Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Merry Mail

Christmas Cards 1

Christmas Cards 3

Christmas Cards 2

Christmas Cards 5

I'm not sure why, but Christmas cards have always been one of the hardest things on my holiday list to actually complete on time.  I buy them early (sometimes even the year before) and I even write them out early most years, but they still never seem to make it to the post office on time.  This year I was determined to break that cycle and actually get cards in the mail in a somewhat timely manner.  I bought the stamps early, pulled out the cards and took over the table with Christmas cards in an effort to get them finished and out the door.  

Getting the kids involved really helped.  We all sat down and worked on our cards together while listening to our favorite Christmas music.  The girls also had some ornaments to work on that I found here.  We didn't laminate ours, simply printed them out on cardstock.  The girls handed them out at a Christmas program this week and they were a big hit.  

I love when something so small can brighten someone's day just a bit.  I think that's why I love Christmas cards so much.  It's so nice to open the mailbox and find something fun and festive this time of year.  We decorated our envelopes with stickers we picked up at the local craft store and I think it made a big difference.  Wouldn't you love to open your mailbox and find something like this peeking out at you?  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Parade

Not only has there been a lot of crafting going on, there have been a lot of Christmas activities attended as well.  Parades, parties, programs, the list goes on and on.  I don't think we've ever been involved in this many seasonal themed events ever before.  The season started with the local small town's Christmas parade. I always look forward to these parades, there is just something so sweet and fun about them.

The girls rode in a float for the dance studio, and since the theme was "The Night Before Christmas" all the kids went in their jammies!  The girls were so excited to get to go to town in their footie jammies and looked forward to it all week.

Christmas Parade 9

Christmas Parade 1

Christmas Parade 5

Christmas Parade 4

Christmas Parade 6

Christmas Parade 2

Thankfully though, they haven't wanted to wear their jammies to town many more times.  Ahem.  I may have taken Kaitlyn out one day in hers because it was easier than explaining "proper clothing".  Again. But she did have boots on at least.  Picking my battles with this one.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A hat for Kinsley

There has been a whole lot of elving going on around our house lately.  Some more secret than others.  I love the little craft areas that are popping up in various corners, whispers, and cries of "don't look in this box!" that are going on right now.  I love seeing the enthusiasm they have over new projects and finding just the right colors to make a special gift for someone they love.

I hope that they continue to love to give (and receive) handmades for the rest of their days.  I know that I'm soaking up these days of them still thinking it's awesome when mama makes something new for them.  While these things are still their favorites I can't resist making just one more of their requests, like this new pink hat that Kinsley desperately needed.   Nevermind the fact that we have a basket full of various hats, headbands, and earwarmers that have been made for them over the years.  Surely we always are in need of just one more.

Cherub Beanie 3 - Copy

Cherub Beanie 2 - Copy

Cherub Beanie 1 - Copy

She picked the Cherub Cheeks Beanie pattern on Ravelry and a beautiful pink wool from my stash for her hat.  And she added a white button because everything is better with a pretty button on it. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Advent Week Two: Plants

The second light of Advent
is the light of plants,
Plants that reach up to the sun
and in the breezes dance.

*   *   *   *   *  

Advent Week Two 2

Advent Week Two 7

Advent Week Two 8

Once again I'm reminded that sometimes the simplest traditions end up being the most meaningful.  As we wind down for bedtime in the evenings the girls excitedly gather around our Advent table to light the candles and read a story from our book.  Such a small simple moment that has really grounded us during this busy time of year.

An Advent table doesn't have to be an expensive or time consuming set up to make it beautiful and special.  A simple cloth draped over a wooden base and some fresh greenery we gathered over the weekend has become a favorite location in our home.  A simple verse read, candles lit, and a page from our Advent Storybook make these few moments of evening time special for  us.

Start simple.  Start small.  Sometimes less really can be more.  Will we add more to Advent as the years go on?  Perhaps.  But for now, we are truly enjoying a more simple holiday season.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

"crystal" snowflakes

Crystal Snowflakes 15

One of our activities during the first week of Advent was making these "crystal snowflakes" together.  This is such an easy project that can be done by any ages, just be careful with little ones around the Borax.  Our snowflakes are going on the Christmas tree, but these would make great additions to gift wrapping, or small gifts to give loved ones.    

You only need a few ingredients for this project which makes it even better.

Borax Detergent
Jars, bowls, or other container for growing your crystals
Pencil, skewer, or even just a stick
Pipe cleaners
String for hanging

We used white pipe cleaners, but I've seen them done with different colors and the result is beautiful.  
Crystal Snowflakes 1

  1. Have the kids take the pipe cleaners and form them into their snowflake shapes.  Any shape will come out beautifully crystallized so no need to worry about perfection here.  

Crystal Snowflakes 2

Crystal Snowflakes 3

Crystal Snowflakes 5

2.  Once you have your snowflake formed, use your string to tie it to your stick.  Make sure you have      a long enough string to suspend the snowflake in the solution you're about to make.  Just keep in        mind, anything inside the solution is likely to be crystallized.

3.  Make your borax solution, by mixing 1/3 cup of borax with 2 cups of hot water.  It doesn't have to      be exact, just somewhere in that range.  I've seen directions say 1/2 cup but I found that to be way      more than necessary.  Stir until the borax is completely dissolved and your water becomes clear.  

Crystal Snowflakes 7

Crystal Snowflakes 8

4.  Suspend your snowflakes in the borax solution making sure that they are not touching the bottom        or sides of your container.  

5.  Let them sit for several hours or overnight to form.  

That's all you have to do.  We did ours in the early evening and left them overnight, but within a couple of hours you could already see the crystals forming. 

Crystal Snowflakes 9

Crystal Snowflakes 10

Crystal Snowflakes 11

Crystal Snowflakes 13

Once the crystals have formed take your snowflakes out of the solution and let dry.  It's as easy as that.  It was so exciting to wake up in the morning and find that we had beautiful crystal snowflakes to hang on our tree.

Small disclaimer:  Make sure you explain several times that these are only for decoration and even though they look like rock candy, they are not edible.  Thankfully no one here tried to eat them, but it wasn't easy to convince them at first. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Saint Nicholas Day

Saint Nicholas 3

Saint Nicholas 2

Saint Nicholas 4

Wishing you and yours a season full of giving, of peace, and of light.

Happy Saint Nicholas Day! 

Advent Week One: Stones

*  *  *

The first light of Advent 
is the light of stones,
Light that lives in
 seashells, crystals, and bones.

*  *  *

Advent Week One 7

Advent Week One 3

Advent Week One 6

Advent Week One 4

We're nearing the end of the first week of Advent, and our first week to really honor it in our home.  In the past I always felt so intimidated by the beautiful Advent celebrations in Waldorf circles and wasn't sure how to bring that same beauty to our celebration.  That uncertainty kept me from taking that step, and year after year we barely touched upon Advent as we went on our way towards Christmas.  This year, in an effort to draw our focus inward I finally took the leap and made observing Advent a part of our daily rhythm.    

This has been such a beautiful and meaningful addition to our home already.  The quiet reverence, the simple beauty, and the lessons within make me wish we had done this years ago.  Our display is still simple, put together with pieces we had around us, except for the new addition of the beautiful Advent spiral which came from the amazingly talented Jenn from Oak Tree Vibrations.  She has been so sweet and helpful as we've added this beautiful facet to our holiday season, answering my questions and reminding me to trust in myself and keep things simple and meaningful to our family.  

Picking Persimmons

Persimmon Harvest 8

Persimmon Harvest 7

Persimmon Harvest 5

Persimmon Harvest 1

Persimmon Harvest 2Persimmon Harvest 4

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Leaf Jumping

Leaf Jumping 3

Leaf Jumping 4

Leaf Jumping 1

Leaf Jumping 5

Leaf Jumping 6

Before the days turned too cold, we did manage to fit in one of our favorite Autumn activities - jumping in a big pile of leaves.  What is it about childhood that makes jumping into a big pile of leaves one of the most fun things you can do?  Their enthusiasm for running and jumping into this pile seemed to never end.  Which of course meant the task of raking the leaves again and again seemed to never end as well.  Thank goodness Daddy got tricked into volunteered for that job.  Ahem.    

Monday, December 1, 2014

Goodbye to Autumn

With the start of December we are ready to embrace the coming winter and holiday season, and all that they bring.  But first, we must say goodbye to autumn and all the beauty that it gave us.

Autumn 3

Autumn Nature table 1

Autumn 2

Thankful Tree 2

Thanksgiving 3

Autumn Book Basket 2 

 The silence in this space was a good representation of the hustle and bustle that seemed to envelop us over the course of this past autumn.  I feel as though I merely blinked and it was over. Truthfully, many of our favorite activities and traditions were raced through or forgotten all together this year and I'm not really sure how we let that happen. 

With the start of a new month and season upon us, my focus will be shifting towards bringing us all together and staying present in each moment. It is so easy to be swept up in invitations and obligations this time of year, but it is incredibly important that we find the time to come together as a family and nourish that connection to one another. My favorite memories of this time of year rarely involve running about from place to place, shopping trips, or things of the like. What I look back on and enjoy the most are the simple moments of singing carols while decorating the tree, baking sugar cookies, or snuggling up and watching a favorite holiday movie. 

These are the moments that I want to savor and give priority to this holiday season. These are the moments that truly matter.