On a Cold and Frosty Morning

We woke this morning to a thick frost covering the garden. At first glance, my daughters thought it was snow – oh how they yearn for snow ( which we so seldom have here by the coast), but when they realised it was just frost, they still ran outside to embrace the cold and to enjoy the crunch underfoot.

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DSC06696.JPGThe world seemed, for a moment, transformed into a shimmering, magical winter wonderland and we gazed in awe at the beauty around us. It reminded us of  Ferdie’s delight when he sees his favourite tree, now quite bare, cloaked in glittering frost and icicles.

I thank my children for giving me the gift of childhood wonder again. 🙂 

One thing my daughters were particularly delighted about was that Jack Frost had drawn feathery pictures on the single-glazed windows of our outside cabin;

“Just like in Laura and Mary in Winter, Mummy!” my youngest pointed out 🙂

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A little robin was clearly as  delighted by it all as we were.

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We also found a  layer of ice in our bucket to make an ice window, although after so many warmer days, we forgot to put any string in or other treasures, so we had to make do with standing it by our Buddha. 🙂

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What a magical start to the day. Everything felt fresh and sparkling and we relished it!  Tomorrow we set off for warmer climes, but we were so pleased to have this opportunity to embrace the beauty of winter.

Wishing you a magical start to 2017. 

 

Celebrating quietly and looking forward to the New Year

Today is already the Fifth Day of Christmas.

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We have five little booties hanging from a red ribbon on our mantlepiece to mark the passing of the days and we are enjoying reading our post-Christmas books. We always save reading Wenceslas until Boxing Day (26th December) and The Twelve Days of Christmas and the Babouschka stories come out on Christmas Day. We love singing around here and especially love a rousing song of Good King Wenceslas and The Twelve Days of Christmas :-).

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I had meant to write before, but we haven’t been feeling too good here, so I have been too exhausted to write in the evenings, which is when I usually write.  My husband has had a virus for over three weeks and my daughters and I have sore throats on and off and are easily tired out. We are trying to keep the virus at bay with regular diffusions of the “Four Thieves” oil combination (Clove, Lemon, Rosemary, Eucalyptus and Cinammon) as found here. I also rub the Onguard oil from Doterra on the children’s feet and have been known to drink it in warm mulled apple juice :-). I  really do think it is helping, but we are not on form right now, so we are staying low key and have had to cancel many of our lovely arrangements with friends, which is a shame, but can’t be helped.

The lead up to Christmas was actually very nice and slow. (I think starting earlier with my preparations helped a lot). On the 23rd, we spent a lovely day with friends running around a National Trust place near us, eating spicy biscuits and doing a winter trail.

On Christmas Eve, my daughters and I went to a Christingle Service at a local church; something we have done for many years. It always marks the start of Christmas for us. The service was beautiful and all the children were involved in setting up the stable. The Nativity story was told to us in such a detailed and imaginative way; it engaged both young and old alike. The sun had set as we left the Church and it felt like magic was in the air; as we imagined the imminent arrival of baby Jesus and of Father Christmas (!) during the night.

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There was much excitement as the girls hung their stockings, wrote their notes to Father Christmas and prepared a mince pie and a small glass of Baileys for Father Christmas and a carrot for the reindeer. The girls also received new pyjamas on Christmas Eve – something we have done for many years and is awaited by them with great anticipation! We also look at the Norad Santa tracker to see where Father Christmas is. It really captures the girls’ imagination.

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I managed to finish the Phoebe mice I have been knitting for my daughters. It was a close call and I was up until late on Christmas Eve still sewing the eyes, eyelashes and nose on (!), but it was so worth it. My daughters were delighted and are really loving their new friends Lily Lou (in blue) and Phoebe (in pink).

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My eldest daughter even said today that she loves her doll more every day. How to melt a mama’s heart 🙂

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I realised late on that I never did a gauge swatch and I think I used the wrong yarn too! (I was trying to use up  yarn I had left over from some ponchos I made my daughters last Christmas), so they may well be on the larger size! I also found I had quite a few gaps around the face and neck, so I wove the gaps together as neatly as I could. The Phoebe in the pink dress needed a scarf to hide her rather gaunt looking neck! But my youngest daughter is happy with her so that’s all that matters.

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Their dresses are also different lengths. I blame late night knitting!!!….

My daughters have asked me to knit them a cardigan each as they think they are feeling the cold! So I have printed out the Phoebe Mouse Sweater pattern to take away to knit when we go on holiday to the Canary Islands in a few days time. They will hopefully be nice and warm in their cardigans on their return to the UK in January 🙂

I made a start last night as I was itching to get knitting again.

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It is nice to be knitting with no deadline this time. I was up until 1am on more nights than I care to recall! It’s no surprise I am a bit worse for wear now, I suppose?

The girls made us some little homemade Christmas presents too, which we have hung in the tree. These are mine:

And these are for my husband to hang in his van:

My eldest also made her sister a secret Christmas skirt at her Dressmaking class. She has made her sister very happy!  I was so pleased to find this fabric in mid-December, as a lot of shops were running out of pretty, affordable Christmas fabrics and my youngest loves gingerbread men.

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I still haven’t finished the sewing projects I started here as we didn’t end up seeing many friends or any relatives in the weeks before Christmas, due to my husband being ill, so I have put these projects on hold until the New Year, when I will have more time.

On the 27th we had a dear friend round for food, fun and several rounds of charades! It made a nice change from just being us ( even if it wore us out somewhat…). She is a dear friend to us all and sometimes looks after our daughters for us for a day, so my husband and I can have some much needed time together.Our daughters just adore her: she is quiet and thoughtful like them and creative with a good sense of humour, so they are well matched. 🙂

We made a selection of sweet treats to enjoy over the festive break. We try to make them with minimal sugar and wheat free. Some were better than others, but my daughters are used to these experiments 😉 and very much enjoyed having lots of biscuits to choose from!

As for the Nature table, it is full now. The fourth week of Advent brought the Shepherds to the hill, the Inn Keeper, the Angels and of course Baby Jesus on Christmas Day. I made these figures eight years ago. Mary isn’t in the right colours and I could definitely improve on them now that I have better sewing skills (I first learnt to hand sew in our Parent and Child group, when my eldest was two and this is where my love of making things for my children and for the Nature Table began), but somehow I never do. They belong to the Nature Table and what would I do with them otherwise? They are imbued with something special from all the years of walking the star path!

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Here is the angel (who climbs the blue silk ribbon star path) telling the Shepherds the good news on Christmas Day.

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And here are the shepherds arriving at the stable the next day with their sheep in tow.

The three wise men  have begun their journey to Bethlehem, where they will arrive on the 6th January ( Epiphany).

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They are making their way across our lounge to the Nature Table; a little way further each day. We don’t have camels, so are making do with these elephants (I just noticed one seems to be going backwards – Oops!)

The Christmas Play that our daughters performed for us was great. We weren’t allowed to take photos, so that we were fully present and didn’t distract them, but here is our entrance flyer and Rudolph 🙂 We were impressed how well it flowed and the igloo I mentioned here worked out well for all the costume changes too. 🙂

That’s our Christmas so far. Here are a few more photos of things that appear on Christmas Day.

We will be leaving for the Canary Islands on the 31st December, so I have a fair bit of packing to do until then and will have to take our decorations down tomorrow too 😦 . I am putting together, the things that we traditionally do on New Years Eve, to take with us and thought I would share them with you, despite this being a very long post and my being rather tired… I hope it makes sense!

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We are going to choose five stars each and write down something we enjoyed in 2016 on each of the stars. It can be very simple, but it is a great way to focus on gratitude and the good things that have happened in our lives. We will then hang them up as a garland, using the little pegs. In years gone by, I have cut out little leaves from green paper and pegged them to a branch as shown in this photo.

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The burlap will be tied around some greenery (that we hope to find) and we will write our wishes for 2017 on paper and tie it all up to be burned, so we can send those wishes out to the universe. Last year we burned them in our wood burner.

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We also do another lovely tradition that I thought I would share here in case any of you would like to do the same? There is something similar in the book All Year Round.

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I have gathered up these treasures to take with us.

You will need:

  • Dark blue tissue paper
  • Walnut halves – one per person
  • Little birthday candles – one per person
  • A pack of angel cards
  • Crystals and coins – for the abundance corner
  • A key and shells – for the adventure corner
  • Hearts – for the love corner
  • A pine cone, a toadstool and greenery – for the healing corner
  1. Lay the dark blue tissue paper into a shallow dish, such as a glass baking dish.
  2. Create a health, abundance, love and healing corner, so one of each in the four corners of your dish, by placing the above mentioned items there.
  3. Fill the dish with water to three quarters full – the walnuts boats will need to float on it.
  4. Place the little birthday candles in the walnut halves, fixing them in place by melting a little candle wax to the bottom of the walnut boat.
  5. Divide the angel cards evenly into four piles and place a pile in each corner.
  6. Now think of your intentions and your hopes for the New Year. Take it in turns to light your candle and gently set your little walnut boat afloat in the centre of the dish.
  7. Let your boat surprise you. When it arrives at its destination, take an Angel Card from that Deck.

Simple, but oh so beautiful and  such a lovely ritual to do with friends and family. I have found the cards and destination to be very apt over the years we have done this.

Enjoy! 

Hoping that you are enjoying the Festive season and are staying warm and well.

I will be back later in the New Year. Wishing you a wonderful start to 2017.

Joining Nicole for KKCO

Gingerbread houses and sleighs…

We had a nice quiet day at home today. My daughters have decided to put on a play for us on Christmas Eve. As far as I can ascertain, it involves Father Christmas, elves, a reindeer and lots of singing!

My daughters wanted to make some props and asked me if I could help them. First of all, they wanted to create a sleigh out of a cardboard box, so we pored over our Christmas books to find the right look for our sleigh and then I found a big cardboard box in the garage that was perfect for this project.  After I cut it out, my eldest daughter taped the sides together (so that the sleigh has sides to it) and we took it out into the garden to be painted, as it was a lovely sunny day.  They chose reds and golds.

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As you can see my daughters are still wearing their pyjamas. It was that sort of a day…

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They decided the sleigh needed presents, so I gave them a selection of small cardboard boxes that they wrapped in festive paper (recyled from presents in years gone by).
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The sleigh is packed and ready to go.

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Then there was a request for antlers from my youngest daughter, so once again we scoured our books and found a reindeer we liked in Dear Santa. I tried to copy the shape of the antlers and traced them onto card. My daughter has attached them to a hairband.

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And here are the sleigh, Father Christmas and the reindeer!

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As I have explained before, every week of Advent has a theme. This week is the ‘light of humans’.

So this afternoon, my daughters made gingerbread houses out of cardboard, complete with little gingerbread man. 🙂 My daughters don’t eat sweets and I wanted to make something longer lasting, so I made these up. (I actually cut the cardboard out last December, knowing I would like my daughters to make them this Christmas). We used what we had on hand; including buttons, shiny jewels, cup cake stickers, felt, rick rack and lots of glitter 🙂

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I helped them to cut out the felt “snow”, but otherwise they did the decorating themselves. Once they had glued all the embellishments onto their houses, I glued the sides together with a hot glue gun and added a roof.

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We even glued a bead handle onto the door

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My daughters are absolutely delighted with their efforts and very much enjoyed this activity.

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They have even decided to incorporate the houses into their Christmas Eve play!

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Here they are coming out of their igloo 🙂

What a lovely crafty day we had. My daughters were happily entertained; making things for and practising their play and I so enjoyed us working together. Days like these, when things go harmoniously and we have fun together are very precious to me. It isn’t always thus!

Wishing you all peace and harmony over the holidays

 

This past week (part 3)

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Just under a week to go until Christmas!!  We finally put our Christmas tree up on the day after my daughters finished school and it’s looking very festive around here. Hurrah!  My daughters put on some Christmas music and had a fun half an hour decorating the tree in all the lovely ornaments we have accrued over the years

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We have two trees this year as we treated ourself to a new one after 10 years. We have artificial trees  because we often go away on holiday to warmer climes at the end of December and I have always struggled with the thought of cutting down a tree for the sake of a week or so, although I do love the look and smell of a real tree.

Our previous tree is now in the family room at the back of our house and does look very artificial at this point, although the children have very fond memories of that tree and have adopted it as their tree for handmade goodness :-).

Our new tree in the lounge is much more realistic in appearance and shape and is taller too, which the children love as it dwarfs them. The angel now feels very high up!

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I needle felted her a couple of years ago and we all love her soft, ethereal look. My daughters added a star for her to hold this year. (I am not sure why she has a black spot by her hair on this photo…)

The past week was the week of animals as I mentioned here. We always try to echo this theme a little in a few of the things we do that week. To that end we:

  • We put out our bird feeders and took some nuts down to the park for the squirrels.
  • My daughters also decorated the guinea pig cage  as a treat of Bubble and Pipkin 🙂

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  • We needlefelted some coloured sheepswool onto polystyrene balls to make baubles to decorate the children’s tree.
  • We also made the gingerbread biscuits I mentioned here using seasonal animal shapes.

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I had hoped to make some bird food using pine cones smothered in peanut butter and birdseed and some popcorn and cranberry chains, but that will have to be for another day. The birds are well catered for at their feeding station right now. 🙂

  • On the nature table, animals have been added and things are filling up nicely.

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Joseph arrived on the fourth Advent Sunday and they are almost there! There is definitely magic in the air…

I am feeling a bit of pressure to finish my presents, especially the Phoebe mice for my daughters. I have knitted both mice now, but not done any weaving in or stuffing yet as I wanted to get the dresses knitted up first. When I have accomplished all the knitting I will feel better! I only have a couple of hours every evening to work on them as my daughters have been going to sleep later, now that they have finished school. I have been cosying up in our lounge watching one of our many Christmas films and knitting love into these little mice.

Here are the dresses in progress. One down, one to go….

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It is quite cheap wool, so the knitting doesn’t look as neat as I would like. Hey ho. Too late to be start afresh now! I will just keep going and hopefully all will be well.

As I mentioned, we are on holiday now and my daughters have been relishing all the extra time to play and craft in. We had a couple of quiet days at home as we were all exhausted by the end of the school term. Here are a few glimpses of what they have been up to:

Apart from these current makings, my eldest daughter came back home with her cross stitch work from school, which I have to show you here as it’s so neat and beautiful.

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They do cross stitch as their craft in the fourth grade and she is known to be the fastest and most accurate in her class. She is a very talented little crafter, I must say. 🙂

Apart from crafting, we had a wonderful outing on the weekend with dear friends at a National Trust property.  It was very misty, but that made it a lovely backdrop for a festive get together. Polesden Lacey is a large estate in Surrey. For Christmas the house was decked out in lavish 1930’s style. The girls had fun playing air football, dressing up as maids, writing a letter to Father Christmas and investigating the rather lovely 1930’s car parked infront of the house, which they had hitherto only ever seen in films.

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We are looking forward to a few more festive outings with friends over the Christmas break. I particularly love Christmas because it is the only time of year when everyone is on holiday at the same time throughout the Western world and there is a sense of  connection across the globe – a combined wish for peace, joy and happiness for all. At least that is my hope.
Now we are in the Fourth week of Advent; the light of humans.

Joseph has joined Mary and soon the Shepherds and the Inn Keeper will appear. We will no doubt be making angel and gingerbread men biscuits!  We are also hoping to make a gingerbread house out of cardboard and decorate it with materials that we have on hand, such as: buttons, rickrack, felt etc. I will share it if I get a chance before Christmas.

I will leave you now and wish you a Merry Christmas, in case I don’t show up here for a little while. Wishing you peace, love and much joy. 

Thanks for visiting!

Christmas books for children

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As I have mentioned in previous posts, we love books here. We find great comfort in time reading together and love to escape into the wonderful world of a beautifully crafted book. We have quite a selection of Advent and Christmas books for children ; some we purchased after enjoying them from the library; some we found in charity shops and some we were given. The illustrations are so important to me; that they be beautiful and wholesome. Occasionally a book is such fun, that I let that go, but I do so prefer a picture book with wonderful cosy illustrations.

I will share the titles here, but unfortunately I don’t have enough time to go into great detail about them right now.  More can be found in the reviews that you will find with the link. ( I do not have any affiliate links, but I find amazon reviews helpful for choosing books).

I will try to write a little about each one as we read them, so you might find more detail here as the days go by 🙂

There is still enough time to treat your loved ones to a nice picture book for Christmas:-)

These books are in English. We do have others in German, but will have to share them at some other point.

Stories for when you have half an hour or so to spend for some cosy reading:

The Story of Holly and Ivy Rumer Godden – one of our favourite Christmas books. A story of a little orphan girl, Ivy, who doesn’t have a foster family for Christmas. She is sent by train to an orphanage for babies over the Christmas period, but on the way, she goes in search of her imaginary grandmother in Aylesbury. Meanwhile a little doll, Holly is standing on the shelf of a toy shop waiting to be brought alive by the love of a child. At the same time an older lady suddenly gets the Christmas spirit and starts decorating her home for Christmas and starts imagining how lovely it would be to have a child at home with her and her husband for Christmas….A heart warming story about wishes coming true and the magic of Christmas creating miracles. Truely heartwarming.

Papa Panov’s Special Day – Mig Holder – another favourite of ours. Papa Panov is an old shoemaker and well loved character in his village. He is on his own at home on  Christmas Eve as his wife has died and his children have moved away. As he reads about the Nativity, he falls asleep and is woken by a voice he believes to be Jesus, telling him to look out for him on Christmas morn. He waits around all day, interrupted by various characters whom he helps in small but meaningful ways. At the end of the day he is disappointed not to have met Jesus, but then hears the voice again – telling him that his acts of kindness that day were noticed and appreciated. A really touching story with wonderful evocative pictures. It really warms my heart everytime I read it and brings a tear to my eye.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey – Susan Wojciechowski – this book is so wonderful. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is heartwarming. There are two main characters: Jonathan Toomey, a carpenter who has suffered loss in his life and is living as a virtual recluse, making wooden items for the locals to pay his rent and a young boy, Thomas whose father has died in the war and who has had to move to the countryside with his mother to live with an aunt. On his journey to the country, he loses his wooden nativity set, something very precious to him. His mother asks Mr Toomey if he could make another and here starts the beginning of a new relationship between the rather gruff  and cynical Toomey and the innocent and curious Thomas. His mother requests that Thomas watch Mr Toomey at work and after initially rejecting this, he decides to allow it and they both learn a lot in the process. A really lovely book with heart. There is also a film which I would highly recommend if you love the book.

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree –  Gloria Houston – another heartwarming Christmas book. Set in the Appalachian mountains, it is spring and a little girl, Ruthie and her father go in search of a beautiful balsam tree that will take pride of place in their church at Christmastime. Soon after her father is called to war and Ruthie and her mother have to manage alone. Towards Christmas, it becomes clear that her father is not coming home yet, so Ruthie and her mother start their journey high up to the rocky crags to find and bring back the tree with the help of their faithful horse Piedy. Ruthie has also been chosen to be the heavenly angel in the Christmas Nativity, but she is doubtful that she will have anything to wear, times being hard. Her mother manages to recycle some of her clothes to surprise Ruthie with a dress and a matching doll as a Christmas present. This book is full of hope and wonder and has a lovely happy ending. Beautiful illustrations.

Little Grey Rabbit’s Christmas – Margaret Tempest – we have lots of books in this series – there is one for every season and occasion! The illustrations are sweet and old fashioned and the story is always wholesome. Little Grey Rabbit and her friends celebrate Christmas with fun in the snow, carolling and time spent with good friends.

Shorter stories for younger children :

Dear Santa – Kathryn White – a very sweet story about a young bear who finds a lost letter addressed to Father Christmas and decides to take it upon himself to hand deliver the letter so the boy will not be disappointed.  With the help of his dear friend rabbit, they travel to the North Pole to meet Father Christmas and even take a ride in his magical sleigh. The boy receives his presents of course 🙂 The book comes with a couple of letters and envelopes so a child can write his/her own letter to Father Christmas. The illustrations are gorgeous.

Little Fairy’s Christmas – Daniela Drescher

Ferdie’s Christmas – Julia Rawlinson – this is one in a series of seasonal books about the sweet little innocent fox cub, Ferdie (there is an autumn and a spring one – we have them all!) Ferdie is worried that Father Christmas won’t find his friends’, the rabbits, house on Christmas Eve as they have moved. He works hard to lay down stick arrows to show the way, only to have his efforts foiled by a snowstorm. Of course it all ends well and the final illustration in these books is always a treat. Gorgeous watercolour style illustrations – a visual treat.

The Tomten and the Fox – Astrid Lindgren

Bear Stays Up for Christmas – Karma Wilson

Tales from Christmas Wood – Suzy Senior – this book is made up of several short chapters telling about different animal characters in Christmas Wood. The illustrations are just wonderful and the stories are sweet and simple.  All the different stories and characters come together in the final chapter when the animals discover a Nativity scene inside a barn and celebrate Christmas together. Lovely!

Little Duck’s First Christmas – Dawn Richards

Christmas in the Big Woods – Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Nutcracker – Gaby Goldsack

The Christmas Eve tree – Delia Huddy – set in London, a little crooked tree remains unsold on Christmas Eve. A young homeless boy asks if he can have it and sets it up in a cardboard box near the arches where the homeless spend the night. He buys candles for it and the tree and the homeless folk celebrate Christmas together with singing and lots of laughter and people gather round on their way back home from shopping or work. The pictures are very evocative of London life. After a while, the tree wilts and is taken away by a road sweeper, only to be secretly planted in a quiet corner of a park where the tree grows to be tall and strong. Heartwarming story.

Fun stories that my children like about when things don’t turn out as expected at Christmas: 

Santa’s Littlest Helper Travels the World – Anu Stohner

Christmas in Exeter Street – Diana Hendry – not my favourite pictures, but very funny and very English! A large family home soon fills up with relatives, friends, neighbours and some very unexpected visitors. After all the beds and sofas are occupied, the others find all sorts of unusual places to sleep; the bath, dresser shelves and the mantelpiece to mention a few! They all spend a very jolly Christmas together. A really quirky, fun book. My children love it! 🙂

Russell’s Christmas Magic – Rob Scotton

Simple picture books of the First Christmas:

The First Christmas – Gaby Goldsack

The Nativity – May Eliot

Room for a Little One – Martin Waddell – this is a story about the stable in which Jesus was born from the point of view of the ox. Before Mary and Joseph arrive, the ox invites an old dog, a cat and a mouse in to shelter from the cold. They all welcome each other, appreciating their need to shelter from the cold and to feel safe. When the donkey arrives with Mary and Joseph, they too are invited to take shelter in the stable, before their little one enters the world. Realistic style pictures accompany this short story.

We read this on  Christmas Eve night: 

The Night Before Christmas – Clement C Moore

Chapter books: 

Maria’s Kleiner Esel und die Flucht nach Ägypten – Gunhild Sehlin

Behold the Star – J B Phillips

Tumtum and Nutmeg’s Christmas Adventure – Emily Bearn

I think we have a few more that I haven’t mentioned. Will update if I find any more, but as you can imagine, life is full of activity right now!

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I hope you are enjoying cosy reading sessions with your own children. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the second week of Advent

The second week of Advent has just passed and we now have three candles lit on our Advent wreath and the sense of anticipation is mounting!

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As I mentioned here, each week of Advent has a different theme: the first week was the week of stones, crystals, shells and minerals. The second week was that of plants. To that end:

I added golden hazenuts, little shiny toadstools, silvery pine cone trees, a pot of paper flowers and bits of greenery to the nature table.

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Mary has moved several steps forward along her star path.

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This picture was taken in the evening on the third Sunday of Advent: we light the number of candles for the weeks of Advent and move Mary forward one star, whilst singing this song.

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This week, I also made our door wreath – recycling greenery that previously hung over doorways and from beams at our School Fayre and adding some homemade dried orange slices and rosehips from our local park.

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I also purchased a poinsettia, which is a must for my Advent experience. I have such happy memories of having a poinsettia at home as a child and ever since. I also treasure my candle bridge, as it reminds me of the German Christmases of my childhood and gazing in wonder at the candle bridges shining merrily from almost every window of the houses and flats I passed on my evening walks with my grandparents. They feel quintessentially German to me and I love them for it! There is such a feeling of  nostalgia for Christmases past at this time; the smells, the sights; the tastes; they all evoke childhood memories of cosy, magical times.

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This week I made sure we read this version of the Legend of the Poinsettia, The Christmas Eve Tree and The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree.

I put all our garlands up too. I use artificial garlands, purchased last year from a Garden Centre and have woven fairy lights through them and added an assortment of dried oranges, cinammon sticks, golden pine cones, red ribbons and artificial berries.

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I really love them. They feel so festive and look quite naturalistic too. We have one on the mantlepiece and two over our large doors at the back of our house.

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We always try to do a craft of some sort based on the theme of the week, but since my daughters were busily making gifts for their class secret santa, we made do with making plant shaped gingerbread biscuits;  in this case,  trees and holly.

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We used Khorasan (Kamut) flour, which my youngest daughter seems to tolerate and we find it works as a good substitute for wheat in this kind of recipe. They were spicy, with a good crunch; just as gingerbread biscuits should be. 🙂

The recipe is as follows:

120g flour

1/2 tsp of cinammon, ginger and bicarbonate of soda

30g unsalted butter

60g coconut sugar

1 tbl molasses and 1 tbl date syrup ( or 2tbl of one of these)

  • Sieve the flour, cinammon, ginger and bicarbonate of soda together.
  • Melt the butter, sugar and syrup together in a pan on a low heat.
  • When slightly cooled, add the melted butter mix to the dry ingredients and give a good stir, adding a teaspoon or two of cold milk or water if necessary to make the dough come together.
  • Roll the dough out between two sheets of baking paper to about half a centimetre thickness. We did this warm, but it said to chill the dough for half an hour. We were impatient for our gingerbread biscuits so couldn’t wait!
  • Cut out lots of lovely shapes
  • Bake the biscuits in a preheated oven at 160 C for about 7 minutes,depending on thickness and size of biscuit. Tiny biscuits only take 4-5 mins.

Yum! 

Below are the Secret Santa presents my daughters are making for their classmates. My eldest daughter’s boy classmate absolutely loves tigers so she wanted to make him a tiger hand puppet. She is so in love with it, she would rather keep it herself! But I remind her why she made it; to bring joy to this boy and she can always make herself one at another time.

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My youngest daughter is making a little gingerbread man ornament for her girl classmate. I helped her with the face as it was a bit fiddly for her.  She will finish it this afternoon as they break up from school tomorrow – hurrah! Can’t wait for a break from the early morning wake ups and the school run.

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For their teachers, they tied two clay dove ornaments (that they cut out last week), onto shiny red ribbon and also made little candy canes from two glittery pipe cleaners twisted together (that St Nicholas brought them last week). Simple things, but made with love. 🙂

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As for me, I am only managing to do one long post a week, as I am busy making, baking and writing my Christmas letters a lot of the time. My favourite kind of busy 🙂

Last week, I started another one of my little cushions that I make well deserving friends 😉 This friend was born only four days after my eldest and they have known each other all their young lives. I was planning to make it for her birthday, but with all the birthday preparations for my eldest daughter’s birthday and party, it went on the back burner. I now have a deadline to work to, for when we next meet, so that has got me motivated. I love the tree fabric at the back ( perfect for the second week of Advent 😉 ).

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I have also been asked by my sister to make bunting for her four children for Christmas. I finally bought the fabric on Friday, after much deliberation. I do so hope they like it. I put quite a bit of thought into it, so fingers crossed! I have almost sewn all the triangles together (except for one set). Now I just need to sew them onto some bias binding and hopefully they will be ready for our family get together this weekend.

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For the eldest fourteen year old girl

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For a 12 year old boy. He wanted his nickname on it and some emojis!

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For  10 and 8 year old boys who have a forest themed room

As for my making for my own daughters, here are their Phoebe Mice in progress. I sit down for a couple of hours every evening to work on them and I am hoping with steady progress, that they will be ready and waiting for my daughters on Christmas morn 🙂

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I hope you too are enjoying some festive crafting. Joining Nicole for KCCO.

Peace and Joy to you all. *

 

 

 

 

This past week…

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Our school Christmas Fayre is behind us now. The long setting up day on Friday, baking cakes into the night, the Fayre itself and its busyness and the clean up on Sunday has kept us busy over the past few days. We are pretty tired right now. Doing so much at a time of year when energies are low always wipes me out for a couple of days. But it was lovely. All the families pulled together and made the school into a beautiful winter wonderland. There was singing, delicious food (thanks to my talented hard working husband!), puppet shows, storytelling and a visit from the Snow Queen, there were homemade cakes galore, a chai cafe and lots and lots of crafty goodness. I don’t have many photos unfortunately as I was too busy on the day and I try not to post photos with people in them (and there were LOTS of people!) but here are a few before-the-fayre shots.

All the classes were involved in making the snowflakes and window star decorations and parents did the rest of the decorating with some help from the children.

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My eldest daughter’s stall did well; she sold all her paper angels, almost all the doll skirts and quite a few of the beanbags. The boxes didn’t go too well, so she is keeping them for next year and will put something in them to make them more appealing.  She is planning to make more paper angels next year too as they were very popular; people buying two to three at a time! We totally forgot about hanging the dried oranges though as we were in a rush that morning! As you can see in the (rather hazy) photo there was a last minute addition of dog biscuits!

Once she had counted her money, my daughter paid me back for the materials, gave a percentage to the school and let her sister choose a few things to buy at the Fayre, including this cute little needle felted owl, as a token of thanks for all her help with the preparations.

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My daughters have never had so much money. They were really excited by the possibilities. My eldest will probably keep one note of each denomination as she is so fascinated by them; only ever having had coins (from the tooth fairy or for her efforts with reading/practising her instruments).

The children’s stalls were really amazing. Such a high standard of work all round. One of the things my eldest treated herself to was a stress ball (a balloon with flour in it) made by one of the other children. She loves how it can be stretched into all kinds of shapes and how tactile it is. My youngest is going to make herself one and they have both decided to make their cousins some ’emoji’ stress balls following this simple video.

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They are always busy making things! Where do they get it from ?!! 😉

Yesterday after school, we went to the pet shop to buy some food for our guinea pigs, including a willow ball to play with. When we returned home, my youngest daughter declared that they must have the ball as a present for St Nicholas Day the next day, so we went to work right away. She asked me to cut out a felt stocking big enough to fit the ball in and she sewed it up using a zig zag stitch – she has only just started using the machine, following in her big sister’s footsteps… When my eldest came home from school, she added the rick rack and we added a couple of other adornments at her sisters request. The guinea pigs were delighted this morning. It is their favourite treat. 🙂

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As for me, I finally finished the Owlet sweater, complete with tiny little black eyes. My daughter originally wanted wooden eyes, but we couldn’t find exactly what she was after in the UK, so she decided on tiny black eyes instead, which you can only really see close up! She absolutely loves it! She has been waiting long enough for it and refuses to take it off! I never managed to block it, but it looks fine.

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I have continued to knit on the Phoebe mouse; two arms and one leg down, one leg to go (and ears…and another mouse and two dresses….eek! )

The first week of Advent  has passed and we already have two candles lit on our Advent wreath.

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The nature table now has crystals and shells added to it.

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and Mary is walking along her star path happily (we remove the stars as she goes)

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I try to do a little activity or craft based on the weeks character, so as last week was the week of stones and minerals, I decided to do a couple of things with clay:  

*  We rolled out some air drying clay and cut it into shapes, pressing some greenery onto it to create a pattern. We will use the shapes to adorn our tree and perhaps make a garland or as tags for Christmas presents. Let’s see. I found the idea in my favourite magazine Landlove.

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I also covered two crystals in the same clay and once it was dry, I put them out for my daughters to crack open in the morning – like little gnomes, hacking the rocks to find the treasure below 🙂

The 6th December is St Nicholas Day.

I have celebrated St Nicholas since I was a small child, putting my freshly cleaned shoes out on the night of the 5th for St Nicholas’s visit. This is a German tradition and we have continued it with our children. We read this German book about St Nicholas every 6th December. I love the pictures.

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St Nicholas left the girls a little present in their boots, which they leave by the door. This is usually an apple or satsuma, some nuts and maybe a few chocolate coins or a biscuit and perhaps a small toy or game. They were thrilled with what he brought them! ( I didn’t make the little doll, but isn’t she gorgeous!)

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St Nicholas also visited my daughters’ school today (although they know this is a teacher in disguise). Both girls declared that the real St Nicholas’s satsumas and nuts were so much tastier than ordinary satsumas and nuts!

The magic is still very much alive 🙂 

Joining Nicole at Frontier Dreams for KCCO

 

Autumn Goodbye and Hello Ice Windows!

On the eve of the first day of December, my daughters write their letters to Father Christmas, with their name, their age and what kinds of things they enjoy doing and how they are looking forward to his visit.

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In the night, the ‘elves’ come and pick the letter up whilst filling our fabric advent calendar with little ornaments. My daughters take it in turns to hang the ornaments on the bare branches on our Nature table every day.

 

We also have a little gnomes bonfire in the evening in our lounge. My daughters lined the gnomes up in front of our woodburner so they could all get a good view 😉

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and they threw all the leaves, conkers and other autumn finds into the fire as a farewell to autumn and to prepare for the lead up to Christmas.

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We sang this song:

“Autumn Goodbye
Autumn Goodbye
You may no longer stay,
Winter is on its way.
Autumn Goodbye
Autumn Goodbye.”

It was very sweet and a good moment to reflect on autumn and all that it has given us and to look forward to the winter months and the goodness they bring. We had a stunning sunset yesterday and the frost is crisp and crunchy underfoot.

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Infact last night we realised it was the perfect time to make an ice window. We have made these in years gone by in January, but since it is so cold now, I thought we should seize the moment ( it wasn’t particularly cold here in January last year). Some things just need to be done when the opportunity presents itself. And here it is!

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My daughters pointed out that the orange segments look like a face! They have already prepared another one for tonight, with a few more items in it.

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As you can see, we filled a plastic trug with water (once we used a saucepan, but we couldn’t get the ice window out, so don’t do that!) and then floated our treasures on top. I also floated a piece of string in the water so that we could hang it up. If it doesn’t come out easily, use a knife or spatula to release the sides. Easy and so beautiful!