"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday Salon, December 21

Views from the Raggedy Anne tree
My Madame Alexander Raggedy Anne

My sister Grace started me on this collection of Raggedy Anne ornaments
Happy Solstice!

Weather: Grey and overcast, threatening to rain. Dark.

Cue the music. Backstory. I taught at RHS for twenty years. Every year for 20 years the school's Jazz Choir sang this song at the Winter Holidays Assembly. Both of my daughters were in the jazz choir when they were in high school so I became very familiar with this song over the years.  I had never heard this song before or since that time. My eldest daughter attended the Holiday Choir program this past week as an alumni and she reported that the select choir was still doing this song. I was happy to find this rendition, the original I think.  Enjoy. (The ending sounds a little warped, adding to its charm.)

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Christ is just four days away. At one point this past week I spent a moment of contemplating how I wasn't really in the Christmas spirit yet. Then Friday night we attended a Holiday concert put on by my cousin's daughter and her musical friends. The program was superb and I really felt lifted to a new plain, ready for Christmas in my heart. Yesterday as my daughter and I made batches of Christmas cookies we played our iTunes Holiday collection for hours upon hours of holiday songs. Music can really help bring on the holiday spirit. Like Elf says in the movie: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear!"

Book Club here: Seventeen ladies including myself attended our monthly book club this month. I was the hostess and had the house decorated special for the event. The book The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh seemed to be liked by most readers.  I think we were most touched by the thought, new to most of us, what happens to eighteen year olds who "age out" of foster care. It is really a chilling thought to think that our society pretty much just frees these kids to be on  their own when they are likely to still be in high school. The statistics for these kids aren't good either. 25% end of homeless. 60% end up having children of their own within four years with these children often ending up in foster care.  Ugh.

Pfeffernüsse debacle: Do you know these tiny little, spicy cookies? I used to make them every Christmas until my children announced that they didn't like them and their father teased me about them. Yesterday my sister-in-law posted on Facebook a photo of her Pfeffernüsse cookies ready for the oven. The thought entered my head that maybe it was time to try them again now that the children are grown. I found a recipe for them (called by another name: Peppernuts) and cajoled my daughter into helping me make them. The recipe requires heating up the corn syrup and shortening on a pot on the stove, almost like making candy. When we got to the step to stir in the flour it was a little like trying to stir flour into candy. It was not happening. When we checked the recipe we realized the reason---we forgot to add the milk, which was the only liquid. That whole batch went into the garbage can and we started again. The next time around we carefully added milk at the right time and the cookies ended up very delicious.

Christmas Checklist: With four days left I need to kick into high gear.
þ Bake cookies for neighbor gifts.
þ Mail packages to relatives
þ House decorated and lights up outside
þ Favorite holiday books, movies, and music at easy access
¨   All gifts purchased and wrapped
¨ Menu planned and food purchased
¨ Holiday cards printed and sent.

Books read this week:
  • Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh---a graphic novel I had to return because of its explicit illustrations, too much for a school library.
  • The House Without a Christmas Tree by Gail Rock---a junior book loaned me by a retired school teacher. A cute Christmas story set in the 1940s, a very different time than today.
Books currently reading:
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt---I am still working away on this tome, but it is spoiling me for wanting to read anything else. Progress: page 605 of 771, disc 21 of 26.
From the kitchen: homemade sausage/green pepper/mushroom pizza. Yum!

I hope that this holiday season finds you happy and healthy, connecting with loved ones, and with time to contemplate your spiritual side.


  1. I clicked on your "Cue the Music" link above, and as the music began to play, Steve began singing along! He knew every word and every note!!! He said they used to sing it every year in grade school. "Mrs Staub made us sing it for the Christmas program every year", he smilingly said. I loved it!! Thank you for bringing back some great memories for your cousin.

    1. Wow. That is a cool coincidence. I have never heard it except at RHS, but I have heard a lot of times. Over 20. I'm glad Steve enjoyed the memory.

  2. Thanks for finding the song. I happily sang along with it ...more than once (:

    1. It all started when we were doing a SUPER QUIZ this week that asked for the rhyming words to the poem. Carly started singing...

  3. Not sure my other comment posted since I had to log-in and then it went away: You are way ahead of me on the baking! I do Russian teacakes a few days before, but the frosted sugar cookies are best fresh, thus we're usually frosting them on Christmas Eve day. I'm plugging through the Goldfinch also and enjoying it, though I get depressed about what's happening with Theo. It is a painful book to read in spots.

    1. I am sincerely thinking about skipping ahead to the ending. It is such a tense build up with so many details. I just want Theo to come clean with everyone. Do you think that will happen?

  4. My book group enjoyed The Language of Flowers, too - eye-opening!

    I read The Goldfinch this summer and loved it - glad you are enjoying it.

    Enjoy your books this week - and the holidays!


    Book By Book

    1. We just did The Language of Flowers this month, too. Small world. I had read it a year ago for my other club. It evoked a knee-jerk reaction in me, though, since I was so appalled at the treatment of Foster kids. Sigh.

  5. I do love the holidays and it sounds as if yours were filled with fun, friends, and family. Just the way it should be!


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