Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fleece Angels

On the eve of a new year, I wanted to wish all blog readers a very blessed rest of the Christmas season with this lovely fleece angel from my friend Melissa Yoder Ricks of Wild Hare Fiber Studio. Melissa spins her own wool from all-natural fibers and knits and creates unique and lovely items, everything from hand-dyed yarn (I bought some for knitting friends this Christmas) to luxurious cashmere shawls. In addition, she is a Catholic mom trying to raise a large family in less than ideal circumstances. Feel free to check out her etsy shop, and if you like what you see, add her to your treasury!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Buffet

We had a wonderfully relaxed Christmas this year, paradoxically, for it was full of guests, cooking, and good food, and little sleep. But God seemed to direct the schedule, and each thing came in its time. This morning I decided to leave our holiday dishes on the table so that eating could remain spontaneous and easy as the mood strikes a family member. Also because I am loving the way everything looks so nicely laid out. May God bless your family during this Christmas season!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Silk Dyeing Party!

What an atypical holiday party -- no low lights, no cool clothes, and no food! But what fun we had! Last year some other moms and I held a "silk dyeing party" to make play silks for our children for Christmas, and it was lovely!
I am a big fan of play silks, large squares of silk that children can use as capes, costumes, or drapes for play houses. These silks retail for about $10 each, but a few years ago I discovered that Dharma Trading sells plain white hemmed Habatoi silk scarves for as low as $3.50 each. I made a small investment in getting Procion dyes and the necessary chemicals (Turquoise, Fuchsia Red, and Lemon Yellow will give you all the colors of the rainbow if you mix them) and started vat dyeing my own scarves years ago. Then a friend told me about microwave dyeing, and the idea of having a scarf-dyeing Christmas party was conceived. (Check my blog here for instructions on how to dye in a microwave.)
So last year we held the party, and it was a fun evening that yielded many lovely scarves, including a Great Silk Rainbow made from nine yards of Dharma's 8 mm silk. And I couldn't resist photographing the scarves drying in the dishdrain. After being laundred, the colors were more delicate but still true.
We're holding our second annual party this year, and I'm looking forward to it. For a cost-effective stocking-stuffer that will enhance your young child's imagination, consider dyeing your own silks!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Ave Fit Ex Eva!

Happy feast of the Immaculate Conception! Today at Mass I had an inspiration to pick up a few little treats to celebrate our Lady's conception. For afternoon snack I served soda clear as water in honor of Mary's purity, oranges for the flames of the Holy Spirit, and yoghurt-covered pretzels that remind us of the Virgin's arms crossed in prayer. Silver and a blue-silk scarf for our statue of our Lady completed the place setting. The medieval song delighted in the palindrome of "Eva" becoming "Ave": Mary's "yes" reversed Eve's "no," just as the Latin "Eva" (Eve) spelled in reverse is "Ave" (Hail, the first word of the Angelic Salutation).

So today we sing with the medievals, "Ave has come out of Eva!" Ave Fit Ex Eva!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Wanted: Bears for Joshua

As we have done for the past two years, I will be collecting teddy bears to donate to charity in memory of my son Joshua Michael, whose family nickname was "Joshua Bear." Last year, the bears went to Be Not Afraid Ministries, who gave them to parents experiencing a difficult pregnancy. I have emailed them to ask if they'd like more bears: if not, I will be looking for a different charity to send them to. Please let me know if you have any suggestions!

If you'd like to contribute, please mail medium or smaller-size brown or beige teddy bears (please no white or pastel or colored! These are "boy" bears :) ), either new or good-as-new (they can definitely be "played with" and "handled" but they probably shouldn't be in such bad condition that a thrift store would refuse to sell them), that we can use to decorate our tree and then pass on to a good cause after the holiday season.

If you have any bears you'd like to pass on to me, you can mail them to me at:

Regina Doman - Bears for Joshua
P. O. Box 949
Front Royal, VA 22630

If you need a street address for UPS, email me at regina@reginadoman.com and I'll send you one.

So if you come across any extra teddies in your housecleaning, toy downsizing, or Christmas sales, feel free to pass them on to me! Thank you!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Abundance out of Simplicity

How to create abundance out of simplicity? That is the magic I attempt to create each Christmas. Abundance, because Christmas is about the abundance of God's blessings: symbolized by the diversity and array of the ornaments on the Christmas tree. Simplicity, because we are an American family, and material goods of every description are constantly drawn to us as though by magnetism.

On the one hand, we dread being awash in piles of useless clutter that clogs the rhythmn of our lives and gluts our senses. On the other hand, we both need and desire various material goods, goods which bring a pleasure of their own and which have either a usefulness or a beauty that delights us. Navigating the pulls of both poles is the feat we attempt each holiday season.

How to celebrate poverty with abundance, simplicity with festivity -- that is the paradox of preparation for Christmas.

One time-tested strategy we've adopted is the Rule of Three Gifts: our little Lord Jesus only received three gifts Himself: gold, frankincense, and myrrh, so our children receive the same (plus a stocking). And we warn them to only set their heart on one gift, and be open to what else they might recieve. Thus, they only ask for one, knowing they will only get three.

Last year I wrapped each of the three gifts in a different color paper, stacked them into a pyramid, and tied the stack with thin red ribbon. To create abundance with three gifts, I try to make each a different sort of gift that can be used in a different way: for instance, a fun book, a toy, and a pretty piece of clothing.

This past year our three girls received decorative clog boots from Hanna Andersson that I had miraculously caught on clearance. I packed colored felt, wool, and pipe cleaners into tin boxes for the older girls along with small craft books. My younger daughter was delighted by a Kusi doll from Nova Natural. And is traditional, they each received a fairy tale book from their father and I. Small dolls, accessories, and candy crept their way into the stockings.

My older son received a longer book, computer equipment, and the remote control toy he had his eye on. His younger brother received wooden horses for his knights, a book and CD on knights, and was surprised by a racetrack set from his godfather. (The latter gift did not survive Christmas week, but provided hours of family entertainment while it lasted.)

Gifts beyond three are given to the family at large, or saved for Epiphany. Typically any gift that arrives via mail or visit during the Twelve Days of Christmas is stockpiled for Epiphany. These gifts are the "surplus" that come out of God's blessings, and yes, sometimes there are more gifts on Epiphany than on Christmas! God has His own way of creating abundance.