Saturday, December 24, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
I've been promising to share photos of our decorations above our fireplace and the sun came out today and I thought if I don't get some good pictures now we may not get any light again for a while *grin* so here they are :)
I had mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my son was working on making a cardboard 3D silhouette of Rudolph to hang above the fireplace and it turned out fantastic!! I found it originally on pinterest but the link only gave plans for a very small one that you could print on your printer so he drew a larger one freehand and it must be about two and a half feet high filling in the mantle space right to the ceiling.
Another special ornament I made this year was all due to my lovely blog friend Amy who shared about the Finnish Stars she had made out of fabric and I was completely smitten with hers and had to make some of my own. Oh my word do I just love how these turn out and there are quite a few people on my Christmas list getting these this year *grin*.
I used heat 'n bond between my layers of cotton and linen, I'm not sure if she glued hers together this way, but I found that I could stick quite a few portions of each star together with little squares of the heat 'n bond in one swoop of my iron and the glue layers stiffened it up quite nicely :) They are a bit tedious to make like she had mentioned but after the first couple it seemed to move a long a little quicker but now that I've made eight of them I'm glad to be finished LOL.
Beneath the candy canes and finnish stars, rudolph we placed some of our mini gingerbread houses that we made last year and a few decorative trees and called it complete.
I wanted to keep everything really simple this year so the decorations are really minimal, not to many lights or knic knacs and most of what we used we baked, sewed or made from paper aside from a few sugary items. As I strive to personally keep my focus on the calm joy of the season and on family and faith I find it helps to keep all the surrounding noise of excess items to a minimum so I don't get distracted. So far so good *grin*.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
We finally picked the perfect tree and the children each took a turn sawing through its trunk and off home we went with our tannenbaum :) We've set it outside the front door for the night to dry off a bit and tomorrow it will make its way into our family room where we can get it all decorated up just in time for Christmas eve!
Sunday saw us light our fourth candle for advent and you should have heard the squeals of delight as the youngest two realized that we were only days from Christmas :) We made our last trip into the city this morning to pick up a few last minute things we needed and now we're ready to snuggle down in our home for the rest of the holidays.
Hubby is home until the day after boxing day and I couldn't have wished for a better Christmas present! We're all together and what a special time we will have :)
Friday, December 16, 2011
Thank you everyone for all of the lovely birthday wishes that you sent my way earlier this week :)
We still don't have a drop of snow even though it has tried the last couple of days with the constant grey and drizzle but it looks like we just might be in for a green Christmas! Not that I mind terribly as it makes winter driving much nicer but I know the children are longing for it and just itching to try out their new snow gloves that we just bought. We've got all the appropriate gear now and nowhere to wear it *grin*.
Despite the wet weather we have ventured outdoors to say hello to our baby. Well actually he's really not a baby anymore but he likes to think he is especially with all the ruckus he makes if we don't pay enough attention to him when we're nearby :)
The children collected a good pile of cedar boughs, laurel bush and this lovely cotoneaster for our mantle and it looks and smells so festive in our family room now with it above the fireplace. I've tried numerous times to get a good photo to share with you but it has been so dark and grey that my photos just look terrible so hopefully the sun shows up soon so I can get a good shot *grin*.
I've had a little sack of Kamut grains in the cupboard that my mom had given to me and they have just been waiting to be used in the perfect recipe and yesterday I finally found one! Tasha at Clean Eating Mama shared the most delicious recipe for little Kamut/walnut thumbprint cookies and oh my word they are SO good *grin*. Luckily I had all of the ingredients on hand and we whipped up a double batch so we would have plenty to share on Christmas eve :)
My nutrimill made a beautiful fine flour from the Kamut and it truly is a caramel color when it comes out like she notes in her recipe and such a wonderful flavor. Now I'm going to have to see what else I can make with it! If you have a tried and true Kamut recipe or one you've been eyeing up I'd love to know about it :)
Monday, December 12, 2011
It's been a busy couple of days :)
We had family visiting from out of town, a special outing to listen to the Christmas choir singing at one of the churches in the city which was such a treat, catching a few last minute craft fairs and a few trips transporting Hubby to and from his tug boat for work.
It's okay though because today was my birthday and I got to sleep in and catch up on some rest and relaxation *grin*. The children made me the cutest little handmade birthday cards and my mom had all of us for cake. A delicious hazelnut torte filled with apricot jam and brushed with Austrian rum... so yummy! So good in fact that it disappeared much to quickly as we sipped our coffee that we had to splurge and have a second slice :)
The days leading up to Christmas eve seem to be zipping by really quickly and I've been working on making a list of all the things that still need to be done. I've been spending an hour each evening working on a few fabric Finnish stars that I want to give to my mom and my mother in-law and the children requested felt dragons earlier in the year after seeing the one I had made for Michaelmas so they have been cut out and are waiting to be sewn...
but when we lit our three candles last night for advent it reminded me of the peace and joy of the season that we are embracing and that I need to focus less again on the hustle and bustle of 'getting it all done' and more on family and togetherness. I found that in the past I get very caught up in doing and this year is all about the enjoying *grin*.
So far I think I'm doing a pretty good job at it and the sparkle in the children's eyes has never been so bright :)
Thursday, December 8, 2011
We're still sprucing up our mantle and today my oldest started working on a 3D silhouette of Rudolph the Reindeer that will have antlers, a red nose and will eventually be hung above the fireplace. I knew I had been hanging onto those large pieces of corrugated cardboard for a reason!
The temperature has fallen below zero and we've had a good perma freeze for the last couple of days so both of the woodstoves have been going 24/7 to keep both ends of our home warm. That means an awful lot of firewood is making its way in and out of the basement and the children have been a HUGE help :) Today all three of them went out to bring more in with big brother filling and rolling the wheelbarrow to the basement window and then the younger ones handing it in to him so that it could be stacked up right away and keep the bark mess off the floor just in case we have a repeat of our flooding again.
I've been watching the newspaper for special Christmas choral preformances that are family friendly and free which is a big perk and this Sunday one of the churches in the city is hosting a Christmas choir and I can't wait. I just love listening to the large choirs sing. So beautiful and only a few more sleeps to go *grin*.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
We made Nicholas shaped cookies using this speculaas recipe which is so yummy with its ground almonds in the dough and lots of spice and the children had fun decorating him with raisins, chocolate chips and sunflower seeds :)
One of the things that we really wanted to do was pack a little tin full and surprise someone with it in secret but since our closest neighbor is my mother we thought it would be fun to see if we could get away with dropping it off at her door and not getting caught!
So with the cookie tin in hand all three of the children raced up to her house as fast as they could and then snuck as quietly as they could to the door, banged on it hard and then ran for their lives LOL.
A few minutes later the phone rang of course asking if it had been us and we denied it *grin*. She had no idea where they had come from so it was a very successful ding dong ditch LOL.
Did you celebrate Saint Nicholas' Day? I would love to pop over and see what you did to make it special :)
Monday, December 5, 2011
Every year on December 5th Saint Nicholas returns to earth on his white horse and visits the homes of children leaving them gifts in their shoes that have been set out by the door.
When I was a little girl my father would tell us tales of St. Nicholas from when he was a little boy in Austria and of how St. Nicholas would visit their house in the evening and occasionally with him came the Krampus. A devil like beast with chains that would chase them around if they were found to have been bad until they promised that they would behave better from then on. Of course the chase was frightening but if they promised to be good they were rewarded with treats from St. Nicholas :)
Now the Krampus never visited us thank goodness but that definitely puts a new spin on the old 'you better watch out, you better be good' saying for old Santa Claus. If I knew the scary man with the chains was coming I would have been on my best behavior a lot more *grin*.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Tonight we lit two candles for advent starting with the one we lit last week and then the lighting of a second one to symbolize love and family. We spent the entire day reading Christmas books, baking and just enjoying one anothers company. I couldn't help but think how blessed I am to have three beautiful children and how homeschooling allows us to spend so much time together :)
Rudolph Steiner incorporates the four kingdoms into the four weeks of advent and for the second week he shares:
“The second light of Advent is the light of plants–
Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.”
So this week we will plant our paper whites which I have been sprouting in the dark pantry and we will gather and bring in pinecones along with some fresh cedar boughs from the cedar tree in the back yard. I can't wait. They are going to smell so good!
Our nativity set has made its way to our table as well and the children have been happily arranging and rearranging all of the figures. This week we will have an empty barn and manger and the angels singing but for now I'm letting everyone have a little play time *grin*.
One of the lovely ideas in our Celebrate the Joy holiday book is the filling of an empty manger all month long with bits of straw, string and what not so the kids built a little manger out of popsicle sticks and I found a bunch of natural colored raffia that looks like hay for them to cut and place inside of it. Each morning they pull a little bit out of the top of the mason jar, snip it off and then put it in our manger. By the 24th it should be overflowing and ready for our little baby Jesus to be placed within :)
Friday, December 2, 2011
The magic of the Christmas season is building at our home :)
Yesterday I bundled up the children, grabbed a hand saw and we all headed out for a little trek in the frosty fresh air. I love to keep everything a secret so they had no idea what their mama was up to except that I needed them to spot a nice thick tree limb that we could cut down for something special *grin*. When they finally decided that a nearby maple tree had the nicest limbs, my oldest cut off one for us to bring indoors.
You can just imagine the puzzled looks on their faces when I proceeded to hang it up with a couple of ribbons below the mantle over our fireplace....
The maple limb is going to hold each of our little stuffed creations that make up our advent calendar this year :)
In previous years we have occasionally had those store bought calendars where the doors pop open to reveal a little chocolate and some really sweet paper ones with Christmas scenes beneath each little flap but this time I wanted to use one that we made ourselves.
The children helped sew and stuff some of the decorations and others I made after they went to bed so they would be a surprise and to number each of the decorations I needle felted the numbers onto the fronts of each one free hand using some pretty colored corriedale rovings that I have. I can't wait until a few more days have passed to see them start to line up all down the maple limb :)
I don't think I have been this excited about the holidays in quite a few years and I have quite a list of little crafts to make and special outings to take each day with the children as we grow nearer to the 24th :)
Our favorite Christmas books have been pulled from the shelves and placed within easy reach with more coming that I've ordered from the library and I pulled out the pretty linen with its red Scandinavian border in the above photo from my special stash for sewing a table runner to be placed on the coffee table beneath our advent candle holder and manger scene. The mantle is ready for fresh greenery and paper snowflakes and soon I think our tree will make an appearance to *grin*.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Sunday happened to be the day we were stranded at my mom's house during our flooding but she has the very same advent candle holder or Aadventsleuchter as me so during dinnertime we set it on the table and lit the first candle starting our journey of filling our hearts with the joy of the season and getting ready for baby Jesus' birthday :)
Over the past several years I have slowly been moving our family further away from the hub bub of purchasing mass amounts of unnecessary gifts and the focus on santa and what he is going to bring us. Instead of all that we think of all the good deeds we can do for others during the holiday season and what special handmade gifts we can make for one another. One of the books that I love to pull out for inspiration on scriptures to read, craft ideas and ways to make Christmas even more special is Celebrate with Joy by Sondra Burnett. I've had it for a quite a few years and while I've read it over and over many times I always find something new to add to our festivities :)
This year I thought it would be fun to make our own advent countdown calendar since everyone is old enough now to wield a needle and thread *grin*. I've been cutting out little felt hearts, stars, gingerbread men, trees and more and we've been stitching them together and filling them with a bit of wool stuffing every afternoon. I have a few more that I'm going to finish up tomorrow and we'll have them all ready for the first of December.
In the coming days I'm looking forward to sharing stories with the children about St. Nicholas to and how he gave selflessly to others without any expectation of receiving something in return and I have a big baking party in the works. Every December there is a seniors dinner at our community hall that is open for everyone to come down and enjoy and if you are home bound you can also have a meal delivered right to your door. How great is that! So I thought it would be fun for us to bake cookies for the dessert portion of the meal that can be taken home and enjoyed later and it is something that even my 5 year old can do and feel really proud of himself for helping with :)
I just love this time of the year *grin*. I just pulled out my stash of hot cocoa and am looking forward to crafting and sipping it in front of the fire with the children. They don't know it yet but I'm going to set aside a few special nights for each of them to spend some one on one gift making time with me to so that if any of them needs help finishing or making a gift they can do that after the others have gone to bed. What child doesn't love staying up later to work on secret projects :)
What do you have planned for the holiday season? Also hop over to Frontier Dreams to read more lovely entries others have shared about this week's advent.