Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Carols: Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ? 

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne. CHORUS

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne. CHORUS

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine† ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne. CHORUS

And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne. CHORUS

I love the tradition of singing Auld Lang Syne, because I love to watch people awkwardly pretend they know the words to songs that they obviously don't; myself included. When you look it up, it's actually a lovely set of lyrics. It's adapted from a Robert Burns poem, and there are many renditions out there with slight variances. (So the moral of that story is: don't try to learn it. You're probably going to learn the wrong version anyways.)

Anyhow, I picked a line out of the chorus for a printable, and here it is:

I thought it would be really cute for the drink table at a New Year's party :)

Happy New Year's! 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Carols: Come Let Us Adore Him

O, come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant!
O, come ye, O, come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him,
Born the kind of angels:
O, come, let us adore him,
O, come, let us adore him,
O come let us adore him, 
Christ the Lord.
One of my favorite verses from the Christmas story is
"And Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."

Between the cooking and the wrapping and the shopping and the cleaning and the entertaining, it is far too easy to be anything but quiet and thoughtful this time of year.  I am always humbled to think that the first mother of Christmas took the time to be still and think on that miraculous baby that had come to save the world. 

I wish I were more like her.

So in an effort to "keep" Christmas in my heart as Mary did, here are just a few images to fill your hearts and mine with the spirit of Christ this Christmas season . . .

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 

{Click here for the printable}

May we all take the time to think on the miracle of this Christmas season . . .

Merry Christmas!

  The Be Book Bound Sisters

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Carols: Dreaming of a White Christmas and Orange Muffins

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
just like the ones I used to know---
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
to hear sleigh bells in the snow.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
with every Christmas card I write:
May your days be merry and bright,
and may all your Christmases be white.

Every year, my kids wish for a white Christmas.  As of this year, they average a 54% success rate.  I, on the other hand, always wish for the same thing: a baby grand piano.  My success rate: zilch.  I'm thinking I should start wishing for snow instead. 
This year, however, I'm just wishing for a perfect Christmas Day---the kind of day filled with children's laughter and family memories and lots and lots of good food.  I'm counting on Santa to jump start the laughter and stories with Christmas gifts, but it's up to me to provide the food.

I made the mistake of heading to the grocery store today, hoping I would find some sort of culinary inspiration for the big day.  Imagine 3,087 shopping carts and their frazzled drivers in one super market.  One woman was singing tone-deaf Christmas carols at the top of her lungs in the deli.  An aisle over, I saw a man throwing whipping cream by the armfuls into his shopping cart.  And a lady behind me in the checkout was having a loud, running conversation with herself regarding my shopping items, her shopping items, and the checkout display of peppermint tootsie rolls.  I guess shopping a few days before Christmas just brings out the "crazy" in some people.  

Me included.  

Somewhere in aisle 9, I panicked as I watched people frantically piling candied fruit and hams in their carts.  Rather than landing on the perfect Christmas meal shopping list, I simply grabbed what was closest to me and left the store.

I came home with a bag of tater tots, a gallon of milk, and a frozen loaf of Sara Lee pound cake. 

I don't know why I over-think this every year, but I do.  I should just stick with tried and true comfort food like this . . .

This makes a moist and dense orange muffin with a fresh and tangy glaze.  Not only are these lovelies the perfect brunch item, but they are also the perfect way to use up any oranges or clementines you have lying around on your kitchen counters.  

Glazed Orange Muffins  
(adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather)
Makes 2 dozen muffins


1 cup milk
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup sour cream
2 large eggs
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1½ tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
zest of 1 orange (or 3-4 clementines)

¼ cup freshly squeezed orange (or clementine) juice
1½ cups powdered sugar
1-2 tsp. orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line 24 wells of a muffin pan (or pans) with paper liners.  Mix dry ingredients in and then add wet ingredients.  Bake about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack placed over a baking sheet.

To make the glaze, combine the orange juice, powdered sugar, and orange zest in a small bowl.  Whisk together until smooth, adding more juice if necessary to achieve your preferred consistency.  Drizzle the glaze over the muffins while they are still warm.  Allow the glaze to set before serving. 

Even though our Christmas menu isn't boding well after today's shopping trip, I have a feeling that these muffins just might inspire the family bonding I'm dreaming of.  

If nothing else, maybe they'll be the perfect accompaniment to tater tots.

Happy Christmas brunches to you all!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Carols: Book Page Crown Ornaments

We three kings of Orient are
bearing gifts, we traverse afar
Field and fountain
Moor and mountain
Following yonder star

O, Star of wonder
Star of night
Star of royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect light.

I hate it when Martha Stewart shows you how to make a cookie, and is like "You just carefully draw on each individual candy cane stripe with a pastry bag, and once you have gone to the trouble of making yourself a specialized template, this really rolls along, as you can make and bake TWO cookies at a time!" Seriously? Have you guys seen that one? It's just like when she starts talking about how you can find the ingredient she is using at "Your local Burmese market." Anybody have one of those? Yeah, me neither.

Anyways, so that is why I like to talk straight with you here on the blog. I don't want to waste your precious holiday time. Here is my latest craft frustration:

You know how sometimes you have ideas that just work out beautifully? This is not one of those moments. I made an ornament. It turned out a little bit cute. It took flippin forever to make. I was going to make 3. I will be stopping at 1.

IF you still want to make one of these puppies, here is a brief tutorial. Maybe you are a faster worker than I am, or maybe you love crowns more, so it's worth it to you. If not, stop reading, and have a Merry Christmas.

Using 19 gauge wire from the craft store, attach 5 "spokes" to one wire, about 10-12" long. The spokes should be about 6-8" long. I used pliers to attach everything. Bring your long piece together to form a circle.

Now bend the spokes into the middle to form a crown shape. run them through a cork you have drilled a small hole in, and curl the ends so they stay put. Now take strips of book pages, mod podge them on,  and once that is dry, mod podge some artificial snow or glitter on too.

And remember: I told you so.

Merry Christmas!!!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Carols: I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the lyrics to this carol on Christmas day in 1863, listening to the bells while nursing his son back to health from injuries sustained in the Civil War. I thought about this carol, trying to process the horrific events of this week.

I talked to my husband, and we cried.

I called my mom, and we cried.

I called my sisters, and we cried.

I stopped talking about it, because there were no words. There still aren't.

I kept thinking, "But this is Christmastime!"

And almost forgetting: This is Christmastime.

This is the season of

 and the season of FAITH.

This is the season when we celebrate that

and we will be together again because this precious Savior was born in Bethlehem all those years ago.

So I choose to celebrate hope and faith in Christmas this year. Some moments, the lights seem a little more dim than usual, and maybe the decorations seem a little less beautiful. But the true meaning of Christmas has never felt quite as important.

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.

We wish you peace this Christmas season.

(All printables in this post are free to use as you wish.)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Carols: O Little Town of Bethlehem Gingerbread Houses

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie. 
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep,
The silent stars go by; 
Yet in thy dark streets shineth 
The everlasting light; 
The hopes and fears of all the years 

When I was six or seven years old, my mom decided that my little sister and I should participate in giving to the Toys for Tots program at Christmastime. She explained to us that there were children who might not get any toys for Christmas, and that we could be Santa's helpers 
by getting the children a present to open on Christmas morning. 

All we needed was some money. 

Our mother's business plan was brilliant:
Make graham cracker gingerbread house ornaments decorated with frosting, Smarties, and ribbon candies, and then send young children up and down the street to peddle the wares. 

After all, who could say "no" to two little toe-headed, blue-eyed girls selling gingerbread houses? You'd have to be an absolute Scrooge.

She sent us out with our gingerbread houses and a homemade order form: 
$3 for a small gingerbread house, $5 dollars for a large one.

I remember knocking on doors and proudly holding up our gingerbread houses for the homeowners to see.  They would look at the houses, and then at us.  And then they would smile.  I just assumed it was because our gingerbread houses were the most wonderful ornaments they had ever seen.  (Mom really was a wonder with an icing tip.)  But I now realize that those homeowners were probably smiling at the highest-pressured sales pitch they'd ever received from two little girls in mismatched clothes holding graham crackers slathered in frosting.

I don't remember how much money we earned that Christmas, but I do remember looking at the bag of toys on the kitchen table after we had gone shopping with the earnings.  I'm not sure if any of those toys ever changed a child's life, but they certainly changed mine.

Ever since that Christmas, I have been a huge believer in holiday giving . . .
and in the power of gingerbread houses.

Lucky for me, I recently attended the Festival of Trees fundraiser for Primary Children's Hospital.
Not only was this a Christmas charity event, but it included an amazing gingerbread house display. 

I snapped a few shots of my favorite houses, including this charming ski lodge . . .

 and this classic grandma house . . .

and this English village shoppe.

There were also some non-traditional gingerbread creations, like this Dr. Seuss house . . .

and this rendition of the Shire's Bag End from The Hobbit.

I enjoyed this adorable winter cabin with its yellow lab on the front porch . . .

and this gingerbread lighthouse inspired by a Thomas Kinkade painting.

I loved this gingerbread model of the Provo Tabernacle with all of its illuminated windows.

But my absolute favorite gingerbread house of the tour had to be this version of Hogwarts, complete with Harry, Ron, and Hermione (and wands)!

I hope that somewhere in your Christmas festivities you are able to carve out some time for Christmas giving and gingerbread houses.  

And then again, if you are feeling a bit business savvy, you could always combine the two . . .  :)
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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Carols: Deck the Halls Part 3

See the blazing yule before us,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Strike the harp and join the chorus,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Join we now in merry measure,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
While I tell of Christmas treasure,
Fa la la la la, la la la.

I love my bedroom.  I really do.

 But as I was taking pictures of the Christmas bedrooms in my friend Denise's house,
I stopped for a moment, put the camera down, and sighed.

 "Can I come and be a guest in your house someday?"  I said.

"Absolutely," she replied.

You see, none of the bedrooms in Denise's house were strewn with wrapping paper scraps or unfolded laundry or plastic army men.  None of her bedrooms had fresh crayon markings on the walls.  And absolutely none of them smelled faintly of Cheez-its.

Now, I wouldn't trade the little havoc-wreaking people in my home for all the rooms in Pemberley, but sometimes it would be nice to be able to walk past the bedrooms in my house without having to gulp and close the door.

That's why I go to Denise's house---so I can happily walk into guest rooms like this, with their headboards decorated in pine and angel wings . . .

with its accompanying bathroom that wishes me a Merry Christmas from above the mirror.

 I love to linger in her little girl's sugarplum room with its delectable headboard . . .

and its delightful pink Christmas tree.

Don't you just love this little gingerbread house with its resident ghost? 

The master bedroom is just as dreamy with its peacock feather wreath above the bed . . .

and its beautiful fireplace dressed in rich browns and shimmering blues.

As an added treat, I thought I'd also give you a sneak peak at the adorable Arctic family room, with its red and white tree . . .

and penguin escorts.

If you look closely, you'll see penguins in every corner of this charming room---and some are even wearing Santa hats . . .

I always hate to leave this jaw-dropping home . . .

But at least I know there is always a place to come back to when the smell of Cheez-its becomes overwhelming at my own.

Be sure to visit

{House Tour Part 1}


{House Tour Part 2}

of this amazing home in case you missed it!

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Carols: Homemade Egg Nog

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten,
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white

I really am dreaming of a "White Christmas," but as the chances of that are slim, I made our most snow-like drink today: My Mother's Egg Nog. But it looks as if you poured it for Santa himself :)

Before we get started, I need to say this:

(From the store)

It's like the texture of raw eggs blended up. It has some weird chemical aftertaste, and it has a mouth coating effect similar to that of pepto bismol. And those little flecks? I am not entirely sure they're spices. I'm just saying...

But that was all before I tried

And I am not the only one. When my mom first began making this egg nog at Christmas time, we all became converts of the most religious kind. This egg nog is an absolute STAPLE in our holiday menu now, and gets requested every year. By everyone. It's seriously that good. And NOT AT ALL like the store bought variety.

This egg nog is non-alcoholic.
You will have to hunt down brandy flavoring at the supermarket
(This is easier said than done. I will tell you our Kroger/Smiths/Frys stores do carry it, but WalMart doesn't)

Any YES, it uses raw eggs. You can buy pasteurized eggs if that bothers you, but I just use regular grade A eggs and I have never had a problem, so you decide for yourself.

Old Fashioned Egg Nog

By the mother of the BeBookBound-ers.
Adapted from her Grandma's more boozy version...

6 eggs
1/2 bottle of Brandy Flavoring
1/2 Gallon Whole Milk
1 C Heavy Cream
1-2 cups Sugar
Fresh Ground Nutmeg

Throw 4 eggs, and 2 yolks in a blender (Reserve the other 2 whites to whip with a couple tablespoons of sugar) At this point I like to remove the chalazae from the eggs. (That's the technical name for those umbilical cordy things in the eggs. Yucko.)  Now add the Brandy flavoring, and transfer to a large pitcher. Add the milk, cream, and a cup of sugar. You can adjust if you want more sugar at this point. Grate in some nutmeg. I use about a quarter of a nut's worth. Just do it to your personal taste. In a separate bowl, whip those egg whites and sugar we talked about earlier, just until they form soft peaks. Spoon the whites onto the nog, and top with a dusting of nutmeg.


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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Carols: Deck the Halls Part 2

Fill the mead-cup, drain the barrel,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Troll the ancient Yuletide carol,
Fa la la la la la la la la.

In part one of our Deck the Halls feature, we visited my friend Denise's house and toured her glorious entry and living room.  Today, we take a peek a some equally gorgeous rooms in the house, starting with the kitchen . . .

 Every corner in the kitchen speaks of Christmas, from the alcove behind the stove . . .

 to the festive dishes in the plate rack . . .

 to the sparkling fruit tree at the sink . . .

 to the pot rack draped in cedar boughs and fruit.

And what a clever way to showcase a Christmas cookie cutter collection!  Such a simple, yet brilliant finishing touch to this warm holiday kitchen.

The dining room is just as elegant with its poinsettias and large nativity on the buffet . . .

and its chandelier decked in ribbons, pine, and sugared fruit.

Finally, you have got to admire a woman who has enough Christmas gusto to decorate her laundry room.  After all, if any room in the house needs some Christmas spirit, it has to be the laundry room.  Doing load after load becomes a little more magical when you have a sweet little village to look at above the washer and dryer.

Come back tomorrow to enjoy some Christmas bedrooms and family room decor!

{House Tour Part 1}

{House Tour Part 3}

See you then!
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