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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Black Hole Week

Just cause he is funny


I'm in that hole again.

I mentioned last year here


I'm beginning to think holidays are a bad thing for me.

House is messier
Dinner is not as well prepared (or very last minute or take out or nothing)
I am tired and lethargic
I feel like everyday is Saturday (which explains all of the above)
I don't go to the shops and feel in my head that the shops are closed like its a public holiday everyday


It's funny how when the Mr is actually home and on holidays it seems harder to get out of the house when it should be easier with extra hands to help. We seem to spend less time together {not true but it seems it}  but when he we are busy we seem to make the small moments we are together count for more, discuss more and achieve more.

It's kinda like that saying 'If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it'

While I love holidays I really don't like this feeling at all. Its nice to slow down and all but it seems everything slows down to the point of it creating more pain. I know I should just embrace it. I promise I'm working on it. I just find it funny that the last two years I have noticed it.

I've notice the loss of routine!

The one thing we would all like to leave behind and now I'm missing it??? The problem is I just don't understand it. Maybe the body and mind protest and make sure I have a rest for the last week of the year.  I'm here, I have another helping hand, we don't have anything scheduled so WHY are we out of routine and not organised?

It's even worse when this week between the Christmas and the New year becomes a black hole, because I should be organising awesome things for our birthdays. Every  New Year and our birthdays I seem to be caught unawares {which is why we nearly always have to use our wedding anniversary as catch up for romantic escapes or fancy dinners out}

So rather than get angry at the mess, lack of nutrious meals, lack of organisation, lack of anything productive....  I shall just embrace it

I embrace you - black hole week.

I will allow a week to be stolen from my life with nothing to show for it.

There's always a another year to work on myself coming up.

The new year is sure to sneak up on me anytime soon.


Make that 3 days  too soon

wherein I will be so busy that I will be wishing for black hole week

only 360 more days to wait till it comes back around again!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Photos

Are you over Christmas posts yet? I almost am!
But I couldn't resist a photo heavy post with some more photos from our Christmas Season.
Hope you are all enjoying what I've dubbed Black Hole Week.










Hope you had a joyous Christmas

I'm looking forward to the New Year now!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Pyjamas



My true love gave to me.... Christmas Eve Jammies



Each year for Christmas Eve the girls get new Pyjama's.

This year I decided I wanted some white cotton victorian inspired nightgowns.

all vintage and victorian, girls running around the house ghost like {swoon}

I searched high and low and did not find any I liked in a price range I like.

I've very sure that $55 is a great price to pay for handmade nightgowns but times by 4 and I think not.

So I decided to make my own.

Or should I say I decided that my mother in law would help me make my own

cause it can't be that hard right?

Turns out its not! Fairly easy if you go for a peasant style dress. Three pieces!
 I even learnt how to do simple sleeves. I was pretty impressed with myself.

Pretty sure I might have said 'thanks for teaching me mum. Now I know that when the world ends and there are no shops available I'll be able to fashion peasant dresses for us all out of hessian bags...."


Thanks to mum in law for teaching me and overlocking them for me!


I hope the girls love them, but if not I see many opportunities for dress up ideas from these.

An angel?
Olden days?
Choir?
Middle Ages?


Merry Christmas and Sweet dreams!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Movie Card

video





my true love gave to me... A Family Home Movie..


The last five (?) years we've been making a little Christmas Family Movie.

A sort of Christmas card for our friends and family.


So Merry Christmas from Me to YOU

YES YOU!

Thank you for reading this whole year!

I'm Looking forward to sharing more with you next year.

Thanks for the love and comments.

I really do love and appreciate you all and the happiness you bring to my life.


Have a great Christmas and Holidays.



If you're interested... we made this movie by taking LOTS (a few hundred?) of photos while putting up our tree. We (me, the mr and my sister) took turns sitting in the same spot taking multiple pictures while everyone worked around us. I wasn't even watching the phone, I just kept my finger on the button :) 

The Mr has the skills to put all the photos into Windows Movie Maker, adjust the speed (so it becomes sort of like stop animation) and put music over the top. He insists it is very easy. I'm sure it is, but I just take the photo's or shoot the film. He's the Editor :)


Other Movies

2008

2010

I can't believe I didn't upload the other ones. (probably because they weren't that good  or I didn't know how to add video back then :) I just looked through all my archives and didn't find the rudolf and wise men ones. You'll just have to believe me.


Here's to wonderful Christmas movies and memories! I notice from this film that there was an awful lot of running around and back and forth while we put up our tree. And the music over it is a must so you don't hear all the directing, squabbling and talking (from the girls of course)

 We are one loud family.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Grandparents Christmas Dinner




My true love gave to me.... a fancy dinner party...



Our long awaited Christmas Dinner has arrived.

I've been thinking about possible menu ideas for a while now.

And nudging the Mr to decided upon something as he is the one that cooks all the mains.

On the Monday Night Before Christmas we hold our annual Grandparents Christmas Dinner.

So today the

House Cleaned
Food purchased
Spent half the day cooking
Spent the other half making decorations

Now we just await the special guests.

We like to thank our parents for their love and help all year. We love to let our kids have both sets of Grandparents to themselves (though one kid did ask... Are their ANY kids coming to our party?? lol) We love the opportunity to have a formal dinner and get out the crystal glasses. I love to try and decorate and do place settings. It only seems to happen once a year!


I believe we've been doing this tradition for about 8 years. And it just keeps getting better.

I love any tradition where my husband cooks a wonderful meal for me xx
This was his first time doing a baked ham and it was wonderful!


This years menu:

Entree: Creamy Parsnip Soup  (recipe here)

Main: Pineapple and Ginger Glazed Ham with Mango and Lime Mayo ( Recipe here ) Turkey, Asparagus and Beans with Cranberry's and Cashews ( recipe here) , Roast carrot, potato, Pumpkin. Home made tomato chutney ( recipe here)

Dessert: Chocolate Ripple Cake - Buche de Noel. ( recipe here )

Drinks: Sparkling Pear and Sparkling Apple and Liggonberry (from Ikea)



I filled the space above the table with these stars .
Very easy and quick to make! watch out they are addictive!
I plan to decorate the girls room with them when we are done with Christmas.


and yes I did match my outfit to my table decor....

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sleeping Under the Tree



my true love gave to me... sleeping under the tree.



The kids have done this tradition for years. But The Mr and I have only joined them for the last two. {we were usually tucked away in the only room with aircon- while they sweated it out}

I am still loving this cool weather. Last night we were able to drag all our bedding out to the lounge room and snuggle up together to watch a movie and sleep under the tree!

We even had hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream.

and friends dropped randomly by with a plate of treats!!

It's kinda fun to have a sleepout together. We don't do it often at all.


Obviously because Miss G thought it so funny she said

"I've NEVER seen your bed NAKED!"

(ie shes never seen our matress off the base and she thought our room looked weird)

After a sleep by the glow of the lights on the tree we woke to pancakes by Daddy.

Love traditions like these.



{I always feel obligated to not portray a perfect life on my blog ~ I feel sad when I read perfect mcperfect blogs and think how come my lifes not like that?? So I'll share with you that our kids jumped around {from the tv cabinet onto all mattresses} ALOT, were crazy, someone spilled their entire cup of hot chocolate everywhere, fights, and even someone wet the bed as soon as they fell asleep! gah!}


But that's what Christmas is all about right?  Family fights togetherness :)


But when they were all asleep and the twinkle lights all aglow.
My heart could barely contain itself.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yule Log


One Christmas craft I want to do each year but never do is make a Yule Log.

I also love all the blog posts where people are out in the woods collecting evergreeens and berries and making wreaths and swags and living decorations around the house.

It may be summer and it may be the Southern hemisphere but I decided we would do it too.

We set off on a walk with a bag and some scissors.

Even though we live in kinda inner city, it's a very established area and has more trees, bushes, gumnuts and bits and bobs than many housing estates do.  We have lovely neighbours who don't mind us trimming their plants. Walks further afield we only trim from very overgrown trees and shrubs that hang over to the footpath. We collected a big bag in no time.

We bought it home and laid it out on the table and began to tie our clippings together.

We secured it with string.

And voila you have some festive real decorations.



Mine are still fine four days later.  However in this heat I don't expect them to live long.

A nice walk each week collecting clippings should keep us covered.

A lovely Christmas tradition that I hope may continue.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gingerbread Houses




My true love gave to me.... gingerbread houses for school parties.


This tradition started four or more years ago when I spent all day making a gingerbread house. At the end of the day I physically felt sick from all the sugar and could not even face looking at the thing! I decided my only child at school, should take it along and share it with the class to get rid of it!

And here I am still making them. This morning they took them to school for their break up party. All the kids were ooohhh and ahhhing so I secretly think my girls enjoy that ;)

To have everything ready for gingerbread houses {and other holiday baking} I start buying a few items each week from October onwards. Things like different lollies, bags of pure icing sugar, condensed milk, choc chips, cooking butter, gingerbread house kits etc all start appearing in my trolley and I hide bags of cooking ingredients all over the house :)

I felt a little bad that I don't really let the kids help. I find making gingerbread houses quite hard. It takes a lot of concentration from me and I can't have the distraction from the kids {the little ones watched a movie} So to make up for it, we are going to make another one on Monday night and let the kids go for it. I would love to be organised enough to make individual houses for them all to decorate. One day!!

I have a low attention span so I make my gingerbread houses in stages. Otherwise it takes all day and I.AM.OVER.IT! An hour or two here and there seems so much more manageable to me. I also don't include the kids in the first few steps as they don't have the patience and are otherwise all up in my business asking 'when will it be ready' because really, sticking the lollies on is all they care about {and eating it}

My steps are:

If I am baking the gingerbread {I didnt this year - These were kits from Coles and Woolworths} I make the dough and roll it out between baking paper. Draw the house shapes on the paper and cut the shapes out. Freeze the dough and you are done for the day.

Cook dough and let cool. Making a big batch of Royal Icing ( I do two egg whites, 2 tsp lemon juice, One 500g bag of pure icing sugar -I used three batches to make these houses) stick house together and hold with some string. {Allow to set so it is nice and strong - I put a fan blowing on mine this year to help it set} I then cover it all up and leave it for the night.

Next day I decorate the house. This is the step children can be added to.


Enjoy looking at your gingerbread house, or if you're like me, send the thing far away where crazy children will devour it in minutes flat {one year the teacher commented the kids were like ants. There wasnt a bit left of the thing, even the icing all over the plate was gone}

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Tree, The Tree is UP!



I got my WISH!

There has been a week long cold snap here in super hot Australia.
Cool breezy weather that's had us scrambling to find blankets again!

This made it perfect weather for lighting candles, sitting and reading and for putting up our tree!

I even made warm spiced Apple Cider to sip!
(it is usually way too hot to even contemplate such a thing!)

My christmas spirit has been in full force!


Yesterday evening I painted my nails red (instant lift!) chose what the kids were gonna wear (yay! a year where not a single person was decorating the tree in their underwear!) and set up to make our yearly Christmas Card Movie (I'm excited it's looking awesome! - speaking of - remember last years Movie? Well shredded paper jumped out of the tree box when we unpacked our tree! Its everywhere again!  I swear that stuff is haunting me!!)

We put our tree up on the first Monday in December. It seemed a long way away, but it does arrive quickly and I was wondering if I was ready. Knowing what day it would be greatly helped the girls. They didn't hound me at all the last month. I could just hear contstant whispers of 'The tree goes up in a week" or in ___ days the tree will be up! Can't wait till Monday 5th..'

Now for school to hurry up and finish so we can sit and relax by our tree.

I love evenings by Tree Lights!!

Grandma's Tree




my true love gave to me .... decorating Grandparents Tree

The last three or so years we have been putting up the Grandparents Tree.

Its so sweet.

On Sunday we had some treats to eat and 'helped' grandma put up her tree.



I think this is like when grandma's ask kids to hold their hands to cross the road (help your old grandma to cross the road - my grandma used to say this to me and I really thought her old! and she wasn't at all!) My parents are young and certainly don't need any help putting up their tree but its nice for the kids to think they are being helpful and generous (when it probably makes more work for Grandma and Grandad!)

Thanks for letting us share the christmas spirit.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Nativity Induced Laughter and Nativity Induced OCD




my true love gave to me..... A Nativity Set for playing/displaying



Have I told you how much I love Nativity sets? {um yes... only a million times!} Last year I decided December 1st would be our Nativity Day. We set our tree up on the first monday night in December so this gives us something to do while waiting and I like that it has become our first focus for the season. Nativity Sets out first to remind us what we really should be thinking about.


They are one of my favourite things about Christmas and I love to see my kids play with them.


The figurines from Nativity sets are some of the most played with things at our house during Christmas. I would totally leave them out all year, if I didn't think the novelty would wear off and that it would degrade part of the joy of Christmas.

That's the fun part of boxing stuff away and getting it out once a year. ~ Just opening the boxes I got out of the roof yesterday was like a christmas in itself for the girls.


Most of my nativities are under $10 or $20 {so it's ok if they happen to break - It has happened once} The Fisher Price kids one was the most expensive. Not many stores sell Nativity so when they do I like to thank them and sometimes purchase one. The little ones make great gifts for Visiting Teaching or for other people who would appreciate it.


I think I giggle nearly everyday during December because of Nativity Induced Laughter.

I find little groupings of wisemen and shepherds seemingly deep in conversation

I find Camels on the roof of nativities where the star or angel should be

I find baby Jesus tucked away in quiet spots

I have to stop children from bringing figurines in handbags where ever we go

I've had the wisemen with signs stuck on them

I swear it sometimes seems those figurines are alive {when I'm not looking} they are always on the move, always conspiring in different corners of my home.


It's so fun.

Except for my Nativity Set Induced OCD { where I cannot rest or go to bed unless I know all nativity pieces are in their correct spots!} These means sometimes alot of searching for moved/lost pieces. However for the most part I love having several sets around the house for my kids to play with.

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!

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