Gifts and Crafts Hodgepodge

You guys know I usually take a lot of time to put together as comprehensive a “gift idea” post, around this time of year.

But I am just so swamped, and so up against a hard deadline, and so brain-fried, I wonder if you will mind if I dispense with the chatty stuff and just give you links to explore? Yes? Then here we go!

Books, books, books: I am totally into giving books this year, and that’s largely because I have so many great ones to recommend to you:

For a close (really close) friend–a book I love, and one that will really communicate that your friendship has meaning for you–Mary DeTurris Poust’s Walking Together; Discovering the Catholic Tradition of Spiritual Friendship

For fans of Benedict XVI: Two books, the first being (unsurprisingly) Light of the World, which I am reading right now and finding to be remarkable. It’s about so much more than condoms. But for a book on what others think of our pope, look at Benedict XVI; Essays and Reflections on his Papacy. Excellent essays, edited by Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, and gorgeous photos: a nice gift for any Benedict fan, but especially nice, perhaps, for Grandparents and parents, friends in ministry, etc.

Full of Grace: I called this “gorgeous and glorious”, and that’s what it is. Beautiful book for Mom, for anyone who loves Mary.

For Busy Women: Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s A Catholic Woman’s Book of Prayers. This is a pretty little book that will slip neatly into a stocking, or across the table as you’re having a cup of coffee with someone. The print is a little small, though, so if you’re looking for a little something for “not-so-young” eyes, you might like Amy Welborn’s A Catholic Woman’s Book of Days, which is also pretty and prayerful, but with larger print! There is also Danielle Bean and and Elizabeth Foss’ Small Steps for Catholic Moms

For Ponderers: Revelation of the Magi; The Lost Tale of the Wise Men’s Journey to Bethlehem, by Brent Landau. I have read this twice already and am still digesting it, but this is the only English translation of an ancient manuscript that claims to be written by the Magi, themselves. Yeah, I know! It’s fascinating, enlightening and lyrically beautiful in some places. I hope to have time, soon, to address some of Landau’s expressed thoughts, (do check out the Patheos Book Club where the book is currently under discussion) but if you know someone whose faith is not easily threatened and who is willing to wonder a little, this is the book!

Or, from my sidebar, this might be a good choice for curious minds.

So glad I wasn’t going to comment! :::Eyeroll::: I can never shut up.

For Guys: Frank: The Voice, by James Kaplan is fantastic; I read an excerpt and can’t wait to read more. And it made me dig out my Sinatra CD’s so I could listen to his voice dance around the horns, like a trombone.

For Little Kids: Holy Heroes!. A nice collection of coloring books, easy-to-read, videos, CD’s and more – even audio rosaries meant for kids.

I also like this Book of Saints, aka Heroes for kids.

For a Young Man: Tarek Saab’s Gut Check: Confronting Love, Work, & Manhood.

You have no idea how difficult it is to find a female counterpart to this, but Breakfast With the Pope, which is a novel about a young woman who “woke up one morning in the romantic Italian hillside near the ancient village of Castel Gandolfo and had breakfast with Pope John Paul II.” It sounds both cute and kind of intriguing.

For Patriot Adventurers and history fans: I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t had time to read it, but I got a copy of John J. Stevens’ historical novel, Fire Island in the mail and just glancing through it I thought it looked well-researched and fun – especially loved the cross-hatched illustrations. Particularly of interest to New Yorkers, and Long Islanders, I think.

The Latest in Chant: Yes, chant. I like Chanting the Psalms; a Practical Guide with CD and–since I prefer male voices in chant to females (I understand it is precisely the opposite for many men)–I still think this is the best modern chant recording ever laid down, but I have to admit, these Benedictine Nuns in France are awfully, awfully gorgeous. What a tone! The samples are really wonderful!

Don’t forget Disorientation; How to Go to College Without Losing Your Mind as a stocking stuffer, for your college students returning home for the Christmas break!

And a few really special items: The Abbey Psalter, from Genesee, or the Gospel and Acts of the St. John’s hand-illustrated bible (or any of the books from that remarkable work)!

Hot Sauces: No, really – I give my Elder Son hot sauces of varying degree every Christmas, now. Gypsy Juice, I am told, is not over-hot but tangy and very tasty, while the Holy Orders Monk Sauce of Subiaco Abbey (Arkansas) is pretty darned hot. Pretty. Darned. Hot.

Monastery Mustard: The Hallelujah Jalepeno is still my favorite, but the Devoutly Dill is still gangbusters on salmon!

Soaps, Cremes, Lotions: I admit, over the course of the year, I have tried other monastic soaps and creams, and some are very nice, if a little fast-melting, but the Summit Dominicans stuff is still the best, hands down! Their cremes are especially good. Our whole family is wild about the new hand soaps. And, I still maintain they have the best. lipbalm. evah.

Coffee: No, come on, really…you didn’t think I was going to talk Christmas gifts and not tell you–again–to give everyone at work, at school, at church and in the family coffee, coffee, coffee. Soap, hand cremes, candy, hot sauce–that’s all good, and not everyone likes coffee, and yes, you should mix things up a bit–but my husband is already hearing from the admins: “don’t even think about not bringing us stuff from theMystic Monks!”

So, you know…if you gave coffee last year, don’t make the admins mad. Get some for them this year, too.

Candy: I happened to speak with one of the Trappistine nuns from Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey today about something else, and she mentioned that the candy orders have to get in because they’re running full-steam!

Bonsai: The Trappist Monks in Conyers, Georgia do bonsai trees. We owe one to someone; we killed her other one by over-watering it (and yet she does not learn not to leave her plants in our keeping!)

Christmas Cards & Crafty Things:

Some might remember that last year the All Saints Sisters of the Poor crossed the Tiber, en masse, and became a Roman Catholic community. They are rather famous for their Greeting cards and Christmas Cards, so if you’re looking for something a little different, you might stop in there!

Make a Jesse Tree. Looks like fun!

More super-easy crafts to keep the kids going.

Finally, a Christmas Appeal (pdf): The Summit Dominicans need a new sound-system for the public side of their chapel but it will cost a back-breaking $18,000 dollars. They’re asking for small donations from anyone who can help, and they’re offering a cute 11 x 17 2011 calendar. They explain the need here.

As ever, purchases you make at Amazon or Mystic Monk Coffee via this site help keep Buster in textbooks. It’s more appreciated than you know!

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