Thursday, December 20, 2012

Advent Pockets

Several years ago {maybe four or five?} I stumbled across Jenny's blog and fell in love with her Advent pockets.  I adapted the colors to suit my decor and love them.  I'm ready to make a new set with updated colors and freshen things up a little although I'm uncertain what colors I'll use.
 In years past the pockets have held a new nativity set, one piece for each day so the nativity scene slowly unfolded, with Baby Jesus appearing last.

 This year I decided to join the trend of doing activities during Advent.  So each pouch holds a slip of paper with an activity and a chocolate.  There are gobs of lists of activities all over the Internet, I meshed several suggestions together and came up with what worked for our family.  I wanted a good mix of serving and blessing others along with fun, quiet at-home activities. 

Some of the activities are things we try to do every year anyways, like caroling, baking or driving around looking at lights.  This way it prevents the "when are we going to...." and also ensures we don't forget to do these favorite things.  It helps to keep a master list of what you put in each pouch so you're not caught off-guard and unprepared.

When an activity requires giving money, try to put the money in the pouch, that way the child feels more a part of it.

Here's some of our list.

~Put up & decorate Christmas tree, have our annual waffle & "rolly" sausage dinner

~Write letters to a few friends, mail them stickers & small treats
~Write a letter to Grandma & Grandpa telling them 10 reasons you love them
~Make paper snowflakes
~Tape $1 to a vending machine with a nice note

~Tape quarters to a bubble gum machine with a nice note
~Family board game night
~Ask a cashier what his/her favorite candy bar is then buy it for them
~Write letters to Grandma and your great-aunt
~Candlelight bubble bath (Grab every candle you have, place them in the bathroom and light, then turn off any electric lights.  If you don't feel comfortable leaving your children with lit candles, try a small string of Christmas lights in the bathroom.  I let them each have a bath on different nights)
~Go Christmas caroling
~Make cards for your Sunday School teachers
~Leave a treat and a nice note on top of the garbage can for the trash man
~Make & mail cards for our minister who lives out of town now
~Go out for dinner, leave a huge tip for the waitress, then drive around looking at Christmas lights
~Bake Christmas cookies
~Have a Hot Cocoa party

~Write a nice note and take a treat to each of the ministers
~Family Minute-to-Win-It party
~Have a pizza party in the living room while watching a Christmas movie
~Go to the donut shop, leave an extra $20 for the customers behind you

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ice Candle Part Deux

I know I've posted about my ice candle before but the directions were shabby at best and I thought to take pictures when I made it this last time.
Start with two containers, the larger one is about 2 gallons, if  I had to guess.  I think it was from GFS Marketplace and had potato salad or something similar.  The other container is about 48 ounces.  I have also used the metal insert from my ice cream maker as the middle.  If it is taller than your big container, that is just has to be smaller in diameter.
Start by filling your larger container with water.  Only fill it about 1/3-1/2 at first. 
 Put your smaller container in the middle and put something inside the small container to weight it down.  Your small container will probably shift off to the side if you don't weigh it down.  

You can see in this picture we chose to use a bag of split peas.  I should share with you that if you choose peas or beans of any sort and then accidentally drop your ice candle while it's in the freezer, there is a good chance your bag will crash and break and the bottom of your chest freezer will be covered in dried peas.  

Now you will need something to keep your middle container from popping up.  Mr. Steady used lots and lots of tape.  If your large container has a lid - that is the best.  After I made this I remembered I still had the lid.  Oops.
Now, just freeze until it's frozen solid.  When you're ready to use, add some warm water to the middle container to loosen it.  Add a candle in a container (I like to use a pillar candle in a canning jar) and set outside on your front porch.

If the weather is cold enough and your ice candle is still in good condition and pretty solid, you can bring it back inside each night and just refreeze.  I used this one four different times.  This really impressed my friend who saw it on several occasions but didn't realize I had taken it inside each time and stored it in the freezer between times :o) 

I am going to keep my eyes open for containers and maybe do a trio of smaller containers soon.

Monday, December 3, 2012

This is Just About To Get Weird

I think I slept through the entire month of December last year because I took all these pictures to post and then didn't.  Fail.  Would it help if I said I actually wrote this post in June and set it to auto-publish today?

I was searching Pinterest for tiny houses and came across this little gem. Is that not the cutest thing?

That definitely looked like too much work, but when the boys and I made gingerbread men, I decided to play around with the dough and cut a slit into this little guy.  Yes, he dipped a toe into the water to see how it felt prior to this picture.

 He enjoyed sitting on the edge of the cup but was noncommittal about actually getting in.

And then Mr. Steady got involved in the fun.  You can see where this is going, can't you?  He influences me in bad ways.  He suggested we make the hot cocoa into a hot tub.  This part of the post is not suitable for children {wink}.  This is our gingerbread likeness, enjoying the hot tub, except it wasn't until now I realized my doppelganger should be wearing a swimsuit.  Little hussy.  Oh well, at least she remembered to bring a dish rag beach towel.

No gingerbread men were injured in the making of this blog post.  Um, nevermind.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Last year when I read Monica's post about creating beauty I was instantly inspired.  She took an old Coca-Cola crate and filled it with items she had around her house.  As an aside - am I the only one whom, after reading The Help, wants to pronounce it Co-Cola?  Here is her original crate

I immediately thought of a black obscure crate that I purchased for $5 at a garage sale some years ago.  I love this crate but it is so large and unwieldy that I never know what to do with it.  Nevertheless, I immediately got started on my own crate.

I am a shameless copy-cat and used dried green peas and cranberries as well.  Mr. Steady cut some pine boughs from the neighbor's tree overhanging our yard which I tucked in here and there.  I scoured the house for tin and galvanized containers and rounded up all my white tealights and votives.  I also gathered my gingerbread cookie cutters and choose the best gingerbread man I had just baked.

I popped three green apples into a spot on the middle and called it good.  

It was so pretty sitting in the middle of the table and it made me smile every time I saw it.  It had to get moved around a lot, most days we left it on the kitchen island/table to keep the dining room table free for....well, dining.

Thanks, Monica, for the inspiration!