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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Book A Day





My true love gave to me .... christmas books for nightly reading.


I'm so excited. Tomorrow is the first of December! Time to start unwrapping our daily christmas book!
The past few years I have been buying a couple new christmas books each year. This years inclusions were a Berenstain Bears Christmas Tree  and a beautifully illustrated 12 days of Christmas. I also picked up some Christmas Golden Books from a second hand book fair for $1.


I think I've now amassed maybe 22 christmas books? I thought I would stop at 25, but seriously if I find better ones I'll probably keep going, and as childrens tastes change? I figure even if I end up with a 100 over the many years it will be ok, cause then I'll be able to gift them on to my kids when they leave home (25 each ;)


It's fun when children grow they can become a more part of the preparation of Christmas traditions. A week back the kids were bored and had nothing to do so I suggested that perhaps they wrap our Christmas books. And voila all done for me! I only needed to offer a little help in the proper ways of wrapping things {so they actually look nice ;)} 

Our basket is sitting waiting for us to unwrap a book each night in December. A collection of religious, christmas tree, Grinch, Santasaurus, Pop ups, Carols, Babushka, Santa. We've got most genre's covered.

Sometimes I think I love this just as much, if not more than the kids.

scrummy christmas books make my heart pitter patter.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Family Christmas Party


We had a fun family christmas dinner on the weekend.

My pinata was so tough it had to be ripped open by daddy's strong hands ;)

So if you intend to make similar - use masking tape or something that will rip a little easier instead of plastic tape and use less than I did. Tape overload = strong pinata! (secretly I like 'em strong. Gives each kid several goes at whacking the thing and takes up lots of time! but you do want them to break eventually.)
the latest in fashion - fringed candy cane boots!


The other super fun thing we did was play christmas movies on a big screen! We borrowed a friends projector and played movies on a white tablecloth! I loved it and wish I had been curled up there with the kids watching movies. Next time I will! And now I've thought about it - it would have been super cute to do a family slideshow of the best photos of the year! You could get each family in the extended family to bring some photos to show! How fun! We actually did that last year during our Grandparents Christmas Dinner and the kids loved it. We just did it on our tv though, but the kids spent 40 mins watching and going 'remember when we did that, remember that' they went on and on ... The christmas movies were a great idea as our yard is fairly small and there isnt much to do for big groups of kids.



***

See my post for this week over at Faith Matters its about gratitude and thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Second Engagement Anniversary


The day has arrived for our annual picnic dinner at the place Daddy Proposed to Mummy!

I think it's a nice thing to celebrate this cute little anniversary with kids.

The funny part of the engagement story is The Mr actually had the engagement ring in the glovebox.

We got out of the car on a supposed date night (I didn't know he was proposing)

He realised his mistake and thought, oh well just go with it,

He said 'look in the glovebox' there's something there for you

Ring was my first thought, but since The Mr is such a joker I thought he was having me on.


With wobbling hands and a beating heart I opened that glovebox.
I was almost scared of what was gonna jump out of there!

I gasped and saw a box and gingerly held it in my hands.

We walked over to the rotunda and he got down on one knee and opened the box and said
'Will you marry me'

and that is the tale of our second proposal.

A today we kissed on the same spot 13 years later. Surrounded by our little blessings.

see what I have to work with to get a photo of us... told you he jokes around.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Christmas Pillowcases

Love this fabric Miss A chose.



my true love gave to me - Christmas Pillowcases for dreaming.




This is about the fourth year we've made Christmas Pillowcases.

It is a very much beloved tradition. The children reminded me this week:

WHEN are we going to buy Christmas fabric to make pillowcases?!


I would love to find a store that sells cheap Christmas fabric because spotlight is getting expensive. Some of the fabrics are $16.95 a metre! (usually the nice ones!) yikes!

However it was worth the cost (I usually nudge them towards the cheaper material ;)
when one night this week was such a peaceful time.


Instructions here

One at a time the came to me and helped me sew up their pillowcase while the others wrote out christmas cards. Such a lovely way to spend an evening. (I wish everynight could be like that)

And each went to bed so happy with their new pillow upon which to dream beautiful christmas dreams

(as I tell them each night - that is what the pillow is for - sweet Christmas Dreams)




mmm lovely Pillows: Birds, Gingerbread Man and Silver trees.


Now, I'm starting to amass quite a collection of pillowcases.
I was tempted to recycle some of them and use the fabric for other things.

BUT thanks to Soulemama I've come upon the perfect solution!

Using them to wrap gifts!  See her gorgeous ones here

So this year we'll have most of our presents wrapped in fabric with a bow.

Over the years I'm sure I'll have enough to wrap all the kids presents this way!

Hopefully it'll look warm and homely, save some trees and save landfill!


Here's to gorgeous Christmas fabric and sweet dreams for little ones!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Candy Cane Pinata


my true love gave to me - A pinata for a Christmas Party



We make a lot of pinata's around here. It's almost not a party if there isn't a pinata. We do 'em for birthdays, Easter, Christmas. Anytime is a good time for a pinata!

Most are of the basic (not beautiful type)

Lately I've been getting a lot of pinata inspiration over at O Happy Day see:  here here here

I thought I would attempt their fairly easy style of making Pinata's
(well I assume its easier and quicker than the layers of paper mache style we usually do)

A candy cane shape sounded easy to achieve. Perhaps a tree wouldn't be too hard either.



::Cut two large candy cane shapes from a cardboard box
::Using a long rectangle piece join the candy cane shapes

::Use tape generously around edges and to stick it all together.

::Fringe strips of red and white crepe paper and glue in lines like a candy cane

:: Fill with Lollies, confetti, balloons, treats of  any kind.


Have fun!




(side note - I just can't look at Santa pinata's after attending a womens (no children) Christmas party where grown women fought over and smashed up a Santa Pinata. It felt so feral - which is why I always try to stick to non human/animal shapes when making pinatas and attempt to keep kids not too crazy.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Come find me..


I'm over here today, posting on Faith Matters blog.

This is the start of what will be weekly contributions over there.

It's part of my new calling at church for Public Affairs. Can you believe they asked me to blog?!

Come join the discussion or leave a comment here

How do you have a Christ Centre Christmas?
What ideas do you incorporate  to make the season more thoughtful?
What gives you comfort and inspiration to keep Christmas celebrations in the right frame?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Add a decoration Advent Calendar


My true love gave to me an Advent Calendar for counting down.


I swear it's straight, not sure why this photo is so wonky..


So the previous mentioned advent calendar was a total spur of the moment, I can make this thing, even though it wasn't the plan for this year!


I had other advent plans for this year!

The last two years we've done activity based advents - as in an activity to do as a family each day - eg watch christmas movie, put up tree, deliver cookies, look at christmas lights etc

Sometimes though, we might forget to do it, or we are so busy - it's all a little too much.

So this year I wanted to go simple and without lollies -
(HA! to that since I now have a 12 day advent full of lollies)


I had decided on a wall hanging with little decorations to add each day.

I got this pattern from my mother in law and thought it would be perfect.

A pretty quilted Christmas Tree.

I am very happy with the finished product. Thanks to MIL for the fabric and thanks to friend Amanda for talking me through the instructions - I can sew but I can't read patterns ;)

However, if you can't quilt you could totally just cut out some felt in a tree shape for the same effect.

After finishing the quilt wall hanging I then sewed on some beads at intervals on the tree.
These will be used to hang the decorations from.



silver charms from spotlight

The only down side is my decorations are kinda small and the beads small too.
It is a tad fiddly for younger children.

Looks like this advent is for my older children only.

Bigger decorations/felt shapes would be better for small children.
Use velcro to stick decorations - if your tree is felt they would stick easily.
Or just attached safety pins to the decorations and pin one on each day to count down till christmas

and you have a lolly free advent!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Advent Calendar



It's no secret I love advent calendars.   see  here  here  here
I'm still looking for the perfect paper one with pretty elegant pictures behind the flaps.
We usually have a couple on the go each year.


The last few years we have been making ones that get thrown out at the end of the season.

It's fun to try a different type each year.
The crafty Crow is my go to inspiration. Hundreds of homemade advents to be found there!

I was pretty excited when I saw this one at Crafting Coconut

I knew I had all the things needed to make it.

And it was the perfect size to fit FOUR treats in each day.
Some of those pockets are just too tiny in some advents.

Sometimes we lose interest in our advent (the one with scriptures or activity ideas in) so this year I decided we would trial a

12 days of Christmas Advent.

This way I think our attention span will hold, we shall begin it just after school lets out, the kids won't have 24 days of lollies to begin their mornings (crazy kids oh my!) and for those who forget until the first of December to make one - this idea gives you till the 13th of December to have it done! Perfect solution.

We are actually having 2 advents this year. I'm super excited about a quilted one I've made too.
It turned out pretty good.


Here are the Instructions on how to make Bon Bon Advent:

Take 12 (or 24) toilet rolls.
(I spray mine with  Glen 20 for peace of mind, but I've noticed that Riot Art and Craft store sells cardboard rolls for those of you who might be yicked out by using toilet rolls in craft)

Cover each roll in Christmas colours scrapbooking paper.
I used rectangles of 13cm x15 cms. I used sticky tape to keep the paper attached.



Tuck the ends of the paper into the tube.

Join two tubes together by putting tape inside each tube and over to the other. Repeat on both ends. If your worried about it being heavy when filled with treats perhaps use hot glue gun to keep rolls together also.

Keep going until all 12 are joined together.

Attach numbers on each roll.

Take your treats and wrap in a bon bon/candy wrapper way. I used white kitchen baking paper. Secure with string.

Slide one into each of the 12 tubes.




Enjoy!


We are going to start with number 12 on the first day (13th of December), so that way we know exactly how many days are left to Christmas!

I filled mine with plastic animals, little santa shaped chocolates, Gold coin chocolates, small lipglosses, candy canes, and some little Squinky toys in those plastic balls (that I stole out of their christmas gifts ;) they'll never notice a few missing ones!


It's only 15 days till the 1st of December. Time to get cracking!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lucky 13

One of our engagement party photos


It's the 13th anniversary of our proposal.

I don't think we really remembered or celebrated it in any way the first few years of marriage but over the years we've started to give a slight nod to the importance of the day. It helps that it's Remembrance day. Remember to remember :)

This morning I said

Happy Proposal Day Anniversary darling

to which the Mr replied:

ahh If only I knew what those small words would turn into.

He talked about cause and effect and how he could never fortell from those words what was to come.

We sat at the breakfast table with our children around and he said

Look at what has become of us. Look what those words have blossomed into to.

My heart melted.

all day I've been pondering on, our words - as things that grow. Its reminded me to watch my words, chose carefully and purposefully that my words grow and blossom into positive things. Many a word can produce a negative bloom.


We actually celebrate two proposal days.

The one where The Mr could just no longer contain his feelings for me and the words just splurted right out

Will you marry me?

and In two weeks we'll visit the place he 'formally proposed' ring and all.

This week I joked, do you think the new owners/occupiers of your old house would mind if we knocked on their door and said

Hi, My husband proposed to me in this house 13 years ago, in that room over there, do you mind if we come in and reminisce??

We laughed at how shocked those people would be and think we were kinda weird...

So until 2 weeks, were we can celebrate and reminisce in a public place....

Because strangers probably don't take too kindly to random people wanting to come in and take over their bedroom.


Where did you get engaged?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dueling Christmas

I love preparing for and looking at christmas stuff more than I actually enjoy Christmas Day I think!



Sometimes it's hard to live in the Southern Hemisphere.


An american guy at church who is organising the choir asked me if Australians would find it offensive if there were carols sang that mentioned snow/cold etc.


I said 'Heck no! We need cool thoughts at that time of year as it sooo HOT!


Christmas in a hot climate is kinda weird. It's boiling hot and you've got songs of snow and snow card/decorations/paraphernalia everywhere. Movies showing snug families in matching flannel PJ's sipping warm drinks. As much as I think I live in one of the best places/climate in the world.... it does make jealous with want!


My five year old loves snow and talks about it on an almost daily basis


She asks when will it snow where we live?


Remember last years Family Christmas Movie Card   motivated by her?




I love Christmas and the many many traditions we have surrounding it.


I long to add even more traditions.


My problem is my house is very very very hot.


My motivation quickly diminshes.


Chocolate melts, we sweat,


warm fuzzy time in the house is hard to come by. oh it is certainly WARM though!



IT makes me sad.


I'm seriously thinking of purchasing an airconditioner just to blast ALL December so we can:


bake lots of cookies

sit around with blankets and be able to drink warm drinks made with cinnamon or chocolate

Have candles everywhere without having them make us feel more hot

To sit  and craft and read books in close quarters with eachother everynight

So the kids will be able to actually wear the PJ's I purchase for every Christmas Eve instead of getting around in underwear

So my photos of us decorating the Christmas Tree won't show hot red faced sweaty people with their hair plasted down




Then I might be able to have both - the dual Christmases that exist in warm climates.



Growing up to us Christmas represented


Swimming and receiving beach/swim related stuff
Mangoes
Icecream
Cold Chicken and Ham and Salad meals
Beach
Holidays
Long days and summer nights outside
Barbeques
Going for walks looking at christmas lights
outdoor parties
End of school year and freedom of holidays


I'm happy our Christmas isnt fraught with
travel worries (no snow/sleet/)
no sickness/colds/flu's/stomachbugs (too hot the germs are all killed)
and no close quarters if we dont want (no getting snowed in here)





 I LOVE all those things about an Australian Christmas.


But I'm selfish and I also want the other Christmas that is paraded all around us.


Like a subtle creeping in, that causes some sort of slight depression because things just aren't the same.


So if I don't get that airconditioner or insulation I need I shall just have to embrace other christmas traditions.


Cool drinks, sitting around in underwear, children staying up late, walks in the cool of the eve'n.


Everything else left undone. It's just too hot to move.





Sounds alright to me. And while I sleep, I'll dream of my other Christmas.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Foody Friday - Kids version

The older girls have been cooking dinner twice a week for a few weeks now.
Though I do see the novelty wearing off a little once again
(I gotta keep on top of those girls I tell ya! why is it such hard work?)

I'm still on the lookout for easy to prepare, 3 or 4 steps only, recipes  - know any?

These are recipes I make myself, but they were on the simple enough side that my 8 and 10 year olds could make them with only a little help from me. I thought we could bring back the old 'Foody Friday' but with the things the kids are cooking... Kids Foody Friday.... So we are going to start off with our new favourite recipe. A secret recipe given us by a friend. We've made this atleast four or more times this month. Everyone in the family loves it, and always asks for more and they fight to lick the pan!

made by Miss A

Ritzy Chicken

2 cups Ritz cracker crumbs (I just crushed one sleeve)
2 tsp Garlic powder
8 chicken breasts (I only use 3 breasts and slice them in half to get 6 pieces)
3 TBL Parmesan cheese
1 tsp Seasoned salt
250 ml container natural yogurt
1/4 cup butter, melted
Soak chicken breasts in yogurt for a few hours.  Smash Ritz to make crumbs. Mix crumbs, cheese and seasonings. Coat yogurt covered breasts with crumb mixture. Place on foil-lined 9X13 pan. Drizzle 1/4 cup butter or margarine over breasts. Bake at for 25 mins in moderate oven.

We made this recipe with JUST the Chicken, Ritz and Yoghurt and it tasted sooo good. I can't believe how good these two ingredients taste together. Easy recipe for kids to do. Take chicken, coat in crumbs, place on a foil lined tray, pop into oven. Voila.

On a side note, its funny to find out what kids think they can't manage. K made this Pioneer Woman - Sour Cream Noodle Bake dish almost with no help until her pasta started to bubble and boil over a bit, she got all flustered and came looking for me saying ' ahhhhhh .....what do I do!?!?' So funny because I thought it would be obvious to move it or if you are worried about burns/fires etc to just turn off the stove. reminded me about what really needs teaching!



Miss A had a friend over when it was her turn to cook one of the times and the friend thought it absolutely wonderful that they got to cook the dinner and couldn't believe that I expected them to make our whole dinner. Wish my girls were as excited ;) Note to self. Invite excited friends over and then your kid suddenly gets a whole lot more excited about it...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Purple blooms








There are easily about 50 Jacaranda trees in the few blocks surrounding my house.

I LOVE THEM and always want to take family photos under them. Alas most are on a busy main road, near alot of signs (visual pollution!) or in private yards. this makes it hard to photograph them.

Also the season is very short. the trees only bloom for 6-8 weeks. Each time I ask the girls to do a photo shoot they say ' another day mum, we want to do.....'

and then I say but they won't be around much longer!!.

Well last week I convinced them on a Saturday afternoon that we WOULD go today!

Except my camera is pretty crappy and most of the shots didn't work out, don't you hate that when you look closer at your photos on the computer later, you find at least one child isnt looking at the camera, has their fingers in their nose, someone is crying or pouting, lots of the back of our toddler running in the opposite direction, or in the efforts to get toddler looking at the camera the older sisters trying to ensure that it is happening are now the ones not looking right

and I havent even started on the Christmas Card photo yet (oh help me!)
 (well actually we have, but we haven't found the winner yet..)


As the Jacaranda blooms fall silently to the ground giving us purple carpet everywhere under our feet we will remember them till next year xx

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