Daily Archives: December 1, 2011
Welcome to the Virtual Advent Blog Tour 2011!
Question: This calendar traditionally helps count down the days until Christmas, and behind each number it contains a prize.
Answer: Advent calendar.
Christmas and the holidays have always been understated in my family. I’m afraid you won’t be finding a post about a lot of big Christmas traditions here. My family is small with just my nuclear family (mother, father, and brother) and only a few extended family members (maternal grandparents and my uncle and aunt). When I was a child, we went to my maternal grandparents’ house for the holidays. Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving were all marked with days at their house and meals taken together. I’ve never really thought my family very big on traditions and have often felt a little disappointed by this.
But I realized that even if they were small, my family had traditions too. Meeting at my grandparents’ house in itself was a tradition. It was always a very serious decision to decide which day we were going to go over. Would we meet on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Then my mother and my uncle (her brother) had to decide who was going to bring what to the holiday feast. Who would bring what pie and if my mother was going to bring Russian tea cakes or not. My grandmother cooked. Boy, did my grandmother cook.
Question: In what country did the Advent calendar originate?
My grandmother made the best chicken and, try as I might, I can never make my chicken taste the same. I will always remember going to her house and walking into the kitchen to find all those pots and pans bubbling on the stove and both of the double ovens fired up. Her kitchen had a green tile backsplash and a green stovetop and green doors on the ovens. There was even a green rug in front of the sink. She used to pull a stool into the kitchen so I could get up on the counter and sit to watch her cook.
Question: How do you say “Merry Christmas” in French?
Answer: Joyeux Noël.
Another tradition we had was my grandparents’ Christmas tree. It wasn’t that we all helped decorated it or anything. It was always up before we arrived. But the tree’s mere presence was a tradition. You see, it had green lights. As a child I never realized how strange our tree was but friends often exclaimed how odd a Christmas tree with green light was when they saw pictures. My grandmother had these curious little red and white ornaments. To think about it, the tree must have clashed horribly with itself but I loved that tree. As a child I remember sitting in front of its soft green light and pretending I was on the moon or in fairyland.
Question: How do you say “Merry Christmas” in Spanish?
Answer: Feliz Navidad.
I miss those little traditions that I didn’t even know were traditions until they were gone. There is no grandparents’ house anymore these days. There is just my parents and brother now. We’ll probably have dinner together on Christmas and exchange a few gifts. Nothing special, nothing really big. But that’s a tradition now too.
Merry Christmas big and small!
Sift together and set aside:
2 ¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup softened butter
½ cup Crisco (shortening)
Add to this:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon water
Beat thoroughly, then beat in 2 eggs.
Slowly add flour mixture you set aside before.
Remove beaters and add 12 oz. package of chocolate chips plus 1 cup chopped pecans if desired.
Drop by ½ teaspoon on greased cookie sheet (or on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper).
Bake 375 for about 8 minutes. Watch for burning on bottom of cookies if using a dark pan!
Remove, cool slightly, and enjoy warm and gooey!
Thank you for joining me!
My obsession with Arthurian legend is rearing its head again and this time there are dragons. Yesterday’s Magic by Pamela F. Service is the third book in the New Magic series. I was surprised to find that this book was a recent one. Yesterday’s Magic was published in 2008 while the first two books of the series were published back in the mid 80’s. Talk about a gap! The fourth and final book of the series, Earth’s Magic, was published in 2009. Goodreads lists the first two books of the series as a single entity and labels the New Magic series as a trilogy. However, I ended up reading separate books and thus to me there a four books in this series. Your mileage may vary. If you can find the first two books smashed together, you can treat it like one book.
King Arthur and Queen Margaret are getting married and gifts are pouring in from the noble guests attending the celebration, including a piece of rare ancient plastic in the form of a pink lunchbox with Heather’s name on it. Queen Margaret ends up gifting Heather with the lunchbox, not knowing the danger she was putting the girl in. If Merlin hadn’t been so distracted, he might have realized something was wrong before it was too late. Now Heather has been kidnapped and spirited away out of Britain by Morgan Le Fay. Merlin will do anything to save Heather, including waking a sleeping dragon and traveling half way around the world to find her.
I enjoyed the first two books of the series very much but I have to say that Yesterday’s Magic is my favorite so far. The over a decade long gap between Tomorrow’s Magic and this books seems to have served Service well. (Lol.) The writing in this book is smoother than the earlier volumes. Time has allowed the author to hone her writing skills and it shows in this book. It’s much better written and lacks the fits and lulls that made her writing a little slow before.
At the end of the last book, Tomorrow’s Magic, we found Merlin coming to terms with the new magic of the devastated world he now finds himself in and battling back Morgan’s evil horde. Merlin and Heather get together as a couple and the two continue to evolve their magic. Heather’s animal and people based magic grows in this book, expanding into the ability to communicate with several surviving people around the world. The world is not as dead as they once feared. The mind-speech serves Heather well, allowing her to find a few friends and allies in a harsh world.
Merlin heads out on the awaken dragon to find Heather but their friends Welly and Troll won’t be left behind. (It’s so cute how Arthur doesn’t want Merlin going alone. I just want to pet them all!) The group travel across to France, where they just miss Heather and Morgan as the evil witch leaves for India. But Merlin finds that the ways to the Otherworlds are still open and the fey and gods still roam the earth. After a terrifying encounter with a death goddess, they manage to retrieve Heather and the group heads ever eastward in an effort to return home and get back to King Arthur.
Merlin decides after they get Heather back to continue eastward, rather than turn back westward and risk running into a perusing Morgan. The wizard knows that the earth is round and that they can return to Britain by traveling around the world on the dragon. Of course, you and I both know what a silly idea that is but the trip is cut in half by some new friends in North America and the group finds that the gods are very much alive there too. All around the world, magic is awakening as the earth slowly heals from the damage humans had wrought.
Arthur is not important in these stories. He’s a background character at best. This is a bit of a disappointment but since Merlin is my favorite character out of the legends, I can ignore the fact that Service ignores Arthur. Each book in this series has a two year timespan between. This book is a return to the pattern and tone we saw in the first story, The Winter of Magic’s Return. The quest to find Heather mirrors their original quest to find Arthur. The second book, Tomorrow’s Magic, focused heavily on Heather and her internal conflict with her emerging magic. The third, this review for Yesterday’s Magic, sees the characters growing up and coming into their own both magic-wise and personally. It will be interesting to find how the characters and situation have changed for the final tale, Earth’s Magic.
Yesterday’s Magic is my favorite out of the three books I’ve read of the New Magic series. I can tell that both the author and the characters have matured a bit by this point. Although, I’m eternally glad I found the series after Service had published the new books. I hate coming into a series only to discover it isn’t finished and the author hadn’t put out a new book in years. Drive me nuts. Yesterday’s Magic was a well-paced, magical trip across a world that could just possibly be what ours becomes if we’re not careful and I definitely enjoyed riding along on the dragon for it.
Kathy over at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer is hosting a small blog hop, Know Me Better, where she gives us five questions from some of her interviews. Since I adore Kathy’s interviews and her cute blog, I thought I’d use her little hop to get back into the swing of things after the end of NaNoWriMo. I can’t believe it’s already December! I need to get shopping!
If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
Probably Nerd or Geek. Perhaps The Internet Addict? Could be Distracted. (oh, look! A shiny! –wonders off-)
If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why?
The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland signed by Lewis Carroll. (Or his real name, Charles Dodgson.) I have a lifelong obsession with Alice in Wonderland and I’d probably happily kill someone for a signed copy of the book.
I once counted how many times I’d been an Alice in Wonderland character for Halloween. I’ve been Alice 6 times, the white rabbit 3 times, the Red Queen 5 times, the Mad Hatter 3 times, and I’ve been the Cheshire Cat twice. I actually wear one of the Alice dresses all the time. Yes, I am weird. What of it?
Horror or Romance?
I have to blaspheme here and answer with neither. Horror is not my cup of tea (I’m a scaredy-cat!) and I find most Romance books as boring as watching paint dry. I will, however, read a suspense or thriller book but that’s as close to real horror that I get. (I also hate gore. –gags-)
If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why?
Victorian England, the city of London! Why? Sherlock Holmes baby!
Do you prefer a bunch of small gifts or one big expensive one?
Depends? Are we talking small gifts like $5 or are we talking small gifts like $25; because if I can get a bunch of $25 gifts that would equal to a lot of books and I’d prefer that. If it had to be things like from the dollar store, I’d have to go with one big expensive one.