Friday, November 28, 2014

A Peek At Our Advent Plans

Well here we are, about to step into Advent, a joyous and blessed time.

 As always, in our home we want Jesus Christ to be our center, our focus. It can be difficult in a world that is so focused on lights, tinsel, Christmas songs, movies etc.

 So although we love that side of it too, first and foremost this celebration is about Jesus. To keep our hearts true I like to take some time to plan out an Advent program that we can easily incorporate into our daily living. 

I created a file for this years plans and spent a bit of time browsing the net for some easy ideas to do. Inside I have an Advent reading plan - God's Word keeping us centered.

I have printed off various activity ideas for us, hopefully we will get to do something special each day. We will kick off our Advent by making our Advent wreath together tomorrow - something we do every year. The Advent candles have arrived in good time so we are good to go on that activity.

Our church has it's Christingle service on Sunday - a beautiful tradition that I love observing within our Anglican faith. We will make our own Christingles and place them on the windowsill in the conservatory for all to see as the winter darkness draws in. I found this lovely little explanation video for those who have not heard of the Christingle before - this is an easy activity that you can do within your own home if your church does not do it.

* Throughout Advent we will read new books together during our Read Aloud time. Some books in our book basket (we have not read any of these so I cannot recommend them yet - but I'll keep you posted):

- Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R Tolkien

* Of course the girls have their Advent calendars up on their bedroom walls, ready for the first door to be pried open on Monday. I have also purchased a Jaquie Lawon 'Christmas Market' interactive advent calendar - just for fun :)

* We will bake gingerbread and Christmas mince pies all through December - it never lasts long in our home so I find that I am baking up a new batch every 3 days or so.

* We will make a gingerbread house - perhaps we will try and be a bit more adventurous and create a little church too - perhaps a replica of our own beautiful church. We have a great gingerbread recipe so as long as we have that sorted we can go wild with our designs :)

* We will decorate our tree around the middle of December - I like to leave it a bit, if we decorate too early I find I want to rip it all down in the week between Christmas and New Year. Traditionally it all comes down at Epiphany or twelfth night, so the later we leave the dressing of the tree the better.

* We will sing wonderful Christmas Hymns together every day

* We will go and see the panto - even though my girls are in their teens they love the panto!

* This year we are going to see the Paddington movie - my youngest LOVES this little furry bear so it's a 'must do' as far as she is concerned.

* We'll make pomanders - they give a lovely spicy Christmassy smell

* We'll write out our Christmas cards and mail them off

* We will make some old fashioned English toffee (recipe at the end of the post) as we remember that the first Christmas Card was invented by an Englishman ;)

* We will go to our churches Christmas Carol Service

* We will attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve

* We will put out our Christmas Nativity early on - Baby Jesus will only be added on Christmas morning and the wise men will start on the far side of the living room, only reaching the nativity scene on Epiphany.

So there we have it - a brief peek into my plans for a blessed Advent :)
As promised - the recipe for Old Fashioned English Toffee

Old Fashioned English Toffee

1 cup (250 ml) butter
1 and 1/3 cup of sugar (333 ml)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) light corn syrup (For UK readers this is Karo light corn syrup avail. Tesco)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
1 lb (453 grams) dark chocolate
1 lb (453 grams) ground peacan nuts

Melt the butter and sugar together. Add the corn syrup and water. Boil over a high heat to 300 deg F or 148 deg C (use a candy thermometer). Pour onto a greased cookie sheet and leave to harden and cool. Break into pieces and dip into melted chocolate and crushed peacans.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Autumn and Advent Thoughts

Late autumn already! It amazes me how the seasons change so quickly. Temperatures are finally getting cooler here in England after a rather 'mild' autumn. I'm glad about that - I was beginning to worry that we would have another ultra-mild winter. I like the seasons to embrace all their unique qualities so therefore winter needs to be cold and late autumn should be hinting in that direction :) 

The garden is looking rather unkempt at the moment, and inevitable thing for this time of year I think. Leaves keep falling and the beds are all bare compared to their summer glory. But with the leaves on the trees thinning I am able to see the birds allot more. I have hung up all manner of fat-balls and cakes for them to eat and they reward me with their winged loveliness throughout the day.

The hedge is now in it's full autumn glory. It's russets and yellows are so pretty, but soon it will be cloaked in it's brown winter coat. I'm glad that this hedge keeps it's brown leaves on in the winter, it keeps our garden a little more private than if it dropped all it's leaves.

My mind is beginning to turn to Advent-y things, it's not long now until the start of Advent, just over a week to go! The candles for my advent wreath have arrived and are safely tucked away, I have the girls Advent calendars already and I am collecting bits and pieces to make my own little family Advent calendar which I will fill with little treats and activities to do together over the season.

My plans are all sort of floating about my head at the moment, what I need to do is to sit down and put pen to paper and make sure I have all the things I want to do in order to make the celebration of Advent and Christmas special and meaningful. {I do so love putting plans on paper :)} We have quite a few wonderful activities to participate in within our church so our Advent season is looking exciting - I'll be sure to share our plans soon.
In the more immediate future, this Sunday is Stir Up Sunday! Already! I've been debating over whether or not to make our own Christmas pudding this year. DH and I LOVE Christmas pudding, but we are alone in that love in our home. So I'm thinking that although I love the thought of marking this day with this traditional family activity, I might just buy a small pudding for our Christmas dinner. Seems like allot of work to go to making one if only two of us are going to eat it!

Do you make your Christmas pudding on Stir Up Sunday? Do you have a favourite recipe that you use? I would love to hear some of your traditions if you have time to share :)

Have a lovely Thursday all...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Late Autumn Yarn Along

Oh it is a heartbreaking task to have to frog something that you are just about done with! That's exactly what I had to do yesterday.

I am busy with some Christmas gifts at the moment, one of them being a lovely warm hat with a cabled pattern. With only about a third left to do I realised that I had gone horribly wrong. It's my own fault, I read the pattern but did not quite understand what they were saying so winged it a bit. After two afternoons of knitting I realised that my had did not look like the one in the picture. So after going through a couple of other people's Antler Hats on Ravelry I managed to work out the mistake. 

Working out where I went wrong is a good thing, however it meant that I had to frog right the way back to the ribbing! Arrrrgggg! :(

Anyhoo, I am once again making good progress and will have it ready plenty of time to spare.

Reading: I am still busy with my Amelia Peabody murder mystery but making slow progress. I'm just not getting much reading time at the moment, so I took out a book to flip through from the library yesterday on Fair Isle knitting - Fair Isle Style by Jane Mucklestone. I have limited experience with Fair Isle but do so admire it and really want to learn how to knit Fair Isle really well! There are a couple of lovely small projects to get stuck into so once I have finished my Antler had I will choose a project to knit for the next person on my Christmas list ;)

Joining Ginny today for Yarn Along

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tea At Eleven?

Monday is just about over and I completely forgot to let you know that today I am over at Treasured Up and Pondered chatting about 'Tea'. So if you want to see what I have to say please do pop on over and have a look :)