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Glad tidings: brand new Free and Premium Downloads and a nativity sheet!

Rating: 6 votes, 5.00 average.
A long hiatus — a 9,000 mile road trip from the Midwest to the West, then East Coast, and back — makes this enthusiast long for his X-acto knife and paper nativity sheets…

The fold-out Thurible Nativity No. 8 — now a brand-new Premium Download — is among the most beautiful in the Crèchemania collection. 

"Gloria in Excelsis Deot!" banners in English, French, German, Spanish, Czech, Portuguese, and Greek are included in the Thurible Nativity No. 8 Premium Download. Don't see your language? Contact me with the text, and I'll do my best! 
Last time I saw majestic Mt. Rainier, I was a young 2nd Lieutenant, based in its shadow, at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Now I had a chance to visit the Pacific Northwest again, and a business trip to Seattle turns into an adventure. I follow I-90 through South Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington State, stopping along the way to meet wonderful people and photograph beautiful churches.

And monasteries: All Merciful Saviour Orthodox Monastery on Vashon Island, where Abbot Tryphon and the Fathers welcome me with Greek coffee and loukoúmia Turkish delights; and the St. John the Forerunner Greek Orthodox Monastery in Goldendale, Washington, home to an iconography studio and a bakery stuffed with delicious Greek treats.

Languid days spent in the Olympic Peninsula years ago race by as I zig-zag on Hwy 101 heading north towards Port Angeles, and Victoria, Vancouver Island, to photograph the Nativity window of St. Andrew Cathedral.

Then on to Vancouver by ferry, and a search for churches sans my trusted GPS, since my smart phone does not work in Canada. Oh, discovering the joys of map reading again, I skill I haven't really practiced since my army days when we were dropped by helicopter into the rain forest in the middle of the night!

I will save the account of my visit with Louis Dausse (pronounced "Does-see") and his wife Barbara in Portland for another time, but I must tell you how wonderful it was to meet the patron saint of U.S. paper modeling. And Barbara's apple strudel? Delicious.

And I couldn't drive through the Salt Lake City area without knocking — surprise! — on Jennifer Hooton's door.

The Thurible Nativity No. 8 features four layers: the front; the Magi; the Mother and Child, Joseph, and a shepherd boy; and the manger. 
After being home for a short while, it's time to head East and a New York City photo shoot. My first overnight planned stop in South Bend turns into two days and three nights: I could have spent hours and hours in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, alone, not to mention the other beautiful churches of South Bend.

But my good friend Sam and his wife Voula were waiting for me in Detroit. I'm fond of saying that I've only had two bosses in my life: Uncle Sam — when I was in the army — and Sam, a retired restaurant entrepreneur. Sam gave me my first bus boy job when I still could not speak English, and he has been keeping a watchful eye over me ever since. Sam is also a superb chanter, and I would join him chanting at The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Sioux City, Iowa before he and Voula moved to Detroit to be near their three physician sonsb

Sam has the whole Orthodox Church liturgical library in his home, knows just about every hymn by heart, and, and we're chanting in the car as he's driving me from church to church in the Motor City. When I set up my tripod in a church and start to shoot, he starts to chant. I join in, just like the old days, chanting by heart hymns I thought I had forgotten long-ago. But with Sam next to me, Greek trips off my tongue.

Three sunny, beautiful days later, it is, sadly, time to say goodbye and head East. Voula hands me a large care package, and I'm off. But as soon as I cross into Canada, the good weather I was blessed with through 6,000 miles of my West Coast and this trip is no more. Driving rain and strong winds shake my van, and there is nothing to do but keep driving — and munching on Voula's fruit and pastries — for 642 miles to Lebanon, Connecticut, home to my good friends Al and Aliki.

It breaks my heart not stopping to photograph the beautiful churches of Toronto and Montreal, and by the time I knock on Aliki's door, it's late at night. Surely, I'll be waking them up? But Aliki is in her spacious kitchen, surrounded by sweet, honey-dipped finíkia pastries; platters-full of tasty Greek meatballs; and mounds of tyrópittes (cheese triangles).

It feels like I'm back home in my village in Greece, what with a large antique loom sep up in her living room, courtesy of Al, a math and woodworking genius. In fact, I haven't slept under a hand-woven blanket since I was a little boy — but I did; at Alikis'!

The next day Aliki and I are off shooting churches, including Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Norwich, Connecticut, and St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church in New London. But all too soon it's time to head to New York and my Central Park shoot.

Read all about the new Free and Premium Downloads in Crèchemania's Paper Model Kiosk Newsletter. Better yet, become a Registered User and be the first to get all the latest news. 
But first I have to pick up my photo team at La Guardia at 11:30 a.m. But the rain is back, and I know what that does to flight schedules. So I park myself at my favorite Omonia cafe in Astoria — ten minutes from La Guardia — and order a rizógalo (rice pudding).

I've asked my team to call me when they're actually coming down the luggage escalator, but noon comes, my phone is silent, and I order a spanakópitta (spinach pie). At 12:30, I order a Greek coffee, and I'm about to pick up the menu again — I don't find myself in a Greek bakery often enough! — when my phone rings.

New York is beautiful, and shooting in Central Park's Bethesda Fountain? A dream. Times Square, Broadways shows, Greek food at Uncle George's in Astoria. I hate having to leave, but I have an interview in Philadelphia. But I leave all the churches in the city of Brotherly Love behind and hurry West, just barely escaping the snowstorm that felled 1,000 trees in Central Park, alone.

After being home for a few days, I know I have to do what long days on the road — by the time I do my backups of the day's images, it might be after midnight, and 7:00 a.m. comes all too early — don't always allow: To get in touch with you.

And now, I have.

I would like to also say "Thank You!" to Scott Smith (see S. Smith Photography — spiritual images imbued with beauty, grace — and faith) for the beautiful framed Nativity stained glass window photo that was waiting on my desk when I got home.

This Christmas die-cut can be yours — as the Boughs of Holly Free Download. 
My days home have flown by, working on Free and Premium Downloads for you.

They're all included in Créchemania's Paper Model Kiosk Newsletter (see image at left), which I'm sure you're receiving. If not, become a Registered User, and be the first to hear of the latest news and downloads!

Crèchemania's latest Free Download, the Boughs of Holly Christmas Die-cut or Gift Card looks as bright and fresh as the day it came off the die-cut machine.

Send the Boughs of Holly Christmas Die-cut or Gift Card as a die-cut card, or you may print at a reduced size for a perfect gift card that wishes, "A Merry Christmas."

A brand-new Crèchemania offering — a Premium Download and a printed Nativity Sheet of the same crèche. 
One of the new Premium Downlods, the Thurible No. 8 Nativity, is one of my favorites, and among the most beautiful of the Crèchemania Collection. And, just in case you're wondering where do I come up with these names, I'll say that there are only so many times you can call a crèche, "Seven-Pointed Star Nativity," "Angelic Host Crèche," "Palms Crib," or "Vintage Nativity." Then you have to get creative.

Thurible Nativity No. 8 was named for the censer held by the kneeling Magi at left (top of page) filling the air with a cloud of sweet incense. Thurible, from the Latin thuribulum, and the Greek thyos incense.) So "Thurible Nativity" it was, and, in particular, "No. 8." Because a look at Crèchemania's Gallery will show you at least ten similar nativities. So there's more beautiful "Thuribles" yet to come!

I should also mention that the Thurible Nativity No. 8 was the one I took apart — not a task ever done lightly, nor for just anybody! — for my good friend Celso Rosa. Celso had driven nine hours nonstop to visit me when he was in Chicago on business from Brazil, and giving him a scan for his nativity that was missing the stable was the least I could do.

Celso has also generously shared his nativities in our Free Downloads, so be sure to check Crèchemania's Downloads page.

And Celso has just provided me with, "Gloria in Excelsis Deo!" in Portuguese, and so the Thurible No. 8 banner proclaims, "Glory to God in the Highest!" in — besides Portuguese and English — Latin (printed on the front) and, in banners that you can cut out and attach, French, German, Spanish, Czech, and Greek.

You don't see your language? Please text it to me, and I'll do my best.

Bethlehem Nativity Premium Download. 
The Bethlehem and Straw Roof nativities — available individually or, with the Thurible Nativity No. 8, as Crèchamania Crèche Collection at a special price.

And before closing I must tell you about a limited time only Paper Model Kiosk offering: the Egyptian Crèche Premium Download and Nativity Sheet.

The Premium Download I know you understand; but why, you may ask, a printed nativity sheet?

Because many of you tell me that you end up taking your download to a store, for a better quality print.

Ours is a professional, 8-ink print with ektachrome inks resistant to fading. And our professional-media paper not only produces an astonishing quality, but provides a heavier stock suitable for paper modeling.

Once you've assembled your large Egyptian Crèche Nativity Sheet and you might wish to print more you can do so, to your heart's content! Because bundled with the 9-inch wide Egyptian Crèche Nativity Sheet is a Premium Download, a 7-inch nativity that can be printed on standard 8.5 x 11 inch paper.

It's a win-win situation, as they say, and, by buying the nativity sheet and the Premium Download you save, so check it out.

There are only so many days until Christmas. Time to put away my mouse — and pick up my X-Acto knife!



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