Advent, week 3

22 12 2010

Can you believe Christmas is almost here already?  I look at our advent tree and see those three ornaments left and just wonder where the time went.  At least I can say our Christmas cards went out; this is the first year we have managed that feat before Christmas has come and gone!

We have been busy with our activities; here’s the rundown:

Day 16: Make cinnamon ornaments.  I had seen a ton of ideas on the Crafty Crow for making ornaments but I really liked this idea from 5 Orange Potatoes because (1) it was made using things I have on hand and (2) it’s like cutting playdough which is always a hit in our house.  It was really easy, just mix 1 cup applesauce, 1 cup cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon glue.  Roll out, cut shapes and let dry.  I did as suggested and baked them at 200F and flipped them every 15 minutes till dry.  Patience is not my forte!

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I did make holes before baking, with a straw for the big ones and a toothpick for the small ones.  It made lots and lots!  We decorated some with glitter glue and some we left plain, made pipe cleaner loops and strung them up as a garland. 

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Day 17: Make Christmas trees.  This was just a catch-all craft category on a day I didn’t have much time to spare.  We did these trees from Frugal Family Fun Blog, though they didn’t work so well with construction paper (a little too floppy).  Not surprising but I just used what I had!  BB stamped it and glued on sparkly snowflakes.  Then we did a tissue paper on contact paper craft like our autumn tree.  I had had some more in mind but there wasn’t time. 

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Day 18: Take a winter hike.  My husband was actually home, so we were able to all go out to Wild Wings and see the birds of prey, then take a short hike to feed the chickadees.  They come to eat out of your hand, which is not really the least invasive way to observe nature, but it’s LOTS of fun. 

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I mean, holding a bird in your hand, how cool is that?!?

Day 19: Make a gingerbread village.  Here’s another one where I came to my senses.  I mean, we’re not going to eat it, so does it really have to be home baked?  I bought a Wilton kit on sale and figured it was cheaper that way since I didn’t have to buy lots of candy for decorating.  It was a lot harder than I expected, and I had to do most of it because the frosting was so hard to work with that BB couldn’t really use it at all.  But he happily sprinkled candy on the rooftops of the houses.  I worked as fast as I could to keep up with him and the result is not much like the picture but it’s a cute little centerpiece for the table. 

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Day 20: Make ice cream.  This was one of those things that was maybe more for me, and for the convenience of using up cream that was about to go bad, but ended up with stellar results.  Described in detail in the previous post, should you want to try this. 

Day 21: Make gifts for teachers.  Last year I was up half the night making chocolate dipped pretzels, so I swore this year I would find something easier.  I had seen this recipe for hot chocolate on a stick on giverslog a while back and decided this would be it.  A little risky doing something for the first time when you need it to work…sure enough, they did not release well from the molds and the look a little wonky.  BUT!  Finally I have a gift that BB could help with.  To go with the hot chocolate on a stick I used our homemade marshmallows to do some cutouts and we decorated them with colored sugar.  Who wouldn’t love hot chocolate and marshmallows?  (I’m hoping the answer is not “BB’s teachers”.)

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Day 22: Make cookies.  This was another practical one since I need to take cookies for BB’s Christmas party tomorrow.  Fun!  We made lots and took some to the neighbors too, and still have lots left for eating.  I made some baby-sized cookies with the last bit of dough; they are a much more reasonable size, IMHO.  The ones for school are unfrosted (they will be decorating them at the party) but I made some icing and we used our leftover colored sugar and gingerbread village decorations to decorate a few for immediate consumption. 

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Yum!  The next few days will be pretty simple; Christmas party at school, Christmas eve service, and then Christmas day!  So this is the end of my little advent series.  We have had a great time and I wonder what we will do from here… quite possibly more “educational” type stuff will fill our days.  BB has shown an interest in writing letters and spelling words, and counting too, so I might try to set up some school time to keep us busy.  Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

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Advent, Week 1

7 12 2010

So, after the massive push to organize advent activities, you might be wondering what the results have been so far.  Here’s a rundown:

Day 1: Put up decorations.  This was a bit underwhelming.  Somehow I thought we had more decorations than we actually do.  BB found “ghostie”, our color-changing Halloween decoration and was much more captivated by that than the wreath for the door and vase of fake poinsettias.  I can’t blame him. 

Day 2: Go to Park Ave Holiday open house.  This sounded like so much fun, but wouldn’t you know it, it was a day that the kids didn’t nap and there was no way I was dragging them out after dinner when they are tired and cranky.  Lesson learned!  Evening activities will not go on the calendar again; they happen if they happen but we will plan on simpler things.  Instead we actually just did some other crafts with stuff I had on hand, some glue snowflakes (idea seen here) and a “mixed media craft” (i.e. some glue, stamps, and whatever random Christmas stuff we have lying around).  I did the glue snowflakes and BB glitterified them, but the other craft is all him. 

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Day 3: Make a garland.  Pretty simple!  We had fun making it.  Here it is:

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Simple as it is, it really makes our house look more festive, given our sparse decorations beforehand. 

Day 4: Our mom’s group Christmas party.  I knew this was going to take a while and include a craft so I wimped out and we did not do anything else that day. 

Day 5: Set up the Christmas tree.  Yes, we have a fake pre-lit tree that we got at Big Lots.  It’s nothing special but on a limited budget it’s nice we don’t have to buy a tree every year.  Sadly I don’t have a picture of this yet, but the kids are fascinated with it!  And let’s just say that the plastic ornaments from Target that went on the lower half of the tree are not as unbreakable as I thought they were!

Day 6: Make a birdfeeder.  I was going to do pinecone birdfeeders but we got dumped on with snow and it would have been hard to find pinecones, so this is what I came up with:

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I poked some holes in a paper towel roll and a TP roll, put craft sticks through for perches, and we spread peanut butter on and rolled it in birdseed.  BB loved this and would not stop talking about it, but sadly, 2 days later, we have yet to have any feathered friends come visit.  I even got a suet feeder so we could see if different birds came to different feeders…. well, at least the squirrels haven’t gotten them yet. 

Day 7: Go to library to check out Christmas books.  BB’s response this morning, “Oh.  Do we have to?”  Me: “Yes!  It’ll be fun!”  BB: “ohhhh-kaaayyy.”  What are you, 16?  So. little. enthusiasm.  He has enjoyed reading the books we got, but wow, that was not a great response to that activity. 

Odds and ends: Building a nativity?  What was I thinking?  Sometimes people just need to smack me back to my senses.  I saw this post and went out and got a little people set too  It has already taken much abuse been much loved. 

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Baby Jesus has been on many adventures, although LB prefers the camel.  You know what’s funny though, when my husband saw the set his first response is “You bought a nativity?  Why don’t you guys just make one?”  Hahaha!  Great minds think alike.  But in this case he conceded that a chewable nativity was better than a handmade one. 

That’s about it around here, now I just need to get something up for tomorrow…