Prayer Feed

Gratitude & Remembrance (November Crafts)

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Hello and Happy Thursday, my friends! I hope your November is off to a great start!

I posted the above picture on Facebook and Instagram, because I find it so inspiring when craft supplies are organized for a particular season or month. I don't always have them so well-ordered but I do like to keep items stored in seasonal groupings when possible. This is my "stash" for November and I thought I'd share what we got up to these past couple of days ... :)

November is the month for remembering our blessings and expressing our thanks, and like many families we enjoy keeping a "gratitude project" of some sort in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. There are all kinds of variations on this annual activity, but I kept things super-simple this year ...

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A grapevine heart ($8 at Michaels Arts & Crafts), hung up with some twine, and autumn leaves cut from colorful cardstock ...

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I hung the wreath on our kitchen/dining room door and each day we'll write down our blessings and add a leaf (or leaves) to the wreath. We're only two leaves in now, but I added extras as seen above to show you the overall affect. I think our "Thankful Heart" is rather pretty!

I placed the extra paper leaves in a small box along with a pen and left it on our kitchen table. Hopefully this will remind us to record our blessings around the supper table each night.

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And yesterday (Nov. 2nd) was the feast of All Souls (also known as the Day of the Dead). One of these years we will make the traditional sugar skulls symbolic of this Mexican feast day, but this was not that year. Instead, I used some cupcake liners decorated with colorful skulls (found at Target) ...

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... and made up some "harvest" muffins with that applesauce I told you about in my Halloween post, as well as some mashed squash ...

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... and four beautiful eggs laid by my chickens!

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I try to keep muffins low in sugar but for today's feast I added some simple icing and a pretty chrysanthemum from the garden:

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(Marigolds are actually the traditional Day of the Dead flowers, but my little calendula plant - aka pot marigold - stopped blooming some time ago. I will try to keep next year's plant alive in a sunny window just for this feast day!)

But the muffins were quite a hit with the boys who enjoyed theirs with apple cider, while I had mine with a hot cup of orange spiced tea. All the flavors and smells seemed so autumnal and it was a gorgeous morning, too - so warm and breezy. I had my kitchen window open as I worked and just savored such a blessed day. And baking those muffins really made me think of my grandmother, who was well known for her delicious pink applesauce. In particular, as I milled the apples, my mind was on Gram ... I was using kitchen tools that once belonged to her!

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All I could think was Grama, I hope you can see me and how much you have inspired me. I hope you know just how much I admired you and how your love and vision lives on in my heart and my home even now. Goodness I miss her ...

Anyhoo ... here's another Day of the Dead decoration, a little planter my brother gave me last month:

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So fun! I keep it on my kitchen windowsill. That's an aloe plant growing there ... hopefully I'll keep it alive!

Now, in Catholic tradition, November is dedicated to praying for the Holy Souls. So on the first of this month I set up a small remembrance altar so that we may honor our loved ones who have passed away. I've done this in a windowsill in recent years but this year I decided to devote our living room mantle to the project.

I started with some particle board letters ...

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I bought these at Michaels for $1.49 each and painted them in a soft bronze shade. While they dried (where Little Bear couldn't reach) I got to work on the rest of the altar items - photos, candles and flowers. I have several vases in my collection but I wanted something small, so I made up some simple vases from things I had on hand ...

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These are glass votive candleholders (about $1 at craft stores), along with a bit of sheer ribbon, some rustic twine and small beige doilies.

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I wrapped the green ribbon around each glass twice (securing the ends with a hot glue gun), then wrapped and tied the twine around the middle. The doilies are just lightly glued to the bottom of the glass. (And as you can see I had my usual assistant close at paw hand ... keeping his eye on that twine, sneaky thing that it is ... with all that twisting and twirling.)

Then added more of those orange mums ...

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These fit in nicely with the other remembrance items, but I think they would also be lovely on a Thanksgiving table. Or possibly even a Christmas gift - a paperwhite bulb stuck in some pebbles? I don't know if the glass would be too small, but I think it would be very pretty.

For this annual project I have some small photos of our late loved ones which I display in tiny metal holders (prayer card holders actually - purchased a long time ago at a local Catholic gift shop). But I found I was one short, so I made up a makeshift photo stand with a small binder clip!

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And lastly the candles, which we light as we pray for our dear ones ...

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I have plenty of real candles on hand - some of them blessed at church on Candlemas - but because I have curious cats and young kids about, I decided to stick with battery-lit tea lights this year. 

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I really love how the altar came out. I laid down a wide "ribbon" of burlap before setting it up and hung a garland of autumn leaves just under the mantle edge. I placed our Halloween roses on either end along with some white miniature pumpkins and our beeswax candlesticks ... plus a few Thanksgiving decorations. :)

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I am always fond of projects that involve candlelight, but especially so at this time of year. The days are short and dark and we can all use a little brightening as winter nears. As the year ends we watch nature dwindle and fade - reminding us that our own lives will end just as surely someday. But in the midst of that sadness comes human love and our memories and God's love and our prayers ...

I found this quote the other day and felt so moved by it:

"How can the dead be truly dead when they still live in the souls of those who are left behind?"

(From The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, a book I never read but I sure love that sentiment.)

Traditional prayers are deeply meaningful, of course - but I like to think our every loving thought and memory is a prayer in its own right. Feeling my Grama as I cooked those Macintosh apples and lifted my face to that warm window breeze - is something that is not only good for her soul, but mine. I pray for my loved ones all the time, but I hope I do them as great an honor by living my life by their example, with their unconditional love in my heart. 💛

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Now, it was supposed to be Mexican for supper last night, but I didn't have all the appropriate ingredients on hand ... so American Chop Suey it was ... and with garlic bread, no less! Tonight is a catch-up night with assorted leftovers and grilled cheese sandwiches. Maybe some soup, too ... it's quite rainy and dark out there! Leaves are blowing about and the hens have tucked themselves away for the night. But our lights are lit and our den is warm, so it's all good here ... 

November really is a lovely month. :)

Thanks so much for stopping by my friends ... see you here again very soon!


Prayers, Please, for Earlybird

My friends, this afternoon I am counting my blessings after an absolutely harrowing morning ... and I am asking for your prayers.

Earlybird had a seizure at 3 a.m. - he fell out of bed and was completely unresponsive. At first we had no idea what was wrong but they were without a doubt, the scariest moments of my life. We called 911, and he was taken by ambulance first to a local hospital and then into Children's in Boston. Everyone who worked with him/us was wonderful. So caring and kind. 

Bottom line - he's OK and we're home. There are no effects from the seizure, and he is 100% himself (and was good as GOLD throughout all of this) but we are having further testing done asap: an e.e.g. as well as an MRI. Those will come in the next week or so. I would so appreciate your prayers as we try to figure this all out and hope he has no further episodes ... he's never had anything like this happen before.

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Thank you, God, for hearing my fervent and frenzied prayers this morning ... for comforting me and giving me strength to focus and "keep it together." For my husband who rode with EB and took charge of the hospitalization. For my folks who came immediately to be with us, and support us, in whatever way we needed ... and for our Crackerjack who was such a big help - especially with Little Bear.

Most of all, thank you God for our beautiful, brave and sweet Earlybird. For that dear boy who thanked every doctor and nurse who poked, prodded and queried him. Who waited patiently for hours in a tiny exam room ... and who is sitting at his computer right now, with his snacks and his comic books, just so pleased to be home. Please continue to watch over our dear son ... as well as all his brothers.

**

I'll of course keep you all posted, and thank you in advance for your prayers!


In Today's Homily ...

Advent candles lit

... our pastor reflected on the season of Advent, and his words really touched me. I'm paraphasing here, because - though my memory is fuzzy these days - I felt funny whipping out my post-it-notes in the middle of Mass. ;)

"As Christians we don't just sit back and wait ... we are not a passive people ... but rather, we get ready and prepare. We actively give of ourselves in Jesus's name. In fact, the famous prayer of St. Francis is a perfect to-do list ..."

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.


O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen

Father went on to talk about the recent photo that made national news, of a NYPD officer giving a pair of boots to a homeless man. I had seen the photo of course, but today, the story behind the photo really moved me to tears. Sure, I'm hormonal but that's a truly beautiful story - and a wonderful example as well.

Advent in action right there.

:)

So Happy Advent, everyone! And Happy New Year, too! In the Catholic Faith, our new liturgical year begins today. Gosh I love those crisp new missals ...

Have a lovely Sunday my friends!


Tuesday Tidbits

Ralph Lauren to Sponsor PBS 'Masterpiece,' Create 'Downton Abbey' Ads

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Just look at all that vintage clothing - so gorgeous!

The funny thing is, I clipped this magazine ad for my journal last week ... I guess I was unknowingly drawn to that posh Downton spirit!

From the article linked above:

"Ralph Lauren’s sponsorship messages will begin Sept. 30 on PBS."

I will definitely be looking for them!

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So I'm getting a rather slow, lazy start here ... there just doesn't seem to be enough coffee in my pot to wake me up. Well, we had a late, but wonderful, night out last night, at Bill's company's service recognition dinner. (He celebrates 15 years this year!)

A picture for posterity, if I may ...

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And I so wished I had my camera with me, because the party ambiance was just breathtaking, but Bill obliged me with a quick shot off his phone. :)

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The flowers were absolutely gorgeous! Deeply hued dahlias, set against amber- and rose- colored tablecloths and lots of cozy, flickering candles. Amazing food and delicious wine ... it was such a treat to have a night out like this. Thanks to my mum for babysitting our boys!

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And finally, but certainly most importantly, we're saying a prayer today for all those who lost their lives on 9/11, especially Chris, a friend and co-worker of Bill's. Prayers too for all those who love and miss them ...

***

Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday, my friends. I'll speak with you again very soon!



Autumn Feast Fun

First let me say thank you for all the lovely comments on my travel journal post ~ I'm so glad it made nice reading for some folks! It's hard to believe it was just a week ago today I was returning home from Maine - how time flies! And now here I am a week later, juggling a change of season, as well as a whole new set of books, schedules and plans ... we've been quite busy, but so far our year's off to a good start. :)

So in truth, I should be lesson planning right now ... but instead I'm sitting in my comfy corner chair looking over photos from the past few weeks. The following pictures were actually taken on September 14th ~ Holy Cross Day. We had some "faith at home" fun that afternoon, but I never got around to posting about it!

The first thing we did was to haul out the cross-shaped cake pan and whip up a simple box mix: 

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(Unfortunately the cake split as it cooled, but that just prompted a whole bunch of interesting thoughts and analogies.)

I also had this little craft project waiting in the wings for some time ... a very simple prayer box.

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You know the saying, "Give it over to God?" Well, that's just what this box is for. Often I'll say to the boys, "Let's make sure to remember [name or need] in our prayers" ... or ... "Let's give that problem to God and see what He comes up with." I thought it would be nice - especially for Earlybird - to have a hands-on activity to go along with those prompts. It serves as a gentle reminder for them *and me* to pray and trust in God.

This is a small unfinished wooden recipe box and a small wooden cross craft piece (both purchased at the craft store).

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We didn't bother with painting the wood - though I did have some neat glittery, golden paint on hand ... "plain" just seemed to fit with the project itself. (Not to mention most of our learning room is adorned with unfinished wood ... and paint fumes and EB don't mix well.)

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Inside I attached a prayer card on the left (a bit of the Serenity Prayer) and then set up some pieces of index card to use for prayer notes. (Any scrap paper would and will do - it's just that I had all these colorful index cards leftover from planning projects gone awry.)

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And so that was a neat and easy little project - EB helped glue the cross, attach the card and cut up the index cards. And then we added our first prayer note - for a dear friend of mine, a fellow homeschooling mom, who suffered a heart attack on Labor Day. (She's home now and doing better, but of course we're still praying for her continued healing. I'd be grateful if you'd remember "Debbie" in your prayers.)

With the craft project wrapped up, it was time to embellish the cross cake ... 

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... with good things like fresh whipped cream and homegrown raspberries!

Delicious and (hopefully) memorable. A little bit of faith at home, a little bit of chocolate ~ a very nice way to spend an autumn afternoon.

:) 

And so now we're heading into one of my favorite weeks on the Catholic calendar - we have Michaelmas (or the Feast of the Archangels), the Feast of St. Therese (special to Bill's beloved late Grammie) and the Feast of the Guardian Angels. And peeking into next week we have our family patron saint day ~ the Feast of Saint Francis ~ and it so happens our church is holding a "Blessing of the Pets" next Sunday. A wonderful activity for sure - but there is much debate over whether or not our Archie and Ollie would tolerate such an event!

(We'll probably skip the parish blessing - though I'd love to do it, I don't want to stress out my cats. We'll come up with something simple at home.)

So many fun things to honor and celebrate with the children all year round, but Autumn brings so many wonderful days like these. I'll be posting more on our plans for the coming season in another day or two ... for now though, I'd best wrap up and be off.

I hope you've all had a very nice weekend, and thanks so much for stopping by!

I'll see you all again very soon ...

:)


Prayers for Norway

Dear Friends ...

My heart is filled with sorrow for the people of Norway this morning, especially the families who lost loved ones in yesterday's shocking and tragic attacks. I have heard from Emma, a reader from Norway, that she and her loved ones are OK, and I am so glad to hear it.

To all our Norweigan friends ~ especially Gill, a dear longtime reader ~ I am thinking of you all this morning, and praying you are safe. Please drop me a note if you are able.

Our hearts are with you today Norway, and our prayers go out for your recovery and healing.

In peace & with love,

~ Dawn


Friday Facts, Fun & a Few Photos

Happy Friday, my friends!

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Today marks a very special day on the Catholic calendar: The Feast of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel visited Mary and announced the Lord's plan for her. ("Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee ...") Her answer - her yes - became Mary's hymn of praise, the beautiful Magnificat ...

And nine months later we have Christmas!

:)

Our plans for today? Earlybird and I will paint and prepare a small pot for planting (some quick-growing radish seeds). We'll explore our yard and look for signs of new life growing ... and I'm baking an "angel" food cake to serve after supper with fresh blueberries and whipped cream.

It's also International Waffle Day! (As opposed to National Waffle Day which falls on August 24th.) This is a great day to have waffles for supper! We'll have ours at breakfast, though - Bill makes fantastic waffle dippers, but those are reserved for leisurely weekend mornings. Today we'll just have some Nutri-Grain toaster waffles, a favorite staple in our freezer. 

Well, I hope you all have a lovely day ... before I go, here are some random early spring photos from the past week or two ...

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Thank you so much for stopping by ~ see you all again very soon!


Prayers for Japan ...

... and for everyone affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan overnight, as well as those areas still under threat. I also wanted to let my readers know that Sue in Japan (a fellow blogger and frequent commenter here) is OK.

Frightening news keeps pouring in this morning, and so our prayers continue. God be with all involved in the rescue and recovery efforts.

**


A Grace for Memorial Day

God of peace,

We recall today the words of Jesus,

“Blessed are the peacemakers,

they shall be called the sons and daughters of God.”

As we remember all who have died because of war,

Inspire the leaders of all nations

To turn away from war and work for peace.

Help us also to live in peace with one another,

And with peoples of every nation, race and creed.

Bless this food we share

As we celebrate this day with our family and friends.

Amen

(From Let’s Say Grace by Robert Hamma)

However you plan to celebrate - playfully, prayerfully, patriotically - I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day!