“Oh Come All Ye Faithful” and Twisted Sister


When Jeremy told me that our next Christmas song would be the beautiful “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” I was delighted. Not only do I like the song in Latin and in English, but also, I like many recorded versions, especially Nat King Cole’s 1960 recording.

Surprise! As I did my research, I watched the YouTube video of Nicki Minaj’s Grammy performance spectacle where she sings “Roman Holiday” with a supporting cast of dancers in religious costume performing inappropriate and mocking gestures. The chorus in the performance sings the opening of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.” It was difficult to see anything positive in her portrayal of the sacred. Yuck.

Also in my quest for performances, Twisted Sister’s video was listed before many classic versions. I watched the whole video, beginning with the satire of a young couple exchanging gifts in a classic holiday living room. The band then crowded in and sang the song accompanied by heavy metal sound and depictions of the female letting her hair down and getting excited by the sacred music. While some might enjoy this version, it is not for me.

Tomorrow, I’ll revisit the song and the more traditional recorded versions. There’s a lot of interesting history about this carol, which was written and sung long before most other Christmas tunes. What recording of the song do you like?

Podcast #30- 146 Days to Go!

Podcast #30- Click here to listen to this week’s Podcast- Which tree will it be?

This week we dish on the week in review and share all the details on being added to the list at Stitcher.  Brief overview of the hunt for Christmas in London during the 2012 Games and the #5 secret for a successful holiday are discussed.  We review the importance of planning now for your Christmas happenings.  It is really coming soon!  Most importantly we get to the dish on the them for the Yule Log tree at the Festival of Trees.  Listen in to hear the ideas and let us know which to pick!


The Yule Log is now on Stitcher Radio

I’m excited to announce that “The Yule Log 365” is now on Stitcher Radio!  For me, that’s the “big time.”

Stitcher is the Pandora of the talk radio world.  Since May 2011, I have logged 100 hours and 49 minutes (399 episodes) of pure listening joy.  My “Favorites” stations are personalized to me, and if a stranger examined all 24 stations, he would get a snapshot of my eclectic personality. I listen to “The Moth Podcast,” “Grammar Girl,” “Stuff You Missed in History Class,” “Scientific American’s 60-Second Mind,” “Marketing Over Coffee” and much more.  These favorites are “stitched” together so that I have a constant stream of podcasts.  “The Yule Log 365” is now at the top of my favorites!  Yikes!

Founded in 2008, Stitcher Radio had been featured as a top app in PC Magazine, won a Webby Award, and it’s available on most platforms, Kindle Fire, iPhone, and more.

To add a station to my personalized list, I use the search tool; however, I rely mostly on the suggestions mailed to me weekly.  For example, since I like geeky science stuff on “60-Second Mind,” I can scroll through the Listeners Also Like and sign up for “Brain Stuff” (sponsored by HowStuffWorks.com).  It’s easy to add a favorite and to delete it if several episodes don’t excite me after all. (Please do not delete “The Yule Log 365!”) The app uses the same thumbs up/thumbs down symbols as Pandora.

Each time I open the application, I am invited to refresh my content, so the most recent podcast is updated.  The NPR “Car Talk” Podcast updates on Saturdays, but below the current episode, there are Recent Episodes:  I can listen to Click and Clack in succession, ad nauseum, if I so choose.  If you fall behind on our Monday podcast, you can check in the recent episodes to listen to us.

The app provides free online streaming, so there’s nothing to update or download in iTunes.  I find that the advertising, which appears about as frequently as it does on Pandora, is, of course, marketed to my tastes, so the advertisements have led to exploring BetterMint.com and Audible.com.  I sound like a sucker, but they’ve got me pegged.

Stitcher gives me the ability to browse Live Stations.  The Stitcher Front Page streams current stories.  The Bookmark tool can mark any place I am in a podcast, but, usually, I don’t get that technical.  Unless I refresh the content, Stitcher remembers where I was.

My favorite type of talk radio is storytelling, but there’s every category of interest.  Since I started listening to “The Moth Radio,” I’ve added favorites like the “NPR: StoryCorps” and “The Stoop Storytelling Series in Baltimore.”    Interestingly, there’s plenty of room for podcasts from the highly professional to the basement production. (Jeremy and I are still in our podcasting infancy, so it’s cool to be ranked with the professionals.) I like the idea that good content reigns supreme, and the little guy (that’s us), with the right idea, can build a following.

Ne’ Qwa Art Ornaments

During our visit to the Christmas Spirit shop in Rehoboth Beach, my mom and I saw a beautiful display of Ne’Qwa Art ornaments, one of which is pictured here.

I read a little more about this ancient Chinese art and watched a video of the painting process. The prices for the ornaments range between $30 and $60, which is steep, but then I considered the hours that go into painting in reverse from inside the glass ornament.  This requires specialized training, unusual brushes and etching.  The painting begins with the foreground and then moves to the background.  I have linked a video of the process here.

If you are interested in looking at the newest ornaments for 2012, here is one website that features the ornaments.

This is ONE craft I won’t be attempting on my own.

Welcome to the UK!

This week I am lucky to be visiting London for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.  London is definitely a city rich with history and tradition.  As I write this the official opening ceremonies have completed and the torch has been lit.  Everyone in the city, every locations, and nearly every person is all about the games for the next fortnight.  So where might Christmas fit into all this sport spectacle and British pride?  Everywhere of course!

On a previous visit to London I was in the city at holiday time.  Everywhere was full of the sounds, sights, and smells of Christmas.  Every church and museum was dressed up with holiday finery and the bustle of the city was alive.  Attending a concert at Westminster Abbey, shopping along the stalls at Camden and Covent Garden, and navigating the thick throngs of people at Harrod’s were part of my whirlwind tour.  This week while I am here I hope to discover some of the plans for the 2012 celebrations.  I hope to get my hands on some of the Christmas recordings from both St’ Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.  I might even discover some unique holiday decorations or candy treats to bring home with me.  Cheers!!

What theme for our tree?


My mom is always helping me to brainstorm great holiday ideas. Today she accompanied me to Michaels for holiday craft supplies, and we made a visit to Christmas Spirit on Rehoboth Avenue in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

In the store entrance we saw this tree decorated in a beach theme. Mom liked the white lifeguard chair ornament. This air conditioned wonderland got me fired up to consider how Jeremy and I are going to decorate our tree for the Festival of Trees in November.


The Coca Cola tree was breathtaking, especially in the cool dim light of the store. I loved the ballerina tree and the wedding tree, but I don’t think I’ll be able to talk Jeremy into these.

A patriotic tree or music tree (there were both in the store) would be great. The Irish tree was really unique–could we assemble a tree reflecting a particular nationality?


A little off the beaten path: how about a gambling tree? I don’t know if all of our readers can support this, but Maryland has a rich horse racing tradition, and this could be enhanced with other games of chance. Items we could collect would be dice, playing cards, Monopoly money and more. I bet I can find some exciting crafts to make out of playing cards.

What I learned from the experience is that The Christmas Spirit store is the springboard for decorating imagination. We bought three ornaments, two with a knitting/crochet theme. How about that for a tree? I know I could ask my aunt or Roger’s sister for help with a crocheted garland!

Secret #5 for a Perfect Christmas

Remember that on the 25th of each month we will be revealing one of our secrets for the perfect Christmas in 2012.  Today we share secret #5- Tradition, no matter how silly or bothersome, is key.

Traditions really are what make the holidays special for most families.  We have discussed all kinds of traditions here at the Yule Log.  Family outings, church visits, decorations, songs, food, and more.  The family happenings, even the seemingly strange or annoying ones, make the holiday special.  When we look back later in life, it is the quirky and unique actions of that family past that come to mind and fill us with nostalgia.  I can remember from my teen years being annoyed to do some of our family events involving cousins, food, and travel.  I would absolutely love to be able to have those times again.  Another great family “tradition” we had was to deliver dinner to a great-great aunt who was in her 90s.  It was a right of passage to give this task to the next set of cousins.  When it was your years, you complained and argued about having to do it.  Now when we gather as an extended family, memories of those dinner trips are always part of the happy trips down memory lane.  Think of your own family and an annoying holiday tradition you have.  Everyone thought of something.  More likely than not, that same silly tradition will be a source of happy thoughts of the past in later life.  What silly but at the same time special traditions do you share with your family?  Please let us know!


Book now for Mickey?

In a previous post, Jeremy emphasized the importance of starting your planning for holiday parties and events of the 2012  Christmas season–both to relieve stress and to make sure that schedule conflicts do not arise. That point was made clear when I met with co-workers tonight to plan an important event to be held, tentatively, the first weekend in December.

First, I knew that my family has a long-standing tradition on or around December 8. Conflicts already? Second, I started to consider my energy level and ability to commit to being the organizer of an event (albeit with a large group) in the 2012 holiday season. Will I have time?  Am I really worrying about having enough time in December as early as July?

I wondered if The Yule Log was making me hyper sensitive to the holiday season. Am I crazy? (Rhetorical question.) Readers may remember that last week I reported that Hallmark revealed its holiday ornaments and Michaels craft store rolled out its program, “Make Your Joy.” Marketing has begun, and I am its victim already.

In the Manchester Evening News yesterday, the newspaper reported that bars and restaurants have rolled out their Christmas menus. According to the article, the local Hard Rock Cafe had already made 100 bookings for the holiday season.   Other restaurants also had plenty of inquiries and deposits.

Conversely, the website yourfirstvisit.net lists the best weeks in 2012 to visit Disney World, and the top three are the first week of December, the last week of November (after Thanksgiving) and the second week of December because the crowds are the smallest but the decorations and attractions are terrific.

My conclusion, then, is that the only place in my world where people are not going to be in super crazy holiday mode is between Thanksgiving and December 25 is Walt Disney World.  Tickets are on sale now.

I thought “Christmas in July” meant that people can take advantage of great holiday bargains in the middle of summer.  Instead, I’m stressing out about the calendar.

Podcast #29- 153 Days to Go!

Podcast #29- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- Bethlehem, O Little Town.

This week we dish a little on the week in review- mangers, crafts, and of course music.  Our new topic of discussion is focused on the song of the week- O Little Town of Bethlehem.  We talk a little about some of the recorded versions of this classic and look at the variety of forms.  Natalie has the epiphany that she doesn’t like a lot of Christmas songs, or does she?  We wrap up with a return to our craft ideas, which will be our focus next Monday.  Crafts?  Yup, only 5 months left of prep time!

Don’t do it alone!

On Saturday, my sister Susan and her two sons (ages 9 and almost 5) spent the rainy day at my house.  We drew up a list of what we might want to accomplish. Everyone got to contribute to the possibilities.  It looked something like this:

  • Make a Lego creation for Howard County Fair
  • Make waffles
  • Drink hot chocolate
  • Feed chickens watermelon
  • Jelly sandwich taste test–which jelly is the best?
  • Birthday present craft for two grandmothers (cannot be revealed because two grandmothers read this blog)
  • Small turtle craft made from foam pieces
  • Wax paper butterfly mobiles
  • Clay pot people (birthday or Christmas gifts)

I admit that this is a ridiculously involved list, and there was no expectation that all of it would be accomplished; however, the key factor in the success of the day of crafting, for me, was having my sister present to motivate me.  She brought her supplies and ideas.  I brought mine, and away we went.  Roger clears out when we bring up the extra folding table!

My point is that if Jeremy wants to get that nativity set made, he might want to recruit a friend who is willing to make a set, too.  Not everyone likes to work this way, but thinking back to the popularity of quilting and knitting circles, I think many people benefit from the energy of the group.

(Here’s a tip:  When I am working with my nieces and nephews, often, I try to have a photograph of the finished product and/or one I have made myself with clear steps that can be checked off as we go.  Everyone benefits from knowing the end result. And don’t choose something that takes more than 30 – 40 minutes when working with elementary children.)

I made jelly with a friend earlier this summer, and some of those jars will be gifts.  Canning is a labor-intensive task that is most definitely better when shared.  What might have been a lonely, hot, sweaty day was enhanced by conversation and blueberry smoothies.

One of my friends once said that making cookies together was the best Christmas gift I could have given her.  Another said that wrapping presents together was a gift in itself.   I recommend that if you are getting a slow start on your hand-made Christmas gifts, purchase two of everything and recruit a friend.

P.S.  Fig jelly was the favorite–yes, it’s true.  I believe some people (especially children) turn off when they hear “fig” jelly, but it is better than blueberry and peach.  I have the ballots to prove it!