Almost time…

I tend to be quite “regimented” with my Christmas decorations – I always put them up on the afternoon of the second Sunday in Advent, and they come down on the Sunday nearest Epiphany. I almost always put them in the same places too, only changing them if they are in an inconvenient place. For example, my little sitting angels migrated this year from the edge of the mantlepiece (where they got bashed every time we filled the granule burner) to perched on the edge of my candlesticks.

This year I didn’t feel “in the mood” for Christmas, so the decorations didn’t get put up until the third Sunday in Advent – it was also because the second Sunday was quite busy with visitors coming for tea – but once they were up, with the fairy lights twinkling, I felt quite festive.

Here are various decorations from blog swaps over the years. I thought I had other photos but I can’t find them.

But tomorrow is the closest Sunday to Epiphany, and so they’ll be coming down for another year – except for a couple of sets of lights which stay up all year, and some stars that I received as Christmas gifts. Originally we called the house “La Maison des Etoiles” – but dropped the name eventually (although we do have a name plaque up on the gate post) – so, even though we don’t use the name it’s nice to have the stars up.

Don’t say the C-word!!

Oh my golly gosh!

I’ve done my Christmas shopping!!

We’re going to the UK soon, and we’ll be seeing both sides of the family…so I have bought some nice things on the Eden Project site, and on Namaste Fair Trade and we’ll have them delivered to my MiL’s house. I can wrap them up, and then deliver them directly (or leave them with MiL)!! That will save on postage costs and awkwardness of wrapping things up to post.

All the nephews and nieces are getting Christmas decorations – I’d usually buy these at the Christmas markets, but Jane & I aren’t going this year (for various reasons) Some books for the great nephews and great nieces (save those in Malaysia…) to be purchased in the UK and we’re done!

I think my Christmas present will be money for a new laptop – I need one for work, and mine died back in February-ish. I’ve been using my phone for downloading audio and videos but it’s not very good, really.

How organised am I?!

Christmas Eve

(I’m writing this on Christmas Eve, but I’ll probably schedule it to publish on Boxing Day)

Well, this morning Breakfast TV was discussing people who haven’t finished their Christmas shopping, or at least, their food shopping; reporters were standing in supermarkets – which, I feel, were disappointingly empty for their reports. “There are people queueing for the vegetables”, the reporter announced as the camera panned across the fresh produce aisles where a few people were picking up bags of parsnips. We are all organised – although we did pop down to Carrefour for extra-soft “Balsam” tissues, as I have a stinking cold, and we may have bought a bottle of fizzies to drink tomorrow (as I’d only bought really cheap stuff from Noz!)

Mr FD is on his computer, I’m on mine, the cats are sleeping somewhere around the place, and the house is quiet.

Pomme, sleeping on the amplifier under my desk – a warm “underheated” space!

 

There are only the two of us on Christmas Day – we’ll have a quiet day of good food, a walk, some reading, some Christmas radio, some music and some TV. I think “The Princess Bride” is planned for tonight (Inconceivable!) If you don’t know this film, I’d heartily recommend you seeking it out without further ado. It is a perfect family film.

It’s strange but I always feel one should eat fairly simply, and preferably vegetarianly, on Christmas Eve – I wonder if this is something left over from my childhood? So last year’s discovery of the French Graisse de Noel soup fits perfectly with this. Here’s a link to the recipe (in French) So we’re having that for our “tea” tonight, with maybe a smidgeon of pannetone!

For lunch I have fancied up an old recipe which I found in my ancient recipe book. It was a very simple receipe from a Waitrose recipe card. Here’s my “enhanced” version:

  • Jar of marinaded peppers
  • tin of tomatoes
  • green olives (a couple of spoonfuls)
  • parsley
  • aubergine
  • mushroom
  • mozzarella

Whizz the peppers, parsley, olives and tomatoes together with a blender. Season to taste.

Thickly slice the aubergine (For two of us I sliced one aubergine into 8 slices.) Brush with olive oil and bake until softish.

Pour the pepper/tomato sauce into an ovenproof dish. I topped with grated parmesan because I had some to use up.

Slice the mozzarella into 4 thick slices. Slice the mushroom crossways to make big rounds.

Put a slice of aubergine onto the sauce, then a slice of mozzarella, then a slice of mushroom, then the other slice of aubergine. Repeat until you have two stacks per person.

Add a little grated cheese. I also added some truffle flavoured olive oil because why not?

Bake for about 30 minutes at about 180°

Ready for the oven – if you enlarge the photo, you might be able to read the original recipe.

We’re going to have this with some corn bread from the bakers’.

This afternoon, I’m thinking I may crank my heater up a bit, and curl up in my Slanket with some choccies and a book. It’s a grey and drizzly day outside, so I think that may be the cheeriest thing to do!

Praise to the Light of Light

To welcome God’s light into the world, I share with you an Advent hymn of adoration from the Syrian Orthodox Church:

Praise to the divine Light

Praise to the Light of Light

Praise to the Light of Life

Praise to the Light of the World

Praise to our Light

Eternal Light, shining beyond the heavens, radiant Son, even into our very hearts

You illumine our lives, allowing us to see You

You enlighten us, allowing us to know You

You came to dispel the darkness of our Lives.

Thank you for coming to enlighten us to the splendour of your Love.

 

 

Happy Christmas!

THE WICKED FAIRY AT THE MANGER

by U.A.FANTHORPE

My gift for the child:

No wife, kids, home;
No money sense. Unemployable.
Friends, yes. But the wrong sort —
The workshy, women, wogs,
Petty infringers of the law, persons
With notifiable diseases,
Poll tax collectors, tarts;
The bottom rung.
His end?
I think we’ll make it
Public, prolonged, painful.

Right, said the baby. That was roughly
What we had in mind.

 

 

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

I wish all those who take time to come and read what I have written a very Happy Christmas.

Christmas Song N° 8

Here’s a carol I’d forgotten about, until I saw it suggested on a resources-for-church page, suggesting it as a possible song for yesterday. It is a song that I love, but which isn’t really sung that often.  It is an ancient hymn, originally written by the Roman poet Aurelius Prudentius in 348. It reminds us not so much of the humility and impoverished beginnings of Christ’s life, as many carols do, but rather the glory and the praise that will be when he comes to reign.

So here is a hauntingly beautiful rendition, followed by a rather joyous Celtic-inspired instrumental version

Of the Father’s love begotten

Ere the worlds began to be

He is Alpha and Omega,

He the Source, the Ending He

Of the things that are, that have been

And that future years shall see

Evermore and evermore

 

O ye heights of heaven, adore Him

Angel hosts, His praises sing

Powers, dominions, bow before Him

And extol our God and King

Let no tongue on earth be silent

Every voice in concert ring

Evermore and evermore

 

This is He whom Heaven-taught singers

Sang of old with one accord

Whom the Scriptures of the prophets

Promised in their faithful word

. Now He shines, the Long-expected

Let creation praise its Lord

Evermore and evermore

 

 

Christmas Song N°7

This is one of my favourite carols, sung by the choir at Winchester Cathedral. As I was at Teacher Training College in Winchester it seemed a suitable version! Sadly, in this world today, the words seem so apt, reminding us that, so often we block our ears to the call of God.

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
‘Peace on the earth, good will to men, ‘
From heav’n’s all-gracious King.
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing!
Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long,
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love song which they bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing!
Still thro’ the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurl’d;
And still their heav’nly music floats
O’er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hov’ring wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.
All ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look, now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing:
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!
For lo! the days are hast’ning on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing!