Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best TV Shows of 2011

10. Boardwalk Empire (tie)
10. Downtown Abby (tie)
9. Up All Night
8. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
7. Curb Your Enthusiasm
6. 30 Rock
5. Parenthood
4. Parks and Recreation
3. Modern Family
2. The Colbert Report
1. The Daily Show

Friday, December 30, 2011

Best Films of 2011

10. The Muppets (tie)
10. Bridesmaids (tie)
9. Tomboy
8. The Descendants
7. The Artist
6. Midnight In Paris
5. Moneyball
4. Hugo
3. Born To Be Wild
2. The Interrupters
1. The Help

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best Books of 2011

10. Process Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed by Bruce Epperly
9. Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin
8. Fire Monks by Colleen Morton Busch
7. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
6. The Price of Civilization by Jeffrey Sachs
5. Mouse & Lion by Rand Burkert
4. The Predicament of Belief by Philip Clayton and Steven Knapp
3. Bossypants by Tina Fey
2. The Flat World and Education by Linda Darling-Hammond
1. The Death and Life of the Great American School System by Diane Ravitch

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Best Albums of 2011

10. Gillian Welch - The Harrow & The Harvest
9. Common - The Dreamer/The Believer
8. Lady Gaga - Born This Way
7. Wilco - The Whole Love
6. Foo Fighters - Wasting Light
5. Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What
4. The Roots - Undun
3. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
2. William Elliott Whitmore - Field Songs
1. Adele - 21

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Free Holiday Songs from David Wilcox

David Wilcox has recorded four great Christmas songs. They're all very different. And they're free to download. Our favorite is "Jesus Ruins Christmas." Check out all the songs here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cherry Mash Bars

It's the holiday season. That means many things to different people. But the one thing that many people have in common is making special treats. One of our family's new favorite holiday treats is cherry mash bars. They are delicious and easy to make. There are many recipes online and in books. But here is our favorite:

2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup cherry chips
1 cup miniature marshmallow
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup salted peanuts

1. Combine butter, half-and-half, salt, and sugar in a saucepan.
2. Boil on low heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Mix in marshmallows and cherry chips. Stir until melted together.
4. Pour mix into a 8x8 or 9x9 square pan.
5. Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in a sause pan over low heat, stirring frequently.
6. Chop peanuts and then add to the mix.
7. Spread mix over cherry layer in the square pan.
8. Let mixture set in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
9. Cut into 1 inch squares.
10. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mary is in the Pink

St. Matthews-in-the-City in Auckland, New Zealand designed a billboard for the Advent season that features Mary holding a positive pregnancy test. The Church said: "Christmas is real. It’s about a real pregnancy, a real mother and a real child. It’s about real anxiety, courage, and hope...Mary was unmarried, young, and poor.  This pregnancy would shape her future." That is true! Clearly, the billboard highlights the earthy, gritty, and "real" aspects of Christmas. What does this image mean to you this season?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

In The Winter There Is Green

Peter Mayer's song "Green" is a great song for this time of year. Check it out:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Star Wars Advent Calendar

We like finding unique Advent/Christmas stuff. There's been some decent stuff this year. But thanks to Diana Butler Bass, we came across the coolest thing of the season: LOGOS Star Wars Advent Calendar. Here is the product description: "Christmas is almost here! With 24 unique gifts, including iconic minifigures, vehicles, and accessories from the Star Wars universe, the all-new LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar is the perfect way to set the festive holidays into hyperspeed!" It's just doesn't get any better than counting down to Christmas with Darth Vader and friends!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mary's Song (The Magnificat)

We wrote the song "Mary's Song (The Magnificat)" based on Luke 1:46-55. We figured that Scripture entitled "Song of Mary" really ought to be an actual song, so we took the text and put it to music. They are powerful, prophetic words that deserve to be in a song. We'd like to think that if Mary was an indie folk artist, her song would have sounded like this one! Not sure. In any case, have a happy Advent.

Click here to listen to or download the song. It's free during the month of December.

"Mary's Song (The Magnificat)"

And Mary said,
My soul praises the Eternal One
and my spirit rejoices in God
for God has looked with favor on this peasant girl
the lowliest of all
But God has accepted me just as I am
So others may see me too
God has called me to this mission
All generations will call me blessed
For me and through me great things will take place
For I have known the love of God
Incarnate, revealed to us, God’s perfect love
Holy is God’s name
God has shown justice, God has shown love
God has inspired us to give what we have
Scattered the pride in the hearts of the proud
Strengthened the pride in all those trodden-down
Brought down the lofty from powerful thrones
Searched for the lost ones and brought us back home
God works through people and nature divine
God acts among us from now throughout time
Incarnate, revealed to us, God’s perfect love
Holy is God’s name

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Clean Water for Elirose

One billion people on earth don't have safe water to drink. It's hard enough to talk about topics like this with adults. But it's another thing altogether to talk with children about them. But that is exactly what Ariah Fine has done with his children's book, Clean Water for Elirose.  He tells the story of children drinking things like strawberry milkshakes, soda pop, and fruit drinks. But he also tells the story of children who don't even have safe water to drink - and what one community does to help them because of a few caring children. The narrative is educational, entertaining, and empowering. The illustrations are vibrant and engaging. And there are discussion questions and activities for kids in the back of the book.

Clean Water for Elirose is a great book to help kids learn about a social injustice while also exploring how they could help change the world for the better. As an added bonus, the author donates all the profits from book sales to organizations like Charity:Water which build clean water wells. So this book isn't about making money, it's about providing empowering tools for kids. Plus it might just help change the world in real and practical ways.

Clean Water for Elirose is an excellent book for families, schools, synagogues, churches, etc. Check it out here.