Posts Tagged ‘Christmas 2011’

Second Week of Advent 2011 – Saturday

December 10, 2011

Possum is 5 years 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 5 months

Little Princess is 11 months

Allsorts of good things amongst the chaos today, and isn’t that just what real life is all about?

The kids went with Daddy to the Hardware Shop today.  When they got there they discovered a craft workshop and they came home with these:

Aren’t they great?

Here is how you would make them, if you would like to give it a whirl.

You need a polystyrene cone for the tree.  It is covered in red or green contact. (Or painted.)

Wrap double-sided tape around the tree like tinsel.

Stick wrapped lollies onto the tape as decorations.  Add glitter or other embellishments if you would like.

Stick a toothpick into a polystyrene star.  Paint the star with glue and cover with glitter.  Stick the other end of the star into top of the tree.

Be sure to bring it home and proudly show it to Mummy.

I am linking this idea to:    image

 

Remember our lovely candy cane plants?  Well these have resulted in much munching of candy canes.  It also resulted in one almost complete one sitting on DH’s bedside table (NOT left there by DH, I might add.) 

This morning Little Princess had popped by for (yet another) feed from Mummy (I am so glad that I have finally mastered breastfeeding lying down!).  After her snack, she sat up and something caught her eye.  I figured that it was the trains, also on the bedside table (also not left there by DH).  No, that wasn’t it.  She had such a sparkle in her eye.  It was the candy cane!

Ah well, I thought.  An 11 month old won’t like peppermint so let her have a lick.

IMG_2134IMG_2132 IMG_2133

Yup, it’s true.  This 11 month old didn’t like the candy cane – she LOVED it!  She ate the entire thing and enjoyed every last bit.

(Gosh, she is so cute at the moment.)

 

And as for the Countdown to Christmas box… well, this didn’t actually make it into the box, because I slipped it to the kids:

I had intended to set it up on a straight track on our front window sill, sitting the tracks on some wadding so that they looked like they were in the snow.  However, Bandicoot was setting up a train track this morning and just begging for anyone to play with him (to no avail) so I popped these trains on the tracks.

Fair to say, “Winner”.

Tonight we had planned to go Carols in the Park.  I just really wasn’t up to it.  I didn’t fancy trying to manage three kids on a picnic rug, on wet ground.  We usually have a lovely time when we are there, but I just couldn’t cope with the logistics of it.  It isn’t helped that the really local one (the one we can walk to) isn’t on this year, so we were going to have to go to the much bigger one in the next suburb.  (Actually the next-next suburb.)

Fortunately, we hadn’t told the kids about it.

Instead we had our planned dinner at home.  The marinated chicken drumsticks were such a hit with the kids that they have asked if I will please make them again.  (I marinated them in Coca Cola, garlic and ginger for about three days.)  Of course, DH and I are still not that keen on them – too fatty for us – but I bet I can work something for them again.

 

We also decided to do a family movie night.  This is something that I have heard of many families doing, but have never been able to convince mine to try.  Oh we had a lovely time!

I restocked the box while the kids were in the bath:

IMG_2145 Something for everyone!

We watched Red Boots for Christmas first.  We all enjoyed that one.  Possum kept saying, “That was a really nice show”.  (Here is a link to the “Red Boots” website.)

Little Shepherd was good, but it was a little too forced for my liking.  I guess that it had to be to fit all the story into the time frame and to make it accessible to the younger audience.  (I do, however, want to grow-up to be like Joel’s grandfather.)

At the end, we started to watch the Dora Christmas Carol (again), but the kids got too tired, so we cut our losses and plonked them into bed.

 

I wonder if DH and I will have time to curl up on the lounge and watch something over a cuppa (and perhaps a piece of stollen) now?

 

Second Week of Advent 2011 – Friday

December 9, 2011

Possum is 5 years and 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years and 5 months

Little Princess is 11 months

 

And they grew some more…

 IMG_2106

Today was largely taken up with other events, but you can’t expect a kid to start school without some sustenance, can you?

I was really touched.  I was in the shower this morning and Bandicoot came running in waving two of the large candy canes. 

“Look, look, Mumma!  They grew big ones!  Here’s one for me and one for you!” 

Say what you do about that boy (and we DO), but he loves his Mumma.

IMG_2107

I decided on a treat for Bandicoot this afternoon.  I thought that after his first (half) day at school, he might need some snuggle time with me, a little bit of extra loving.  Remember Polar Express?  Well he keeps asking for the train movie. (Did I mention how much he loves trains?  Second only to sharks.  And maybe his Mumma.)  I mentioned the movie to Possum, and, cool dude that he is now that he is so grown-up, he declared that he didn’t like the movie that much.  (After we bought it, you notice.  Grrr.)

So when Bandicoot came home at lunch time, he got to open the Countdown to Christmas Box and what did he find?

image

And what did we do, Bandicoot, Little Princess and I?  We snuggled on the lounge and watched it.  We had a very enjoyable time.

Another Christmas Give-away that I have Found

December 8, 2011

Possum is 5 years 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 5 months

Little Possum is 11 months

imageAbby over at Little Learning Lovies has a wonderful idea for the lead up to Christmas.  In their family, instead of playing music in the car during this period, all the Carols and songs are played inside the house.  In the car they play Christmas stories.  Isn’t that a wonderful idea?

And, just when you were already feeling warm and cozy and hot-chocolatey inside, she has written an entry all about The Adventures of Mrs Claus.  If that wasn’t enough, she also has a giveaway going.  You can win an MP3 download of the stories, or, if you live in the US, you can win the CD version.

Head on over and check it out.

Second Week of Advent – Thursday

December 8, 2011

Possum is 5 years 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 5 months

Little Princess is 11 months

Wow!  Look what happened overnight!

IMG_2103

Itty-bitty candy canes have sprouted!

The boys think it is absolutely amazing.  They really believe that they are growing and are afraid of damaging them.  At one point, Bandicoot’s fell over and all the little canes fell out.  Oh the tears!  DH told him that maybe if we quickly put them back in they would still be okay.

Of course, the real challenge is not to eat them all – if you eat them all when they are so little, no big ones will grow, will they?  This has had two outcomes:

Bandicoot – eat all except one

Possum – only eat one per day and see how big they grow

See how big they grow? See how big they grow? Oh-oh!  We have explained that they will only grow to a certain maximum size and probably stop.  Or else, as DH put it, what would happen if we never picked them?  They would keep growing and growing and take over the house and we would have nowhere to live!  Judging from the giggles that this elicited, I am not sure if some little boys are planning an science experiment.

 

And on the topic of candy canes, it seemed a great time to introduce this book:

IMG_2105   

It appeared in the Countdown to Christmas Box this morning.

I have read about this book for a couple of years now on many American blogs.  It sounded good, but I wasn’t sure if it would live up to expectations.  Some things are lost in the cultural divide.

When I found it for just $7- I thought I could take the risk and find out for myself.

I have to say that I was well-pleased with this one.

It is a lovely story about a (very jolly looking) Candy-maker who designs a new lolly – the candy-cane.  It talks about why he made it like he did, reflecting on the Christian message.  It is written nicely in verse, with big, beautiful decorations and pictures of the most delicious looking candy canes.

When I read it to the kids today, we stopped and had a little discussion about English dialects.  They now understand that “Candy” is what people in America call lollies.  (We also included that they are called “sweets” in the UK.)  Tonight when DH read the book he substituted “lolly” in place of “candy” throughout.  I had to chuckle quietly to myself.  He really hates it when people here say things like “cookie”, “fire-truck” or “store”.  At least it didn’t ruin the rhymes!

Second Week of Advent – Wednesday

December 6, 2011

Possum is 5 years 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 5 months

Little Princess is 11 months

 

This is what we found in the Countdown to Christmas Box this morning.  Bandicoot wanted to eat the lollies, so it was a bit tricky convincing him that they were magic lollies and it would be better to let them do their stuff.  We got there in the end.

IMG_2096

Firstly we planted the tiny lollies in the cotton wool in the pots, then we placed them on the window-sill were they could get some sunlight (assuming there was a break in the rain).  Finally they were sprinkled with ***magic growing dust*** (teeny-tiny, itty-bitty star shaped foil glitter).

Then we waited.

IMG_2100

And waited.

IMG_2102

Poor Bandicoot!  His patience levels are even lower than those of his mother!  Several times during the day he checked the pots to see if there had been a change yet.  I am glad we ended up having such a busy day out of the house because I don’t think he would have coped otherwise.

I have suggested that perhaps they require moonlight as well as sunlight for the magic to really work.  We will have to see what happens in the morning…  

Spritz Biscuits

December 6, 2011

 

I am not a biscuit baker.  Cakes do not phase me.  Quick breads, muffins, breads, all in my stride.  Biscuits – argh!  They are temperamental things.  You need to watch them so carefully.  Moments too soon out of the oven and they are soft (or runaway if they are gingerbread men), moments too late and they are burnt.  The same with packing them away.  Pack them too soon and they go soft in the tin, too late and they go soft on the cooling rack.

So of course, it makes sense that I bake a myriad of biscuits at this time of year, doesn’t it.

This was tonight’s offering:

IMG_2093

Delicious Swedish Almond Spritz Biscuits.

 

I particularly like these for a number of reasons:

  • We never had a dough-forcer growing up.  I had never even heard of one until I stumbled on a butter cookie recipe that used one.  I was attracted to the recipe in the search because it had the name “spritz” in the title, which is such a cool word.  (So much nicer than the English equivalent of “squirt”, don’t you think?)  Therefore this recipe is testament to my grown up ability to learn new tricks (thank you, You-Tube).
  • They are a Swedish recipe.  I have Swedish ancestry on my Father’s side (and a Swedish surname), but little was passed down.  Most of our Swedish traditions have been re-found.
  • They are a little fancy, but not too fiddly to make.
  • They taste good!

 

When I first discovered dough forcers I found that there were pretty much two types that you can get.  The first is the bells and whistles version that retails at around $70 – $80.  That seemed like a lot of money to me, especially when I didn’t even know if I liked the recipe.

The second type is the $5 – $10 model.  It is plastic.  It has a small barrel so you have to keep refilling it (for which, I have now discovered, a piping bag is ideal.  No, not really overkill at all!).  It can be hard to work, leaving you with a very sore thumb.  And sometimes the end falls off onto the baking tray.  However, it suits me just finely.

Now all that is left is to try and get the timing right for packing them into the bikkie tin.

Second Week of Advent 2011 – Tuesday – Feast of St Nicholas

December 6, 2011

Possum is 5 years 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 5 months

Little Princess is 11 months

 

IMG_2068

Waking up to Gold Chocolate Coins!  Happy St Nicholas Day!

Today the Countdown to Christmas Box contained some unusual things.  Things that looked like they belonged in the kitchen.  A packet of Speculaas Biscuits and a packet of marzipan.  Strange, wasn’t it?

Well, being the feast of St Nicholas, we went for a few Dutch treats.

I know I probably could make the Speculaas Biscuits, but our supermarket sells some really yummy ones in the specialty foods section.  And they are even printed with Dutch-style pictures (think windmills and girls in clogs, not Rembrandt.)  I love these, so I was pleased to be able to treat us to a pack today.

Links: Speculaas Spice Mix                     A little about Speculaas

The marzipan was for Letterbanket.  These are very yummy, even if you make them the complete-cheat way that we do.  I am sure that in Holland they have a much more involved recipe than what we do, but this works for us.

I first heard about Letterbanket as a child reading this book:

image

(My sister bought me this book one year so that I would finally return her book about Christmas around the World.  I have been fascinated about other cultures and celebrating events throughout the year for as long as I can remember.)

image

 

 

 

And when searching for a link for “Letterbanket” I stumbled across this, which is scan of the page from the book!

 

 

 

Anyway, here are some of our endeavours.

IMG_2080 Two gorgeous little chefs, reporting for duty.  (This was a hard photo to take because they were both fighting to stand on the blue chair.  Notice the teddy bear and the shark in Bandicoot’s pocket?)

IMG_2092 Yes, okay, you noticed.  Unless all our names start with the letter “I” (they don’t – none of them do), this isn’t exactly Letterbanket.  Maybe we should have called them Sausagebanket instead!  Either way, they are delicious.

So, would you like to make some?  It is really very easy.

  • Firstly, take your marzipan and roll it into sausages about the width of your thumb.
  • Wrap this in puff pastry (also store-bought)
  • Seal and glaze with a beaten egg
  • Sprinkle with sugar
  • Bake at about 220oC until golden and puffy

Oh, so yummy, I might just sneak anothery.

And seeing as we were all in the kitchen, we tried another recipe.  I hadn’t made these before, but it was written on the same sheet as a favourite of mine.  I think they look lovely and festive.

(Bandicoot has his mouth full there, trying not to show he has been gobbling biscuits!)

Turkey, Anyone?

December 6, 2011

What is Christmas without turkey?

This guy is just adorable!

IMG_2051

I have told you before, I am such a sucker for kitsch.

If you pick him up around his neck, he gobbles and flaps his wings madly, kicking his legs to boot.

Little Princess loves him, too.  She is just starting to crawl, so it is so gorgeous watching her tentatively crawling around, as this gobbler waddles precariously about to the tune of “Do Da Day”.

Second Week of Advent 2011 – Monday

December 5, 2011

Possum is 5 years 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 5 months

Little Princess is 11 months

 

Today, alas, we went shopping.  Not toys and presies and looking at lots of pretty decorations, maybe stopping for a coffee or an ice-cream type shopping.  Grocery shopping.

So how does grocery shopping feature as an Advent activity?  Well, you know all that Christmas baking?  All those goodies we intend to share with family and friends?  Do you know what they are made out of?  Yup, stuff from the supermarket.

It was a mammoth shop.  I still haven’t handed the receipt over to DH (he is the receipt man around here).  He will flip when he sees it, and I was scolded for purchasing some lamb cutlets for him and the kids (I can’t abide lamb), but that isn’t why I haven’t done it.  I just haven’t got that far.  By the time we finished, it was more than the money that was spent.

Fortunately, the boys discovered this on the shelves of the supermarket.  The old Dora love is back in vogue at the moment.  It cost more than I should have spent on a whim, but I knew that they would enjoy it, and I knew that we would all be happy for the break once we got home.

IMG_2062I felt terrible, ‘though, because I didn’t watch it with them (I normally pre-watch and pre-read everything for them).  I listened from other rooms, but even that wasn’t so attentive – I was pretty exhausted.  However, come bedtime tonight, Bandicoot was still telling me about it, and wants to watch it with me again tomorrow.

As for the Countdown to Christmas Box today – well what do you know?  It also contained a DVD.

Being the day before the Feast of St Nicholas, I wanted them to watch this one.

IMG_2061

I have to admit that the Veggies do annoy me a bit.  I find their voices hard to listen to, and sometimes hard to understand.  They do, however, appeal to the kids, and they often tell a story nicely.

Bandicoot couldn’t concentrate on this one very well, but Possum was hooked.  (Poor Bandicoot is still suffering a bit from that bug he has had).  Possum was really quite interested to hear the origins of St Nicholas.

And, when they wake up in the morning, they will find bags of gold chocolate coins amongst their shoes. 

Second Sunday of Advent

December 3, 2011

Possum is 5 years and 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years and 5 months

Little Princess is 11 months

And I am, er, 25 and a bit

 

IMG_2050 Yes, the Countdown to Christmas box held the all important Second Candle this morning.  It is quite amazing, the boys are more excited about finding the candles and adding them to the Advent Wreath than they are about anything else that they find in the Box.

Have I told you about our little Advent song?  It was printed in our Church Bulletin a few years back, and we sing it each mealtime that we light the Advent Wreath (mostly dinners).  I am not sure of the credits, but if you know, you can let me know and I will update this entry.  It goes to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

See the candles burning bright;

One by one each week we light.

Advent is a time to wait,

Then it’s time to celebrate.

When the waiting time is through

Christmas joy for me and you.

Pretty, huh?

 

The Box did contain something else as well.  It was another sticker book for each of them.  This one is a sticker and activity book and I don’t like it as well as last week’s, but they had some fun with it anyway.

IMG_2049

 

And just in case you were wondering…

IMG_2059 

Can you make it out?  You don’t expect me to tell you, do you?

IMG_2057