Make homemade vanilla extract now for Christmas gifts!

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Last year, we gave a bunch of people homemade vanilla extract for Christmas. Was it appreciated? I have no idea. But we kept a bunch for ourselves, and it is wonderful. Here's our current personal stash:It was quite cheap, and you can really taste the difference in recipes over store bought vanilla extract. (The boys also add a bit to their mice's drinking water a few times a month, to make them stink a bit less. In theory.)Best of all, it's SUPER EASY. The only hard part is thinking … [Read more...]

Epiphany, you’re on your own.

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"Keep that tree up until Epiphany!" they keep saying. "It's still Christmas, you know! Don't take down that tree yet!" they keep saying. They are imagining something like this:O, Holy Night!Whereas what hulks in our living room is more along these lines:Oh, holy crap.Epiphany, you're on your own. … [Read more...]

Mother and Child: A Christmas Gallery of Original Art

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Merry Christmas, everybody! I offered up Midnight Mass for all of you, especially for anyone who is lonely or grieving or in pain today. Thanks for another wonderful year of company.Over at the Register today, nine artists have graciously shared their lovely Madonna and Child artwork with us. Here is just one, by 16-year-old painter Noyuri Umezaki:  Check out the rest here.  … [Read more...]

Cheap and Easy Christmas Things that Even You Can Do!

paper ornament

I assume you're already doing all the religious stuff, and have already bought, made, figured out, or given up on gifts. Here are a bunch of other nice Christmasy things you can do pretty easily, using materials that you may actually have in your house and skills you can probably muster up even at this stage of your life. SOMETHING SWEET TO EAT:Fudge recipe that doesn't require a candy thermometer.Can be dressed up with various nuts, crushed candies, flavored chips ( … [Read more...]

Gift-Giving is so Catholic!

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 We don't want to convey to our kids that love can be bought on Amazon; but we also shouldn't try to persuade them that love is some kind of nebulous, moonshiny, spiritual quality that has very little to do with their everyday experiences. Rather than turning Christmas into a story about God vs. Happiness, the trick is to turn love and giving into part of one seamless idea.Read the rest at the Register.  … [Read more...]

Loving the adult Jesus

Christmas is the infancy of the Faith, and most people find it pretty easy to be happy about about their Faith at this time of year -- at least in the good moments. Even when the season is stressful or exhausting, most of us at least occasionally taste those golden moments where the music is right, the candles are glowing, we're finally holding a mug of something hot, finally hearing the happy murmurs of the baby in the manger.  At the best moments, we love Christmas, baby Jesus loves us, and it … [Read more...]

Zero Foolproof Gift Ideas for the Man You Claim to Love; or, Simply Having a Wonderful Chickentime

man opening present

Is it my imagination, or is the Catholic internet just bristling with lists of gift ideas for men this year? Are there suggestion lists like this for women's gifts?  Is it my silly little lady imagination going all kookie again, or is it actually fairly easy to buy presents for women?  Of course it's  possible to go astray, but most women will tell you exactly what they want, if you ask them.  Then what you do is you go out and buy or make or get or do that, and then either add an unexpected upg … [Read more...]


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