You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2009.

The year 2009 in review, courtesy of Jibjab, by way of my blog buddy David.

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Where any highlights, or lowlights, of the year missed?


I spent less time this year following the current music releases than any previous year I can remember, a sure sign that I may be letting my musical ear get old. 🙂

I still did hear a lot of good music,  I tried to pick the three I liked the most.

Let me know what you think of my choices.

What are some of your top music picks for 2009.

Ne Yo – Closer

Pink – Sober

Fray – You Found Me

I hope everyone had a joyous Christmas.  I spent Christmas day at my cousins with her son, two friends from Mexico, and of course my cousins growing family of now seven cats.  I also spent time with each of my five nieces, and their combined 14 children.  I had a great time everywhere but was also happy to get back childless, cat-less, condo.  🙂

How did your Christmas go?

I think during the Christmas season people do make an extra effort to spread good cheer, except perhaps at the shopping malls. 🙂

An article in the Christian Science Monitor, by Mark Trumbull,  tells the story of the extra lengths some people went to this Christmas season to help those in need.

From the article:

1) Five moms near Palm Desert, Calif, decided to take action when they read a newspaper story about how many students at one nearby elementary school were poor and lacked good shoes. They created a group called Hearts 4 Soles and provided new shoes and socks for all 94 kindergartners at the school, the Desert Sun paper reports.

2)  Teens at Archbishop McCarthy High School in Florida’s Broward County organized 36 holiday boxes of goods to send to graduates of their school now serving the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Miami Herald reported. The recipients can share the food, books, music discs, and other items with fellow service members.

3)  Workers at a Boise, Idaho, insurance company also reached out to help low-income school children this year just like the California moms did. The insurance team decided to cancel its office party and put the money toward buying books and other items for the kids, according to the Idaho Statesman. To broaden the effort, they parked a truck outside a Kmart and enlisted shoppers to donate new items such as clothing and toothpaste to the cause.

4)  In Sussex, Wis., community members donated nearly $3,000 to help provide Christmas meals for individuals in need. It’s symbolic of actions occurring across the nation as food pantries see rising demand.

“It seems like the harder things get, people are more generous,” said John Haunfelder, a Sussex Lions Club member who helped raise the money on a recent Saturday. “It really brought on a warm feeling,” he told the Sussex Sun.

Unfortunately far too many Americans remain in need of assistance:

“A recent Agriculture Department report estimated that 17 million households, or 1 in every 7, were “food insecure” in 2008, meaning they lacked resources for adequate food for at least part of the year. Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks, says the problem has grown significantly this year, since that survey was done.”

I will be going off-line until Monday.  I hope you all have a very merry, joyous, and safe Christmas.

Muppets – A Christmas Carol

Amy Grant – Breath of Heaven

I hope everyone has as much fun on Christmas as Aaron Neville:

Some food for your ears and stomach.

What is your favorite Christmas desert?

A rousing Christmas song from the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir – The Hallelujah Chorus.

A desert recipe from the NY Times, Orange Savarin.  What’s not to like about something with orange-flavored brandy and whipped cream.

Orange Savarin

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, more for greasing pan

2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour, more for dusting pan

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

8 large eggs, separated

2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Finely grated zest of 2 oranges (about 1 1/4 tablespoons)

1/2 cup freshly squeezed strained orange juice

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 to 3 tablespoons orange-flavored brandy (optional)

 Whipped cream for serving

Dark rum for serving (optional).

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 10-inch tube or bundt pan and dust with flour; set aside. Sift 2 1/4 cups flour with baking soda; set aside.

2. Using an electric mixer, cream 1 1/2 cups butter until fluffy. Gradually add 1 1/4 cups sugar and mix until light, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and orange zest and mix at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with orange juice, beginning and ending with flour. Mix until smooth.

3. Using an electric mixer, in another bowl whisk egg whites with cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar just until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into batter.

4. Pour batter into pan and bake in center of oven until cake is golden and pulls away from sides of pan, about 1 hour 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. While cake is still hot, brush with brandy, if desired. Cool 10 minutes, then remove from pan.

5. To serve, cut into 1-inch slices. Lightly toast slices and serve two to a plate with a dollop of whipped cream and, if desired, a shot of rum to pour over warm cake.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings.

In a comment to an early post Michelle suggested I look up the Book of Hebrews, chapter 11.  It is described in a few places as examples of “Faith to help the discouraged”.  The first three verses define faith, then 4 – 38 talks about the faith of many heroic figures in the Bible, Abel, Enoch, Noah, etc.  The Book concludes with verses 39 and 40, further reasons for faith beyond what these “heroes” did.

We will all go through periods of discouragement.  I can see where the  Book of Hebrews, chapter 11, is a good reminder for Christ Followers of the value of faith.  It is a great source of encouragement for the faithful when they are troubled. 

Hebrews 11 verses 1-3 and 39-40 (New International Version)

1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for.

 3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Verse one is a good definition of religious faith.  Faith is the substance of things hoped for.  It expands beyond what we learn from our senses.  It is the organ which enables the CF to see what is invisible to their senses, and can’t be measured in any laboratory.

Verse 2 refers to how this faith enabled so many of the heroic elders of Christianity to overcome, obtain good testimony, even when their circumstances were discouraging.  They had many different circumstances in life, but what they all shared in common was faith.

In verse 3 were back to how faith gives understanding to what is invisible to our senses.  It was the words of God, “Let their be life” that framed our world.  The CF knows this by their faith, it can’t be observed, or measured, with their senses.

The two concluding verses, 39 and 40, give more reasons for religious faith today.  Even though these old heroes of the Bible obtained good testimony they never saw the (God’s?) promise the way the CF has, the testimony of the completed work of Jesus.  The CF enjoys the completed work of Jesus has even more reason to hold on to faith.

I think Hebrews 11 gives the best example of how religious faith differs from mine.

My faith is based on what can be observed, and measured, mostly by the technology created by the human brain, and tested by the process known as science.

I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to.  Like everyone else in our blogging community I try to make the most out of this holiday season, spending more time with family and friends.  I’ll give you three items today, a video on traditional Southern layer cakes, a beautiful Christmas song from one of the great voces, Karen Carpenter, and one of an octopus that challenges our idea of how to define intelligence.

1) From the New York Times, the traditional Southern Layer Cake.


Link to article:


2)From one of the most beautiful voices I know, Karen Carpenter.

Wikipedia entry on the tragic story of Karen Carpenter:

Merry Christmas Darling:

3) As we study the other animals we hare our world with we must continue to redefine what intelligence is.  This video is of an octopus that has learned to use the half shells of coconuts, throw away by people, as a protective home.

Link to article in Science Daily:


1) I’ll just say this once.  Christmas gift giving should only be for kids.  For adults sharing the spirit of the season should be enough.

2) The most insightful blog I read is Gitzengirl, Sara Frankl.  Sara shares her condo with Riley.  It’s really Riley’s condo, his paw print might even be on the certificate of title.  🙂

Mondays post belongs in my all-time top ten.  Sara writes about the “Joys hidden in the cracks”.

3) If you only get one Christmas music c/d this year make it Andrea Bocelli’s “My Christmas”

This is another song from the Album, “Angels We Have Heard On High”:

I has been a bit if a brain dead week for me, only 2 post.  I was searching for something to post about today when I came across this video, on the online edition of the British paper, The Guardian.  It’s an interview with  US  army specialist Brendan Marrocco, who lost all four limbs in combat in Iraq, as he learns to use his prosthetic arms and legs.

It’s a miracle of modern medical science, and the human spirit. 

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

I just found this video of Andrea Bocelli singing White Christmas.  It’s is my new favorite Christmas song:

Another YouTube favorite of mine:

Yo Yo Ma & Alison Krauss – The Wexford Carol

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