearest blessings to you all…

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Christmas Hope

Blessed Christmas to you friends–  This has been such a full Christmas season for us–real joy sitting around a beautiful table with our SF family this past week,   cheerful -if not totally melodic- caroling with the lovable neighborhood kids, watching Larry tell the Christmas story as a shepherd in our church’s Bethlehem Walk…

And there’s been deep sadness walking with a with a friend as her husband suffers dearly, our son’s family still evacuated because of the wildfires, a serious eye injury to a close friend and continued legal stress…

Life is complicated.

But these Christmas lyrics have stuck in my mind– “The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…”   I’m thankful to know that thrill.  There’s hope and deep joy in walking with God in these days.

Hoping for the thrill of God’s hope and moments of true joy for you and your family this Christmas.

Almond Rocky Road

Merry Christmas!!  A friend brought in this Christmasy candy the other day and it set me to searching for the recipe. It hits all those sweet spots– chocolate, nuts and those springy marshmallows.  I think the grand-girls will love it!

I was surprised how super easy it is to make– takes 10 minutes max!  The recipe is so simple, I could give to you over the phone!  But here I’ll just write it out here:

ALMOND ROCKY ROAD
2 cups chocolate chips (12 oz.)
2 tab. butter
14 oz. can condensed milk
2  cups roasted almonds, chopped in half*
16 oz. bag mini marshmallows

In a large microwave proof bowl, melt the chocolate chips and butter (about 90 seconds).  Stir them all together until it’s all smooth. Pour in the condensed milk and mix until it’s all blended.

Then pour in the marshmallows and almonds and stir until they are all coated with the chocolate mixture.

Spoon it all into a 9″x 13″ pan that has been lined with waxed paper.  Pop it into the fridge for a couple hours to harden and cut into delicious squares.

*The original recipe I worked from called for 2  1/2 cups peanuts, but I opted for almonds.  Walnuts or pecans would be good too.

 

Rethinking Christmas

Hello Blog-Friends:  If you’re like me, you might have a whole lot of expectations (I prefer to call them “hopes”– it sounds kinder) about Christmas ahead–what the best Christmas should look like to you.  It’s all about lists.  Making them & checking them twice.

But this year we’ve had a shift.  Last Monday, our son called from Ojai.  They were pulling out from home, evacuating because of the wildfires closing in on their small community.  The family finally made their way down to our house, and we spent some days watching blazes on t.v. news and checking Facebook posts detailing damages.

The school where Micah teaches lost the science building (his physics lab & robotics program) and the girls’s dorm burned to the ground.  Their home had some damage, but much was saved by fire fighters.  So thankful.

So our hopes have changed some.  Christmas will look a little different.  The to do lists are shorter.  And things that matter– being together, remembering God’s gift of his son to the world shine brighter.

I’ve been reading a daily Christmas email from my favorite blogger, Shannan Martin.  She writes it so well:

“There in the wonderful, terrible thick of December, the furniture of my heart was shifting. Things that had lurked in the shadows were snapping into focus. As Christmas drew nearer, the new rhythms of my soul were bumping against my old ideas about how to celebrate, why we celebrate, and what a new way of living the “thrill of hope” might look like practically.

Basically, I cleaned out my Christmas closet. I did that thing where you hold up each old shirt and decide if it still fits, and whether or not it’s worth the space it occupies.”

So my Christmas hopes for you (and me) are that we’re able to see that “thrill of hope” and rest in God’s love for us in the middle of all the Christmas storm of activity.  Merry Christmas Blessings to you, dear friends.

P.S. To find Shannan’s blog and the link to her “12 Ways of Christmas Emails” click here.  I think you’ll love her as much as I do.

Favorite Christmas Books

Hi friends–  When we drag out the Christmas decorations around here, I also climb up onto a chair reach the top bookshelf where we keep a beloved collection of Christmas books.  I pull down all the favorites and plop them on the corner of the coffee table, ready to read with grand-girls when they come in to stay.  It’s one of the best parts of Christmas!  Here are a few of our favorites.

B Is For Bethlehem — by Isabel Wilner, illustrated by Elisa Kleven.  This lively rhythmic telling of the Christmas story uses an ABC format and couldn’t be more beautiful.  The illustrations are a combination of collage and small paint details–exquisite.  And the message is glorious– honoring God and his gift to us at Christmas.

Christmas in Noisy Village — by Astrid Lindgren, illlustrated by Elon Wikland.  A band of village Swedish neighbor children spend their Christmas baking, gathering a tree from the forest, visiting a grandfather and feasting together at a Christmas party.  Couldn’t be more charming.

The Story of the Three Wise Kings — by Tomie DePaola.  Classic DePaola telling of the journey of the three wise men in search of the baby Jesus at the first Christmas.  He uses a slightly more formal take on his signature illustration and there is a interesting preface about the history of the telling the story of the wisemen.  A  wonderful addition to any Christmas book collection.

Santa’s Favorite Story — by Hisako Aoki, illustrated by Ivan Gantschev.  When the forest animals find Santa napping just before Christmas, they worry that Christmas won’t be ready! But Santa assures them that the real Christmas is more about the coming of a babe in a manger.  Lovely water color illustration and gentle text, make this a beautiful telling of Christmas.

Hope your Christmas is full of cozy reading and sweet times with family young and old.  Merry Christmas!

P.S. top illustration thanks to Holly Hobbie.

Tender Mercies

perwinkleliving-tumblr-comHello all– I was able to snatch part of a morning this week to read through the story of Jesus’ birth, to sit and think and pray…

And the words that stayed with me were when Zechariah spoke of “the tender mercy of our God.” (Luke 1:78)  It made me want to look for God’s “tender mercies”through these days of Christmas.

The mercies of my mom growing stronger, of squeals from the grand-kids.  The splendid mercy of real conversations with our children.  And Christmas music in the house, of sitting down to meals together and the sun through the bare maple trees in the yard.

And the best mercy of God’s son come to earth for us.  I remain  profoundly grateful for God’s merciful love.

 

Christmas Books for Little Readers

 

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Hi there– Do you have favorite Christmas books that you go back to every year?  I have a stack right here on the coffee table, just waiting for the grand-girls to come through the door.  We like sweet. We like funny. We like endearing Christmas books.  Here’s a few if you happen to have little readers on hand at Christmas:

513uldt0lkl-_sy337_bo1204203200_The Christmas Pageant by Tomie DePaola makes use of the text from the gospels of Matthew & Luke, along with the simple, charming illustrations that are instantly recognizable as DePaola’s work.  The story takes us through the Christmas story as presented by a group of children in their Christmas program celebrating Jesus birth.


unknownFather Christmas
by Raymond Briggs is almost wordless, but chronicles Christmas Day for a rather grumpy Santa through a series of detailed illustrations.  This British Santa packs his thermos of tea, flies over Buckingham Palace and makes a Christmas pudding.  You have to admire this intrepid Santa and enjoy his little celebration when he finally arrives home.

61twq0ouzvl-_sx399_bo1204203200_Christmas in the Country by Cynthia Rylant is the sweet story of a small girl who describes her Christmas in the country home of her grandparents.  There’s the awkward Christmas tree that “seemed sometimes like an embarrassed guest” and Christmas dolls and aunts & uncles & cousins bringing pies– a gentle story made even better by DianeGoode’s tender illustrations

51jka-7wl-_sx398_bo1204203200_Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera is a rollicking adventure of Sophie and her mysterious Auntie.  When she stows away in her Aunt’s luggage, she finds herself on a revealing trip to the North Pole and learns a lot about herself and Christmas.  Vivid illustrations and a satisfying ending made this a fun book to read together.