My Advent Calendar of Music – Day #1: Anticipation

Back in 2011, I got an idea for something to do for the days leading up to Christmas – I LOVE Christmas music, both sacred and secular, so I thought it might be nice to post some of my favorites.

The thing is, I have LOTS of favorites – too many for just one post – so I decided to do a musical version of an Advent calendar, and count down the days until that most joyous day which celebrates Christ’s birth. Whenever possible, I have included links where you can purchase your own copy of each day’s selections.

I hope you enjoy my selections – some days there may be just one song; other days, I may do both a “church” and a popular song (both “classics” and contemporary); some days I may post different versions of the same song.  I’m just winging it, so bear with me!

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The Angel Tree (a heartwarming Koch family Christmas tale)

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Every family has their own “family lore” – stories handed down from generation to generation.  These are generally told around the campfire, on the front porch, or around the dining room table.  The good ones are side-splittingly funny; the really great ones are the ones which manage to embarass one or more family members.

Every year, Paul or I will drag out this old chestnut – it never fails to leave friends and family rolling in the aisles:

When Rebecca was a baby, Paul would oftentimes get Sarah and Michelle ready for school in the mornings.  Since they were ages 9 and 10 at the time, this consisted of waking them up, telling them to get dressed/ready, and driving them 3 blocks to the school.

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Foodie Friday – Chocolate and Whiskey Liqueur

Chocolate Liqueur 7
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With holiday parties coming up, here’s a neat idea for either bringing along to share, or giving as a hostess gift. It is delightfully easy to make, and it is decadently delicious.

If you don’t like alcoholic drinks, you can always leave out the booze and just have a really yummy chocolate sauce. This is great straight, over ice, or over ice cream:
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Chocolate & Whiskey Liqueur

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1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup Irish whiskey (or vodka, for a more neutral flavor)

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A Thanksgiving Classic

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From 1978, these classic clips from the sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati” never fail to leave me in stitches:

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
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Thanksgiving Music: “Come Ye Thankful People”

Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving

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Whenever I think of Thanksgiving, this is the song that comes to mind – and this is a beautiful arrangement sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir:
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Tuesday Tunes: “Simple Gifts”

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There are plenty of videos with this beautiful song out there, but I absolutely LOVE the photography used in this one – it’s full of the people and things that make America such a great country:
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(“Simple Gifts” from “Appalachian Spring” by Aaron Copland, performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and conducted by Leonard Bernstein, is available in CD and MP3 formats)
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“Of the People, By the People, For the People”

Gettysburg Memorial.

Today marks the 155th anniversary of a most solemn occasion:

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Foodie Friday – Gluten Free Parker House Rolls

Many of you who know our family know that Paul, Rebecca, and I have to eat gluten-free.  Rebecca was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in April, 2008, and after we converted our kitchen to accommodate her condition we discovered that we felt a whole lot better as well.

Now, in most cases GF cooking isn’t that much different from regular cooking; I’ve found different GF ingredients and products that our family really likes (and some we’d rather not talk about) and it’s been pretty easy to adapt most things.

However, gluten-free baking is another story altogether.

Wheat gluten has a wonderful property of stretchiness that non-wheat products simply can’t match.  When it comes to baking bread/rolls/etc., it can be a real challenge to figure out how to do things right; most gluten-free bread dough is really more like cake batter, which makes it impossible to knead/mold into shapes.

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On Jonathan’s Birthday – “Autumn Leaves”

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Today would have been my friend Becky’s oldest son’s 39th birthday.  Jonathan left us much too soon (a car accident in 2001), but he left lots of great memories behind for those who loved him best.

One of the things that his family ran across while looking for things to include in his memorial service was a poem that he had written in one of his classes about a leaf falling to the ground.  It gave them great comfort, and ever since then whenever Autumn rolls around I like to think that Jonathan is surrounding everyone who knew and loved him with his presence.

Every time I hear this song, I think about Jonathan and his family:

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(“Autumn Leaves” sung by Eva Cassidy is available in CD and MP3 formats)
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“A Republic, If You Can Keep It”

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The story goes that as Benjamin Franklin emerged from Independence Hall at the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 18, 1787, a woman asked him, “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”.

Mr. Franklin replied, “A republic, madam – if you can keep it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in looking over the events of the past few months, I would submit to you that Mr. Franklin’s Republic is still intact.

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