December 20, 2009

25 Days of Christmas - Day 20

I've been a blog slacker... oops. :)

I've heard this story many times in slightly different forms and I'm sure some of you have also, but I love it. It's so sweet and the boy expresses such an innocent love for Joseph, Mary, and her child.

Wally was nine that year and in the second grade, though he should have been in the fourth. Most people in town knew that he had difficulty in keeping up. He was big and clumsy, slow in movement and mind.

Wally fancied the idea of being a shepherd in the Christmas pageant that year, but the play’s director, Miss Lumbard, knew that there were too many lines for Wally to memorize. So she assigned him the role of the Innkeeper who only had a couple of lines. For weeks he practiced his part and his lines. Miss Lumbard's biggest concern for the play that year was that Wally didn’t mess his part up and therefore embarrass himself.

It just so happened that the whole town had turned out the night of the big production. No one on stage or off was more caught up in the magic of the night than little Wallace Purling. Then the time came when Joseph appeared, slowly, tenderly guiding Mary to the door of the inn. Joseph knocked hard on the wooden door set into the painted backdrop. Wally the Innkeeper was there, waiting.

“What do you want?” Wally said, swinging the door open with a gruff gesture.

“We seek lodging.”

“Seek it elsewhere.” Wally looked straight ahead but spoke vigorously. “The inn is filled.”

“Sir, we have asked everywhere in vain. We have traveled far and are very weary.”

“There is no room in the inn for you.” Wally looked properly stern.

“Please, good innkeeper, this is my wife, Mary. She is heavy with child and needs a place to rest. Surely you must have some small corner for her. She is so tired.”

Now, for the first time, the Innkeeper relaxed his stiff stance and looked down at Mary. With that, there was a long pause, long enough to make the audience a bit tense with embarrassment.

“No! Begone!” the prompter whispered from behind the curtain.

“No!" Wally repeated automatically. “Begone!”

Joseph sadly placed his arm around Mary and Mary laid her head upon her husband’s shoulder and the two of them started to move away. The Innkeeper did not return inside his inn, however. Wally stood there in the doorway, watching the desperate couple. His mouth was open, his brow creased with concern, his eyes filling unmistakably with tears.

It was right then that Wally realized exactly what had happened that night. And suddenly this Christmas pageant became different from all the others.

“Don’t go, Joseph,” Wally cried out. “Bring Mary back.” And Wallace Purling’s face grew into a bright smile. “You can have my room.”

A few old grouches in tiny town thought that the pageant had been ruined. Yet most attending that night considered it the best Christmas pageant they had ever seen.

December 17, 2009

For Wendy

A couple nights ago I had a dream that I was eating some Lay's (barbeque!) potato chips and one of them had a bubble with a hole in it that was shaped like a heart. I tried to take a picture of it but couldn't get the flash to work properly.

Anyway, the reason I wanted a picture was so I could give it to Wendy for her ever so cute blog!

Apparently my subconscious likes it as well. :)

December 16, 2009

Day 16 - Dave Barry

For Dad. :)

Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it "Christmas" and went to church; the Jews called it "Hanukka" and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Hanukka!" or (to the atheists) "Look out for the wall!"

These days, people say "Season's Greetings," which, when you think about it, means nothing. It's like walking up to somebody and saying "Appropriate Remark" in a loud, cheerful voice. But "Season's Greetings" is safer, because it does not refer to any actual religion. Some day, I imagine, even "Season's Greetings" will be considered too religious, and we'll celebrate the Holiday Season by saying "Have a nice day."

Some of you may be unhappy with this dereligionizing of the Holiday Season, and you may have decided that, this year, you're going to celebrate it the old-fashioned way, with your family sitting around stringing cranberries and exchanging humble, handmade gifts, like on The Waltons. Well, you can forget it. If everybody pulled that kind of subversive stunt, the economy would collapse overnight. The government would have to intervene: It would form a cabinet-level Department of Holiday Gift-Giving, which would spend billions and billions of tax dollars to buy Barbie dolls and electronic games, which it would drop on the populace from Air Force jets, killing and maiming thousands. So, for the good of the nation, you should go along with the Holiday Program. This means you should get a large sum of money and go to a mall.

Gifts for Men

Men are amused by almost any idiot thing - that is why professional ice hockey is so popular - so buying gifts for them is easy. But you should never buy them clothes. Men believe they already have all the clothes they will ever need, and new ones make them nervous. For example, your average man has 84 ties, but he wears, at most, only three of them. He has learned, through humiliating trial and error, that if he wears any of the other 81 ties, his wife will probably laugh at him ("You're not going to wear THAT tie with that suit, are you?"). So he has narrowed it down to three safe ties, and has gone several years without being laughed at. If you give him a new tie, he will pretend to like it, but deep inside he will hate you.

If you want to give a man something practical, consider tires. More than once, I would have gladly traded all the gifts I got for a new set of tires.


December 15, 2009

25 Days of Christmas - Day 15

I love the words to this song, especially the stanza about touching the baby's hand. "Will he know we've come so far, just for his sake?"

How far is it to Bethlehem?
Not very far.
Shall we find the stable room
Lit by a star?

Can we see the little child?
Is he within?
If we lift the wooden latch
May we go in?

May we stroke the creatures there
Ox, ass, or sheep?
May we peep like them and see
Jesus asleep?

If we touch his tiny hand
Will he awake?
Will he know we've come so far
Just for his sake?

Great kings have precious gifts
And we have naught
Little smiles and little tears
Are all we brought.

For all weary children
Mary must weep
Here, on his bed of straw
Sleep, children, sleep.

God in his mother's arms
Babes in the byre
Sleep, as they sleep who find
Their heart's desire.

December 14, 2009

Day 14 - Miracle on 34th Street

Okay, if you haven't seen this movie you are really missing out on some Christmas Spirit. It is so sweet and just makes me happy when I watch it.

My favorite part is when Kris teaches Susan about imagination and they play pretend but I couldn't find a good clip to post. =/

By the way Lyle and my dad are outside putting up our Christmas lights right now. Are you excited? Because I'm excited.

December 13, 2009

Day 13

This comic made me lol. :)

Luckily I don't actually have to worry about pretty much any of this stuff, but for the mothers reading my blog...

For Better or For Worse
"He likes the inside of my mouth."

- Hugh Riggs

December 12, 2009

Day 12 - Christmas Memories

Yesterday evening I was babysitting for a family in our ward. The girls were in bed when I got there but one of them woke up an hour later crying for her mother. I brought her out, gave her some chocolate milk, and put on a Christmas cartoon for her (as suggested by her mother). As I watched her lying under a blanket on the couch I was filled with Christmas memories. They had their tree up next to the couch and some souped up carols were coming from the movie she was watching.

I can remember getting out of bed when I was younger to go sit in front of our Christmas tree, after the rest of my family was asleep. The heater was on, the smell and sound of which always remind me of Christmas. I loved sitting there watching this little girl as she fell asleep in front of the Christmas tree.

I can't wait for this Christmas when so many of my nieces and nephews will be here! (We'll miss you Jenny =/) Christmas is so much better when you have children to celebrate it with.

December 11, 2009

Day 11 - Christmas Orange

Jake was nine years old with tousled brown hair with blue eyes as bright as a heavenly angel. For as long as Jake could remember he had lived within the walls of a poor orphanage. He was just one of ten children supported by what meager contributions the orphan home could obtain in a continuous struggle seeking donations from townsfolk.

There was very little to eat, but at Christmas time there always seemed to be a little more than usual to eat, the orphanage seemed a little warmer, and it was time for a little holiday enjoyment. But more than this, there was the Christmas orange!

Christmas was the only time of year that such a rare treat was provided and it was treasured by each child like no other food admiring it, feeling it, prizing it and slowly enjoying each juicy section. Truly, it was the light of each orphan’s Christmas and their best gift of the season. How joyful would be the moment when Jake received his orange!

Unknown to him, Jake had somehow managed to track a small amount of mud on his shoes through the front door of the orphanage, muddying the new carpet. He hadn’t even noticed. Now it was too late and there was nothing he could do to avoid punishment. The punishment was swift and unrelenting. Jake would not be allowed his Christmas orange! It was the only gift he would receive from the harsh world he lived in, yet after a year of waiting for his Christmas orange, is was to be denied him.

Tearfully, Jake pleaded that he be forgiven and promised never to track mud into the orphanage again, but to no avail. He felt hopeless and totally rejected. Jake cried into his pillow all that night and spent Christmas Day feeling empty and alone. He felt that the other children didn’t want to be with a boy who had been punished with such a cruel punishment. Perhaps they feared he would ruin their only day of happiness. Maybe, he reasoned, the gulf between him and his friends existed because they feared he would ask for a little of their oranges. Jake spent the day upstairs, alone, in the unheated dormitory. Huddled under his only blanket, he read about a family marooned on an island. Jake wouldn’t mind spending the rest of his life on an isolated island, if he could only have a real family that cared about him.

Bedtime came, and worst of all, Jake couldn’t sleep. How could he say his prayers? How could there be a God in Heaven that would allow a little soul such as his, to suffer so much all by himself? Silently, he sobbed for the future of mankind that God might end the suffering in the world, both for himself and all others like him.

As he climbed back into bed from the cold, hard floor, a soft hand touched Jake’s shoulder, startling him momentarily and an object was silently placed in his hands. The giver disappeared into the darkness, leaving Jake with what, he did not immediately know!

Looking closely at it in the dim light, he saw that it looked like an orange! Not a regular orange, smooth and shiny, but a special orange, very special. Inside a patched together peal were the segments of nine other oranges, making one whole orange for Jake! The nine other children in the orphanage had each donated one segment of their own precious oranges to make a whole orange as a gift for Jake.

Sharing what we truly value is the true spirit of Christmas. Our Heavenly Father gave us His beloved Son. May we, like the children in the orphanage, find ways to share His love with others less blessed.

December 10, 2009

Day 10

This is one of my favorite Christmas songs, "What Shall We Give".

December 9, 2009

Day 9 - Butter Tarts

Yesterday I baked some "butter tarts" from this recipe that I found. They turned out pretty good, nothing special though. They take a long time to make because they have to chill for so long but they're pretty easy to make, so worth a try.

Pate Brisee (Short Crust Pastry):

1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon (14 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.54 cm) pieces
1/8 to 1/4 cup (30 - 60 ml) ice water

Pate Brisee: In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined.


Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour 1/8 cup (30 ml) water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. If necessary, add more water. Do not process more than 30 seconds.

Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about one hour before using. This will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour.


After the dough has chilled sufficiently, place on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and cut into 12 - 4 inch (10 cm) rounds. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards).) Gently place the rounds into a 12-cup muffin tin. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm up the dough. Next, make the filling.

*Blogger's Note!:
I deviated a little from the recipe here in method. I didn't measure out the cutouts, I think they might have been just a little smaller than 4 inches. I also think I must have not rolled the dough out thin enough because I only got 7 cuts from it. Lastly, I didn't use a muffin tin, but some ramekins my mom had. I've never made these before but I think it affected the cooking time.


Butter Tart Filling:

1/3 cup (70 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (215 grams) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) light cream (half-and-half) (10% butterfat)
1/2 cup raisins or 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts (toasted and chopped) (optional)

Butter Tart Filling: In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla extract. Stir in the cream.


If using nuts and/or raisins, place a spoonful in the bottom of each tart shell and then fill the unbaked tart shells with the filling.


Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 15 - 20 minutes or until the pastry has nicely browned and the filling is set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
* Again, I baked my tarts for 20 minutes but I think with a thicker crust I should have left them in longer.

Makes 12 - 4 inch tarts.
*I only had 7


December 8, 2009

25 Days of Christmas - Day 8

On Christmas Eve,
a young boy with light in his eyes,
Looked deep into Santa’s, to Santa’s surprise,
And said as he nestled on Santa’s broad knee,
“I want your secret, tell it to me.”

He leaned up & whispered in Santa’s good ear,
“How do you do it, year after year?”
“I want to know how, as you travel about,
Giving gifts here & there, you never run out.

How is it, dear Santa, that in your pack of toys,
You have plenty for all of the world’s girls & boys?
Stays so full, never empties as you make your way
From rooftop to rooftop, to homes large & small,

From nation to nation, reaching them all?
And Santa smiled kindly & said to the boy,
“Don’t ask me hard questions.
Don’t you want a toy?”

But the child shook his head, and Santa could see
That he needed the answer. “Now listen to me,”
He told the small boy with the light in his eyes,
“My secret will make you sadder & wise.

“The truth is that my sack is magic. Inside
It holds millions of toys for my Christmas Eve ride.
But although I do visit each girl & each boy
I don’t always leave them a gaily wrapped toy.

Some homes are hungry, some homes are sad.
Some homes are desperate, some homes are bad.
Some homes are broken, & children there grieve.
Those homes I visit, but what should I leave?

“My sleigh is filled with the happiest stuff,
But for homes where despair lives,
toys aren’t enough.
So I tiptoe in, kiss each girl & boy,
And pray with them that they’ll be given the joy

Of the spirit of Christmas, the spirit that lives
In the heart of the dear child who gets not,
but gives.
If only God hears me & answers my prayer,
When I visit next year, what I will find there

Are homes filled with peace,
and with giving, and love
And boys and girls gifted with light from above.
It’s a very had task, my smart little brother,
To give toys to some,
and to give prayers to others.

But the prayers are the best gifts,
the best gifts indeed,
For God has a way of meeting each need.
“That’s part of the answer.
The rest, my dear youth,
Is that my sack is magic, And that is the truth.

In my sack I carry on Christmas Eve day
More love than a Santa could e’er give away.
The sack never empties of love, or of joys
‘Cause inside it are prayers, and hopes.
Not just toys.

The more that I give, the fuller it seems,
Because giving is my way of fulfilling dreams.
“And do you know something?
You’ve got a sack, too.
It’s as magic as mine, and it’s inside of you.

It never gets empty, it’s full from the start.
It’s the centre of lights, and of love. It’s your heart.
And if on this Christmas you want to help me,
Don’t be so concerned with your gifts
‘neath your tree.

Open that sack, call your heart, & share
Your joy, your friendship, your wealth, your care.”
The light in the small boy’s eyes was glowing.
“Thanks for the secret. I’ve got to be going.”

“Wait, little boy,” said Santa “don’t go.
Will you share? Will you help?
Will you use what you know?”
And just for a moment the small boy stood still,
Touched his heart with his small hand & whispered,

“I will.”

Author Unknown

December 7, 2009

Day 7 - Christmas Devotional

Hugh and I watched the Christmas Devotional yesterday after choir practice. I love the beautiful decorations around the temple and in the tabernacle. The choir brought in "Oh, Holy Night" and "For Unto Us a Child is Born" which they don't usually do so I was of course very excited about that. And it is such a blessing to be able to hear from the prophet and his counselors every Christmas.

If you missed the devotional you can watch/listen to it here.

December 6, 2009

Day 6 - SCMC

Hugh and I had a Southern California Mormon Choir concert in Whittier yesterday. It was pretty fun. It was especially nice to see Jean and Sol.

Anyway, here is a picture of Hugh in his choir getup. Doesn't it just fill you with the spirit of Christmas?


December 5, 2009

Day 5 - A Christmas Story!

This movie is a classic for my family at Christmas. Now my niece and nephews even like to watch it when they come visit our house.

Here is a clip for you, I would definitely recommend the entire movie. :)

December 4, 2009

Day 4 - King's Singers

My dad bought me a DVD of the King's Singers performing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir shortly after Christmas last year. I was really excited when I found out who it was because we also have another CD with a few recordings of the King's Singers on it that we've been listening to since I was little, although the members have changed since then.

Anyway, they sound great with the MoTab (haha) and are sooooo good at putting me in a Christmas-y mood! Not that... you know, that's very difficult...

December 3, 2009

25 Days of Christmas - Day 3

I posted this story up last year, it's one of my favorites.

Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked up at the stars and said: "I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I'll be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!"

The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on it's way to the ocean. "I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I'll be the strongest ship in the world!"

The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in a busy town. "I don't want to leave the mountain top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me, they'll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world."

Years passed. The rain came, the sun shone, and the little trees grew tall. One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain.

The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, "This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining axe, the first tree fell.

"Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest, I shall hold wonderful treasure!" The first tree said.

The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, "This tree is strong. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining axe, the second tree fell.

"Now I shall sail mighty waters!" thought the second tree. "I shall be a strong ship for mighty kings!"

The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven.

But the woodcutter never even looked up. "Any kind of tree will do for me." He muttered. With a swoop of his shining axe, the third tree fell.

The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought her to a carpenter's shop. But the carpenter fashioned the tree into a feedbox for animals.

The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold, with treasure. She was coated with saw dust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals.

The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ship was made that day. Instead the once strong tree was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and too weak to sail to an ocean, or even a river; instead she was taken to a little lake.

The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard.

"What happened?" the once tall tree wondered. "All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God."

Many, many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feedbox.

"I wish I could make a cradle for him." her husband whispered.

The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the sturdy wood. "This manger is beautiful." she said.

And suddenly the first tree knew she was holding the greatest treasure in the world.

One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler feel asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake.

Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. She knew she did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through with the wind and the rain.

The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, "Peace." The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun.

And suddenly the second tree knew she was carrying the king of heaven and earth.

One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands to her.

She felt ugly and harsh and cruel.

But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything. It had made the third tree strong.

And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

December 2, 2009

25 Days of Christmas - Day 2

I think these guys are so funny and talented!

You've probably heard Straight No Chaser's version of the 12 Days of Christmas.

I recently found these two songs as well.
Christmas Can Can

and Who Spiked the Eggnog?

December 1, 2009

25 Days of Christmas - Day 1

Because who wants just one day of Christmas, really?
For the next 25 days this blog will hopefully be filled with various Christmas themed... stuff...

For our first day I'm sharing one of my favorite Christmas treats. I love to eat it, but I've never actually made it before. That's okay though because it is so so easy!

Peppermint Bark doesn't really have a recipe, just melt chocolate and add in crushed peppermint. Mine did turn out different from any I've had before though, by way of texture, so maybe there was something else I should have done that I didn't. Oops, haha.

For this batch I used 12 oz. of white chocolate and 12 oz. of milk chocolate. I didn't bother measuring the peppermint, just put in what I thought looked like a good amount. Lots of recipes also use some kind of peppermint oil/extract, but I didn't, because I'm lazy. :)

Alright! The first step is crushing the peppermint.


Put your peppermints or candy canes in a large plastic bag. Candy canes are easier to crush, but they taste the same anyway. Actually, I wonder how the fruity candy canes would taste? Next time.

I used peppermints (and I'm very, very wimpy) so despite instructions that told me I could use a rolling pin, I had to use a hammer to break them up. I would strongly suggest putting a cutting board under your bag so as not to hurt your counter, and a newspaper over the board. When the peppermints start breaking they'll poke holes in the bag and the powder will get everywhere. If you've got newspaper out it'll save you some time cleaning up.

Next melt the chocolate.


Keep the heat low and stir constantly, the chocolate will burn easily. Don't get any water in contact with the chocolate. I'm not exactly sure what happens but apparently it becomes "clumpy and unworkable".

After you have got the chocolate melted, stir in your peppermint. This part smells delicious. :)

Pour the candy into the pan you want it to cool in. I didn't grease mine at all or put any sort of covering on the bottom so the chocolate was a real pain to get out after it had cooled. I would recommend you don't make the same mistake. Spread the candy so that it fills the bottom of the pan all the way to edges. The length/width of your pan will determine how thick your candy is, though it will taste the same no matter what.


Stick the pan in the fridge for about 45 minutes. After time is up bring out the pan and break the candy into pieces. Again, this part will be a lot easier if you have put some kind of covering on the bottom of your pan.


Tell me that does not look delicious! (It made more but by the time I had taken this picture we had already eaten half of it.) I don't particularly care for peppermint, but I love this candy.

Happy December :)