Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013 Virtual Advent Tour: Day 24

The end is here... I hope that everyone has enjoyed the tour this year. We are already looking forward to next year! We want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season.

For this last day of the tour, we visit the following blogs:

Beth @ Too Fond

I actually found this video back at the beginning of the month, but it seemed ideal to post on the night before Christmas rather than any other day.


Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 Virtual Advent Tour: Day 23

The tour is drawing to an end. Only one more day! I hope you have enjoyed the posts and will come back next year for more Virtual Advent fun. Today we visit these bloggers:

Carol Perry @ Better is Possible

Naida @ the bookworm

Today's quote comes from On Rue Tatin, which is a book about the author moving to a small town in France. It wasn't all smooth sailing, especially with some of the neighbours!
A couple of weeks later Michael began decorating the house for Christmas. He hung cedar boughs over ever door and window, then wove tiny white lights through them. He lit up our gnarled apple tree and hung multi-coloured lights in the two tiny-paned windows in Joe's room. I made and hung a giant wreath on our gate, festooning it with gold beads and a big red bow and we put candles at all the windows. Since our house is right in the centre of town across from the church we felt a certain obligation to decorate sumptuously.

Once the outside of the house was done we put a tree (which we didn't buy at the florists because we were too cowardly), decorated it and the rest of the interior by hanging decorations and boughs from the raw beams, on the ragged brick fireplace and on the not yet plastered walls. Our windows have tiny panes in them and most are curtainless, so the golden glow within was easily observed from without, and the house looked like a fairy tale dwelling, standing out starkly from the shops and apartments around it, which were more modestly decorated. We knew it was appreciated because we saw cars slow down and necks crane, and more than one person came with a camera and stood out front clicking away.

I have always baked a variety of cookies for Christmas and being in France didn't change that, even with the wealth of bakeries at our fingertips. I am a firm believer in tradition - ours and others - and I didn't see how it would be Christmas without Christmas cookies. Joe and I took an afternoon to mix, roll and decorate. Then we filled several gaily decorated cellophane bags and delivered them to the florists, the cafe owners, the crew at Chez Clet, Brigitte from the gift shop, and the family who ran the real estate agency across the street, along with an explanation of their place in our Christmas tradition. I was taking Claude's suggestion seriously.

Two days before Christmas, while I was baking, Michael was working and Joe was playing in the chilly entryway, Joe ran to get me. "Mama, there's someone at the door, those two ladies," he said with his lisp. I went to the door, wiping my hands on my apron. Michael, in his studio, had heard Joe and he emerged as well. It was dark already, and I switched on the outdoor light and opened the door. There, framed by the light in our doorway, were the twin sisters, a huge bouquet in their hands. They didn't say anything and just stood there. I was stunned and unsure of what to do, so we had a stand off for a moment, then they handed me the bouquet.

I had tears in my eyes and they did too. Michael, standing back just a bit, was equally moved. We didn't say anything. Finally, I said, "Merci," and they said simply, "Bon Noel." They handed Joe a little gift, shook our hands and were gone. We stayed in the doorway looking after them.

I looked at Michael, who looked back at me. "The rolls and the cookies. They worked," he said, smiling. We all felt as if a miracle had occurred, a cultural breakthrough that would improve the quality of our daily lives. Our first Christmas on Rue Tatin could not have offered us more.

That Christmas was a watershed, and none of us has ever looked back. Over subsequent years we've developed a close relationship with the florists, and found them to be warm and loving neighbours. Year round they bring us bouquets of flowers that they can't sell but still have many days of life in them. I take them cookies, or cakes, or whatever I am baking when it's something really special. Their grandchildren come over occasionally to play with Joe and even nice to Jonquil, their German Shepherd, though in my heart of hearts I am sure she is going to attack me one day.

Ironically, last Christmas found us urging them to store their Christmas trees in our backyard, as their usual storage area was damaged. It's easier now, of course, since we all know and appreciate each other, but still I had a quiet laugh about it.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

2013 Virtual Advent Tour: Day 22

For the 22nd day of the tour we visit with these fabulous people:

Kristen @ BookNAround

Barbara Bartels @ Barbara Bartels

Shellyrae @ Book'd Out

Speaking of fabulous, here is a link to a cello version of the Carol of the Bells. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

2013 Virtual Advent Tour: Day 21

Day 21! We are now weeks into the tour and only have a few more days to go before it is over for another year.  It always seems to go so quickly once we get started.  Today's hosts are:

Julie @ Angler's Rest

For your watching pleasure, a really cute (and creative) flash mob:

Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 Virtual Advent Tour: Day 20

It's Friday! Thank goodness. My job gets really busy every time there are public holidays but Christmas and Easter are even more busy than the others. I am really glad to have made it to the end of the week and have some time to relax. I have already started with a generous slug of Baileys but there could be more by the time this night is done.

Hopefully you will have some time to relax and visit our hosts today who are:

Sprite @ Sprite Writes

Over the last couple of weeks I have been listening to the audio version of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, and have loved the audio version! I know, I am about 3 years behind every one else in reading this book but what can I say....better later than never! I won't be waiting 3 years to read the follow up book!

Today's quote comes from Wolf Hall and features Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

At Whitehall - York Place, as it was - the builders are still in. For Christmas, the king had given Anne a bedroom. He led her to it himself, to see her gasp at the wall hangings, which were of cloth of silver and cloth of gold, the carved bed hung with crimson satin embroidered with images of flowers and children. Henry Norris had reported to him that Anne had failed to gasp; she had just looked around the room slowly, smiled, blinked. Then she had remembered what she ought to do; she pretended to feel faint at the honor, and it was only when she swayed and the king locked his arms around her that the gasp came. I do devoutly hope, Norris had said, that we shall all at least once in our lives cause a woman to utter that sound.

When Anne had expressed her thanks, kneeling, Henry had to leave, of course; to leave the shimmering room, trailing her by the hand, and go back to the New Year's Feast, to the public scrutiny of his expression: in the certainty that news of it would by conveyed all over Europe, by land and sea, in and out of cypher.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

2013 Virtual Advent Tour: Day 19

Welcome to Day 19 of the tour! We just had our first mega hot day of the summer and so it is really beginning to feel like Christmas for us! I know....odd compared to the rest of the world but it is what we are used to!

Today our hosts are:

Kristin Omiccioli @ my little heart melodies

Heather @ Capricious Reader

I found out about the song that I am sharing today through an author group on Facebook. The author asked all of her FB fans what their favourite Christmas songs were. There were a lot of the usual carols plus a smattering of contemporary songs. There were also some very strong opinions (amazing how many people either really, really loved songs like The Little Drummer Boy or really, really disliked the same song!). Anyway, in the course of the conversation this song was mentioned, and right from the first time I heard it I liked it! I hope you do too.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013 Virtual Advent Tour: Day 18

A week to go! Are you ready? I'm not really but I am sure it will all work out, even if I have to finish my shopping on Christmas Eve.

Today our hosts for the tour are:

Julie @ Angler's Rest

Today's Christmas quote comes from The Chevalier by Cynthia Harrod- Eagles, the seventh book in the Morland series which follows the fortunes of the Morland family through from the days of the Plantagenets through to the 20th century.

I liked this passage because I like the idea of being able to watch such a scene unfold. Wouldn't like to be the cook, or live like this all the time, but just once it would be fun!

Everything was done in the best of style, and the food was both lavish and elegant. Most of the servants liked and admired India, but the cook positively worshipped her, for under Clovis's direction, during Matt's minority, there had been little scope for his skills. Food at Morland Place had been plentiful, but plain and wholesome, no canvas for a great artist. This Christmas, inspired by India, he excelled himself. The centrepiece of the whole season's feasting was the colossal Twelfth-Night cake, which was three feet in diameter and decorated to be a perfect miniature of Morland Place in beautiful detail, right down to the marzipan peacocks who spread their paper tails on the sugar drawbridge.

As well as the feasting, there was of course music and entertainment of all kinds, all the favourite Christmas games and, every night, dancing. India danced with the best of them, and Matt, though he could hardly get a dance himself with his own wife, stood at the side of the room and watched with pride and love as she flew tirelessly up and down the sets, conspicuous in her peacock-blue satin, with the Queen's Emeralds glittering at her throat.