Concert Report and Scrooge Sighting

Kym here again, and yes, this is after Jen has returned. I’ve been meaning to write this all week, and time has not permitted until now.

First the Scrooge(s) sighting. Dean and I were downtown Sacramento, literally across the street from the capitol building for a concert last week. It was Saturday, December 28. Now I realize it was after Christmas, but only by a few days. There was not one “holiday” light, no tree, no nothing at the capitol building. Nada. While our state government might have been trying to impress all of us with how much they are saving by not lighting Christmas lights, knowing how they are, I think it is much more likely that we are surrounded by grinches and scrooges. Jerks.

Anyway, on to the concert report. We saw Straight No Chaser. It was a fabulous show. I’ve liked them for a couple of years, and Dean was willing to go with me, and we both had a good time. The first half was not Christmas music, but all kinds of other things – some medleys, some fun stuff, and silliness throughout. The second half was all Christmas, which was delightful. The audience was laughing the whole time, both at the music and at the shenanigans happening on stage.

During the intermission I was able to get a couple of CDs and a t-shirt. My very first concert t-shirt ever! They definitely know their fanbase (fat middle aged women) because they had shirts in my size (3X) and in purple. After the show, I got one of the CD jackets signed by all the guys. It was terrific. If you get a chance to see them, I highly recommend it.

I’d had my hair and makeup done, since this was a big date night for the two of us, and I’d been gifted with a hair/makeup certificate at a local salon. So I looked good. I felt good. And this turned out to be very important because we bumped into an ex of mine. I was able to have the attitude of “see what you missed out on?” It is kind of fun to be able to gloat that way. When the ex tried to invite himself to dinner with Dean and I, I told him it was a special date night for us. And it was – but while we were at dinner, we figured out that it was an extra special date. 13 years ago last Saturday night was the first time Dean and I met IRL. We’d been emailing and talking for months, but that date was the first face time we’d had.

Oh, and the concert was at The Crest Theater, one of the first movie palaces built in Sacramento. The architecture and decor were amazing. I took some pictures, but they didn’t come out well.

Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome back Jen.

Italian Christmas Traditions

Thanks Jen for letting me Guest Post during your Sabbatical! Here is another post about Family Holiday Traditions

Growing up holidays were always a pretty big deal. I’m 3/4 Italian. My dad was Italian on both sides and my Mom was 1/2 Italian (her mom was Italian and her dad was English)..but lets face it 90% of the traditions she has are italian as her grandma also lived with them most of her life. My great-grandparents were never divorced but lived separately for MANY years…my grandmother was very Catholic and was of a generation that didn’t believe in divorce.

Every Christmas for as long as I remember we’ve made the same things. Italian Cookies, Butter Cookies, and homemade Raviolis. And every year when we make them we tell stories of how my grandmother and great grandmother used to make them differently. Several years ago my Aunt made everyone a binder of all my great-grandmother’s christmas recipes we use it every year.

2013-12-13 22.45.24

This year was no different. We made Italian Cookies.2013-12-18 23.13.49and as my mom iced them we joked about the way my great grandmother used to take a knife and individually ice each cookie…and we are way too impatient for that and just dunk the cookies into the icing (it’s a very thin icing).?Some years we went to NY to visit relatives and my cousins and I would make the cookies together. This year we exchanged text messages and photos of our cookies.?
christmastextsAll of our cookies:?HOLIDAY BAKINGThe way we make Ravioli’s has changed since my great-grandmother’s time. She used to use nothing but a rolling pin and a pasta board….yeah we tried that once and didn’t get very far….we now use the pasta attachments for the Kitchenaid (and let me tell you what used to be an all day affair is now done in less than 2 hours) and this year we added the ravioli attachment. I haven’t decided how I like that attachment yet…Ravioli MakingChristmas Eve was also a pretty big deal. We always celebrated the Feast of the Seven Fishes. I honestly never knew where this tradition came from. I just knew you either had 7 fish dishes to represent the 7 sacraments or 12 for the 12 disciples. However this year I decided to google about the feast and I found this website. And according to tradition back in the day Christmas Eve used to be a penitential day (similar to Good Friday) and many Italian Catholics didn’t eat meat until after they received communion at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.?2013-12-24 20.27.10I shared the article with my mom and this is what she had to say,?

The people from Naples are famous for their elaborate spreads of cold shellfish cocktails and hot fish dishes, as well as the?roasted peppers?and?antipasti.?—- ha ha that’s where i get it from…my grandmother was from a mountain town not far from naples/foggia italy

One thing I have learned over the years is no matter how old I get and whether we have dinner for 3 or dinner for 30 on Christmas Day the traditions are very important to me. It’s weird to have Christmas and not do any baking…even if we only make one batch of cookies. Every year we tell the same stories about how things used to be and how Grandma and Great-Grandma did things differently and laugh at their crazy stories. It’s a fun way to spend time together and I wouldn’t have the holidays any other way.?

Beth Anne is a single catholic blogger that blogs about the single life, being catholic, her love for Disney, her frugal adventures, her crazy cats, and other adventures she comes across. She lives in historical St. Augustine, FL and once received a postcrossing postcard that told her her city was like living in a Fairytale :). She blogs at and tweets @BethAnnesBest 

PSA for Tomorrow

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. Dean and I are planning a quiet night at home. Since neither of us drink (I’m a diabetic, he’s 17 years sober), the party scene just isn’t our gig. In fact, Dean calls NYE “amateur night.” But for the rest of the country, here’s an important PSA, and “Ricky don’t lose that number.”

NO excuses. Don??t drink and drive ??
and don??t ride with anybody who does.
Tipsy Tow, offered by AAA: You don??t
have to be a AAA member. From 6pm ?? 6am on
New Year??s Eve/Day they will take your
drunk self and your car home for FREE.
Save this number . . . 1-800-222-4357. Please
re-post this to help save lives.


New Old Traditions

One difficult aspect of the holidays in early parenthood is figuring out how to blend the traditions of two different families. I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to do this is not to adopt traditions of the mother’s or father’s family of origin, but to start brand new traditions for your own young family. There are many holiday traditions that families create that are unique to their families but I am attracted to old traditions that are rich in meaning but have largely gone by the wayside in our modern culture. During the holiday season, my husband and I have decided to “bring back” two old cultural traditions with our family:

St. Nicholas Day – Largely abandoned in favor of Santa Claus visiting on Christmas Eve, St. Nicolas traditionally left gifts in children’s shoes on the eve of his feast day, Dec. 6th. This was the second year St. Nicholas brought small gifts to Lucia (this year, gifts consisted of a book and felt St. Nicholas doll, last year was a felt Advent wreath).
St. Nicholas gifts
We also read The Baker’s Dozen and in the future I hope to incorporate even more into the celebration in the form of speculaas cookies, movies about St. Nicholas (I’m thinking this one may be Lucia’s St. Nicholas gift next year), and volunteering/donating on or around his feast day in honor of the generosity of this early Bishop. If you would like more examples of St. Nicholas celebrations or the reasons behind why many families are bringing back this celebration, here are a few other references and blog posts to refer to:
The St. Nicholas Center
New Shoes and St. Nicholas Day – Carrots for Michaelmas
St Nicholas Day is tomorrow, and why it’s worth adopting (or inventing) family traditions – Modern Mrs. Darcy
Celebrating St. Nicholas, the real Santa Claus – The Art of Simple

La BefanaA friend first introduced me to the Italian custom of La Befana but it wasn’t until I read Tomie dePaola’s book, The Legend of Old Befana that I saw the simple beauty of the old woman who left gifts in children’s stockings.
La Befana
As the legend goes, La Befana set out to bring homemade cookies and sweets to the Christ Child since, as a poor woman, this was all she could afford. She never found him though and every year still searches for him on the night of Jan. 5th, eve of the Epiphany. Since she doesn’t know which child might be the Christ, she leaves sweets for all children. The Epiphany is the feast celebrating the visit of the Three Wise Men to the baby Jesus and wraps up the twelve days of Christmas in the Christian liturgical calendar. I love the idea of a small treat for children on this day in the tradition of the Wise Men and also to keep the joy of Christmas and anticipation alive after Christmas Day. This will be our first year celebrating it and we will be doing it simply with a few of Lucia’s favorite snacks left out for her. We haven’t done much to celebrate the Epiphany in the past and are hoping that this will be a small step toward a larger celebration.

Mandi is a 20-something trying to live out her vocations of marriage, motherhood, and womanhood with the help of a glass of cheap red wine, a few good books, and an afternoon nap. She blogs at Messy Wife, Blessed Life and is pleased as punch to help her dear friend Jen during her blogging sabbatical.

It’s Christmas Eve

The countdown has started. It will end tomorrow morning when everyone gets up and opens presents. But between now and then, are you watching and waiting? We will be going to our “Midnight” lessons and carols (starts at 10:30pm and ends at midnight) as part of the vigil. I think the Christmas Eve service is one of my favorites, with all the candles, and passing the flame one to the next.

One of my favorite verses for this time of year is not from the Gospels, nor from the prophets. It is Galatians 4:4-5, which says:

4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

I love the phrase “fullness of time” – I don’t know why, I just do.

Merry Christmas

And now for some intro stuff. My name is Kym, I’ve been happily married for 12 years to Dean. We live in a teensy tiny town (pop. 250) in the Tahoe National Forest (western slope of the California Sierra Nevada mountains). We go to church at Emmanuel Episcopal church in Grass Valley. We have 5 spoiled rotten cats. Jen and I first started chatting when she was in Minnesota. I’ve actually met her in person once – I’d been in a horrific car accident and she came to visit me in the hospital.