Friday, November 30, 2018

Saint Andrew's Novena - The Christmas Novena


Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born 
Of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. 
In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires 
through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.

The Saint Andrew Novena begins on The Feast of Saint Andrew, November 30,
and with Advent beginning on the Sunday nearest to The Feast of Saint Andrew,
it ushers in this most beautiful season of preparation and anticipation.

It is to be repeated 15 times per day from November 30 until Christmas Day,
which will undoubtably be difficult.  But for anyone who is able, they will
find their heart well prepared for receiving the precious gift of the Christ child.
This sweet refrain will allow you to meditate more fully on the profound 
mystery of the incarnation.

My plan is to set a timer on my phone, once every hour beginning at 9:00 a.m.
and ending at 9:00 p.m. with an added alarm at the half hour of nine, or 9:30,
at the half hour of 3:00, or 3:30 and then again at the half hour of 8, or 8:30 in the
evening, for a total of fifteen alarms.  I printed out the novena provided by Catholic Culture,
(link below), and placed one on my refrigerator and one in my car. By repeating it
so often, it is my guess that it won't be long before I won't have to read it at all.

It's been several years since I dedicated myself to this prayer during this season,
but I recall that in the past, it centered my focus more fully upon Christ and the 
miracle of His birth and lessened the frantic and frenzy that often accompany
this time of year.  I encourage you to try it for yourself, if not 15 times a day, perhaps
three times, after each meal, or five, upon rising, at each meal, and at bed time,
and peace will be yours.

Download available at Catholic Culture

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Grandma's Texas Style Pinto Beans

Today I'm sharing my recipe for Texas Style Pinto Beans. Some might refer to these as Ranch Style Beans, but I grew up eating Ranch Style Beans, and these are definitely not that.  But if you're looking for a good recipe to make your own, The Homesick Texan has come up with one that I think is even better than the original. 

If you ask why I refer to these as "Texas Style Pinto Beans"?,  I really have no explanation.  But they do call for a jalapeño, salsa verde and chili powder, all of which, at least in my mind, make them distinctively Texan.  But probably the most obvious answer is that I was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas and I grew up eating these, or at least a variation of them. My grandmother loved beans and cornbread and she made it often. After she passed away I found this recipe among her things, worn with use and stained, but I could just make out the ingredients and measurements.  If I hadn't looked so bad I might have kept it, but just having her recipe was priceless to me!  Once I made them a few times to be sure I had transcribed everything right, I tossed the original.

My grandmother's recipe was good, and I made them and ate them just as she did for many years.  But then one day I came across a similar recipe that called for almost the exact ingredients with one exception, instead of a jalapeño, it called for a small can of salsa verde, and that sounded delicious!  However, being a Texan through and through and liking my food a little on the "spicy" side, I opted to not omit the jalapeño and just add the salsa as an addition, and my oh my!  I think my grandmother would agree, I have improved upon the original!

I make this recipe frequently as it pairs well with Mexican food and we eat a LOT of Mexican food in our house!  Like tonight, I am making Copycat Fuzzy's Tacos, SOOOO good, and do not omit the garlic sauce!  It is hands down what makes these stand out above the rest!  I love Fuzzy's, and they serve up some pretty decent beans as well, and those Latin Fried Potatoes!  I've been trying to replicate those for awhile now, and I've found a few recipes but they all seem to call for tomatoes, which I guess I could just omit, but I'd really just like to find the real deal, you know?

But now, on to the recipe, because that is why we're here, right?


1 pound dried pinto beans
1 can chicken broth (I use reduced sodium)
1 large onion (chopped)
1 fresh jalapeño pepper (chopped)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin (my grandmother used something called "Mexican Seasoning"? 
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Chili Powder (I sprinkle in enough to cover the top and add to taste, like my grandmother did)
1/2 cup salsa verde (green salsa)
Water (as needed)

Place beans in a large pot, and pour in the chicken broth. Add in the onion, jalapeno, garlic, salsa, cumin, pepper and chili powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, Cook for 2 hours, stirring often, until beans are tender. Add water as needed.

This recipe is good all by itself topped with dab of sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and a bit of cilantro.  You can also fry up a pound of hamburger meat and add it for a little more substance. Serve it with a side of corn bread, Kansas City Cornbread is my favorite, and pairs well with this.

And now I must be off, my friends, to check on my own pot of beans!

Until then,

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Tuesday Afternoon Tea - .01

Happy Tuesday, my friends, and welcome to Tuesday Tea!

Tuesday Tea is a post that I hope will become a regular feature here at A Gathering of Days, and today is the first installment.

Tuesday Tea is something that has been part of our family for a number of years, going back to when the girls were little and we were a homeschooling family.  On Tuesday afternoon I would sit a pretty table, pour us a cup of tea or other beverage, and usually tried to include a special pastry or other snack to go along with it.  Sometimes we would read a chapter from a book, read poetry, or just sit and visit.  And while we didn't do it every week, when we were able to make it happen, it was always a special time.

That being said, I **hope** to visit with you over tea each week, but we all know how life often has other plans!  So if not every week, it will at least be a frequent post and I'm looking forward to sharing it with you!

Each week I will share a picture of my tea time setting, the cup I drank from, what I drank, as well as any treats I added!  If it's something home made, I'll share the recipe, as well! I will also share a favorite passage or quote from a book or perhaps a favorite poem.  And all you have to do is the same!  Over the next week I'll try to refamiliarize myself with how link-ups work, but you can also just leave your pictures and passages in the comments if you want, and until I can get things up and running!

As another alternative, I'm also sharing this post with my Facebook Group, if you'd like to join us!  We are just getting things started there, but in the near future I will be sharing resources and printable that will be exclusively for group members, so if you don't want to miss out on the fun be sure to join!  Here is the link!

And now with further delay, here is a picture of my "tea time" from this afternoon.

Don't you just love that mug?  "Cozy" is one of my favorite words and atmospheres to create, so the minute I saw it I knew I had to make it mine!

Today, rather than tea, I actually had an afternoon cup of coffee!  Most of my tea is decaf, and if you look just behind that little cup you can see that my Christmas tree is up!  I lovely decorating our house and making it all "cozy" for Christmas, but I will say, the older I get, the longer it is taking me!  I did get most of it done today, and by tomorrow I should have everything the way I like it.  It seems like every year I find myself tweaking things in the weeks leading up to Christmas itself, but I take a lot of pleasure in making things look just right!

That being said, after all that decorating I needed a little pick me up, thus the reason for the coffee!  I paired it with a cup of Trader Joe's Maple Leaf cookies, which are one my all time favorites!

With all of the preparations for the holidays I haven't had much time for reading recently, but I do have a couple of books that I plan on starting this week, so hopefully next week I'll have a passage or quote to share with you!

And now I'm off to rest and relax.  I think I might watch a Christmas movie, or do a little cross stitching!  I pray your evening will be blessed and I'll see you here again soon!

Until then,

Monday, November 26, 2018

Old Movie Monday - Christmas in Connecticut


The Grandin Theatre
Roanoke, Virginia

This weeks featured theater is near and dear to my heart, The Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Virginia. 

In 1931, Roanoke architect John Zink and his crew began construction on The Grandin Theatre. On March 26, 1932, Roanoke’s top movie palace opened its doors for the first time for a screening of “Arrowsmith.” Tickets were 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for kids at the time the auditorium and balcony sat 944. The Grandin Theatre was the first theatre in Roanoke to have “talking pictures.”

It stayed a cinema for over 40 years until it closed in 1976 and was taken over by Mill Mountain Theatre in 1976, who over the next seven years produced shows like The Sound of Music, Guys and Dolls and Annie Get Your Gun. In 1983, Jack Andrews bought the Theatre and screened classics, second run movies, and art films. He also presented Live Shows. During this time, blues musicians such as John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles and BB King rocked the house.

Two years later, the Grandin closed its doors once again, this time due to financial issues. However, in 1986, the theatre opened up again under the guidance of manager Julie Hunsaker, who brought in art house, indie and foreign films. She even brought in comedy legend Bill Murray, who in 1990, hosted a benefit to help the Grandin pay its bills. Unfortunately, it was still a challenge to keep the history alive. In November of 2001, The Grandin Theatre was forced to close for the third time.

However, just one month before, under the guidance of community developer Ed Walker, the Grandin Theatre Foundation was formed. Over the next year, the Foundation held the “Save the Grandin” campaign and on October 20, 2002, the theatre was able to reopen after raising the funds to buy and renovate the theatre. It has been keeping the history alive ever since. It’s not just about the movies. It’s about the community. It’s the history. It’s the people. It’s the Grandin Theatre.

Keep these old theater's alive, support The Grandin!

Christmas In Connecticut
Original Premiere Date - August 11, 1945

Every year around Christmas I watch my favorite classic movie, Christmas In Connecticut, and every time I watch it I pine for that Connecticut farmhouse all over again.

The farmhouse itself isn't real, it was built on a Warner Brothers soundstage in Burbank, California, but apparently people have been looking for blue prints for it for years!

The star of the movie is Barbra Stanwyk (of Big Valley fame), who portrays Elizabeth Lane, a columnist who writes for Smart Housekeeping chronicling her idyllic life as a writer, wife, mother and accomplished cook living on a farm in Connecticut.

In the opening scene she writes in her column;

“From my living room window as I write, I can look out across the broad front lawns of our farm, like a lovely picture postcard of wintry New England. In my fireplace the good cedar logs are burning and crackling.”

But the truth of the matter is, Elizabeth Lane can't boil water, and this is the view from her New York City office window.

The Connecticut farmhouse belongs to her architect fiancee', but one can guess that it is definitely the inspiration for the setting in her stories.

When an army nurse writes to publishing titan Alexander Yardley and requests for him to arrange for war hero Jefferson Jones to spend Christmas with Elizabeth Lane, Yardley invites himself along. This forces Elizabeth and her boyfriend/fiance  to have to pretend to be married, and she convinces Uncle Felix, a local friend and chef whose recipes are featured in her column, to come along.

Guests arrive by sleigh in the winter. Here we see Elizabeth and her now fiancee arriving at the farmhouse and they are about to be married to protect Elizabeth's secret and her job!

And here's a view of the beautiful great room!

And just look at that fireplace! It's so big the mantel is above their heads!  Here we see John Sloan, Elizabeth's fiancee, discussing details with the minister for the wedding ceremony.

Here is another view of the Great Room with a peek at the piano and the large window nearby where Jefferson Jones is playing Christmas carols for an admiring Elizabeth.

And get a look at that staircase!  In this scene Nora (the housekeeper), has packed her bags and is leaving, tired of all the lies and covering for Ms. Lane.

And then there's the cheery "eat-in" kitchen where we find our friends enjoying breakfast.

Just look at those cute checked curtains!  Want to bet they are red and white?  Mr. Yardley and Jefferson Jones are enjoying a late night snack in this scene.

It's Jones that Elizabeth ends up falling in love with, and eventually Mr. Yardley uncovers the facade!
But in true romantic-comedy fashion, all the lies, mix-ups and misunderstandings all get straightened out and Elizabeth ends up keeping her job and column.

Sadly, however, in choosing Jefferson over John, Elizabeth loses that gorgeous farmhouse, so I don't know? Too bad Sloan wasn't feeling generous and didn't gift them the house!

At any rate, it's a wonderful holiday classic, and if you've never seen it I encourage you to! It's available for rent from Amazon for just $2.99 (no affiliate links, yet!).  Why not pour yourself a cup of tea or cider one cold, wintry afternoon during the holiday season and enjoy it for yourself!

Here's the original preview to wet your appetite!

Until then, I hope you have a marvelous Monday!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

A Need for Grace - .01

I own that I am disposed to say grace upon twenty other occasions in the course of the day besides my dinner. I want a form for setting out upon a pleasant walk, for a moonlight ramble, for a friendly meeting, or a solved problem.

1. For celebrating the holidays together again.

2. For the calming and grounding of traditions that always remain the same regardless of how other things may change.

3. For Christmas movies.  I've been watching some of my favorites this week, and seeing them again is like revisiting old friends.

What are you thankful for?

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Gathering - .01

1. Many of you are probably aware of Operation Christmas Child, but did you know that you can actually fill a box online?

Inspiration for all you weary moms out there who are struggling to "do it all", especially during the holiday season.

3. And speaking of doing it all, here's a wonderful list of 35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget!

4. Love this Country Christmas Bucket List to bring your family together!  But again, don't try to do it all!  Just pick a few things you know your family will enjoy, or read over the list with your family and decide together!

5. Looking for a little something to take the chill off after your holiday shopping?  Why not try this Slow Cooker Spiced Wine (Mulled Wine).  It will be ready and waiting for you when you get home!

6. Have you started your holiday baking yet?  If you're looking for inspiration or a fun cookie to add to this years spread, check out my Holiday Baking Pinterest Board!

"Peace on earth will come to stay, when we live Christmas, every day."
- Helen Steiner Rice

Friday, November 23, 2018

You May Never Eat Canned Again! - Pilgrim Sauce

Growing up, I never cared for canned cranberry sauce.  But for many years that opinion was based purely upon sight.  I don't care for anything "jellied", unless it's spread on toast, and just the sight of that tubular, dark red, jiggling sauce made me dizzy! I was pretty sure it was plastic, and regardless of how "wonderful" others claimed it tasted, I wasn't taking any chances.

But then a few years ago by some twist of fate, a bit of it ended up on my plate, and in one small bite I was hooked! The only problem was, while I did love the taste, the texture still left a lot to be desired.

Enter, Pilgrim Sauce!  I came across this recipe in one of my Gooseberry Patch Christmas books shortly after that fateful encounter, and decided to give it a try.  Oh my goodness!  I could eat this stuff year round, it is just that good! It is a staple on my Thanksgiving menu now! It is so good with a slice of turkey! But my favorite way to eat it is the next day, in a turkey wrap!

This is a recipe I found on Pinterest. Once I had discovered the joy of fresh cranberry sauce, finding ways to use up the leftovers was important so that none of that goodness went to waste! The thing I love about these wraps is that I am not big on leftovers, so if I can find a way to create some variety using common ingredients, I'm all for it!  This recipe uses both leftover turkey and cranberry sauce and the combination of the almonds, celery, mayo and spinach wrap is just delicious!

I'm including the recipe for both of these today, but if you already have a tried and true recipe for cranberry sauce, or even if you like the canned stuff, just use what you have for the wraps!  Either way, you are in for a treat and it will help you use up some leftovers!


1 can frozen cranberry juice, thawed.
(I had a hard time finding this for several years, and I have used substituted cranberry juice in its place and it worked fine!)
1/3 cup sugar
12 oz. package of fresh cranberries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 Tbsp. orange marmalade
2 Tbsp. orange juice
2 tsp. orange zest
1/4 tsp. allspice 

Combine cranberry juice and sugar in saucepan. Boil, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Add cranberries and cook for about 7 minutes until fresh berries pop and dried berries soften. Remove from heat.  Stir in marmalade, orange juice, orange zest and allspice. Chill until ready to serve.


3 cups Turkey , cooked and shredded (or chicken)
1/2 cup almonds , whole or sliced
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 - 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise (or Greek yogurt), to taste
1/2 cup cranberry sauce (or dried cranberries)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 - 4 large tortillas

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon filling into tortillas and roll into a wrap.

If you love cranberry sauce like I do now, you are sure to love these recipes!

Until then,

Thursday, November 22, 2018