Little Tomte, Wooly Squirrel

Astrid Lindgren’s The Tomten and The Tomten and the Fox are two of our most-cherished winter-time books.  I adored them as a child, and am very glad my kids love them, too. A few years ago, Ruth made a needle-felted fox and little Tomten, and the boys still look forward to playing with them while I read the stories.   The Tomten cares for the creatures of the forest and keeps watch over the animals of the farm.  He is a gentle, quiet little gnome and these simple stories of his unseen interactions on the farm resonate with young children. My children have

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Christmastide Yarn Along

I’ve been enjoying this book in the quiet of the early morning.  The prayers and passages are perfect for that time of day, while I knit a few rounds of a simple pattern and contemplate the season in which we are immersed.   The simple knitting that has kept my hands occupied while my mind is engaged with the reflections of Christmastide has been a pair of uncomplicated red mitts.  The mitts above are a pattern I have enjoyed making many times before.  These are for a gift exchange, and will get gussied up with a bit of needle-felting before they are

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Early December Nature Table

  Today it really began to feel like Christmastime in our home: Bea and I converted the nature table  from autumn to Advent. The Nativity figurines were a gift (from France!) and the conifer candle, picked up at the farmer’s market, is made from local beeswax.  The perpetual calendar is from MamaRoots. I potted up a Christmas Cactus cutting from my mother.  Hopefully, by next Christmas it will be in bloom. Ruth and I began decorating our little table-top tree.  (We always get our tree from the L’Arche benefit sale.)  The lights and star go on, and tonight or tomorrow we will string popcorn

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December Afternoon

Knitting a few rows on some Toasty mitts , Daily checks on fermenting veggies.  Jalapeno Purple kraut all finished and getting jarred up for gifts.  Plain sauerkraut coming along nicely.  It will be ready to serve with Christmas dinner. (The weight goes back on top when I’m done checking, so all cabbage is submerged below the brine.) Vying for space in front of the heater vent to thaw frozen fingers and toes, Enjoying the ever-rotating display of Christmas decorations the children arrange and rearrange as they play with them. Back tomorrow with a recipe for the coming Solstice, and some

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‘Tis the Season

  Merry Christmas!  I’m trying to post a bit for the holidays, as time permits.  We will see if I can keep it up.  My laptop is still broken, so I am borrowing my husband’s late at night after the kids are in bed.   The girls and I spend much of our spare time with speed skating club and the girls’ roller derby (I’m joining the recreational league in January!).  Hal is learning to read and endlessly creating Lego sculptures, and George is full of joy and wonder and 2 yr-old energy.  We are making all sorts of changes

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Christmas Preparations

We’re finally getting the sewing cleared away and readying the dining nook for Christmas dinner. (That big bag of oats will shortly become granola for Christmas gifts. ) And putting out some last-minute decorations… and making our traditional holiday persimmon bundt cake while the boys play with dinosaurs at my feet… and putting out the last few pieces of the children’s new Nativity on my grandma’s marble-top washstand. (As much as I’d love to have a Nativity set like this one or this one, I am really enjoying this budget-friendly set – the children can play with it as much

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KCCO – Christmas skirts

After what seemed like endless gathering and pinning, the Christmas skirts are finished.  Bea and Ruth are happy with how they came out, thank goodness! The girls chose whatever fabric they wanted from a stack of thrifted Christmas prints my sister and I had accumulated over the past few years.  Ruth asked for them to be double layered for warmth and to feel old fashioned (like a petticoat). And she wanted it long – nearly to the floor – with ruffles.  I tacked on some vintage woven ribbon along the hem for good measure. Bea wanted a drop waist and

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Holiday Sewing

Today is dedicated to finishing up Christmas sewing projects.  A three year accumulation of thrifted holiday fabric was sitting in a box upstairs, and the time had finally come to do something with it all, or donate it back.  So, sewing marathon it is! Some of the fabric is fairly ugly 1980s through mid-90s prints of teddy bears and snowmen, but works just fine for gift bags and such.  More than half the fabric is quite old – 1950s and 1960s cotton prints of holly, ribbons, candles, and I’m pretty excited about sewing with those. We’ve already completed many, many

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December 1

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… One of my favorite parts about getting out the holiday decorations is finding the box of Christmas books, and checking out a big stack of Advent and winter-themed library books.  I keep some of them in a basket, and rotate the selection every few days. This morning we refreshed the greens and candles on the Advent wreath before lighting the second candle tomorrow night. (Yes, this is technically a birthday ring my mom bought me when I was a small child in Germany, but it functions just fine for holding Advent candles,

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L’Arche Christmas Tree

  Each year, we visit the same tree lot to pick up a little table-top Christmas tree which will sit in the window seat.  It is a tradition we really enjoy, and we’re thankful to be able to support L’Arche in our small way. L’Arche, is a wonderful organization that serves adults with disabilities in many communities.  From the Portland chapter’s website: At L’Arche Portland people with and without developmental disabilities work together to create home and build community. Those with developmental disabilities form the heart of our shared life and invite others into mutual relationships. We welcome each person’s

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Advent 2011

In this season, we add Advent readings, reflections and songs to our homeschool day.   Some way we are enjoying this season of anticipation: reflecting with an Advent prayer book from Ascension Presbyterian reading from The Jesus Storybook Bible celebrating with Family Hymns from Kortney at One Deep Drawer playing with some of our Nativity sets on the nature table creating an Advent wreath

Christmas tea

The dolls hosted a little Christmas tea party for their sparrow, cardinal and swan friends yesterday morning.   Pretend mint tea, fruitcake, gingerbread, and bird seed were served under the Christmas tree. The girls were inspired by my favorite childhood Christmas book – Tasha Tudor’s, A Doll’s Christmas.  If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.  It is out of print, but you may be able to find it at your local library.

I heard a bird sing…

Yesterday evening, we strung popcorn and cranberries and decorated our little Christmas tree.  We have quite a collection of bird ornaments, and as we hung them by candlelight (dark at 5pm!) I was reminded of  Oliver Herford‘s little poem, I Heard a Bird Sing – I heard a bird sing In the dark of December A magical thing And sweet to remember. ‘We are nearer to Spring Than we were in September,’ I heard a bird sing In the dark of December. Hope and Light to you on these dark winter nights.

Christmas Paper-Craft Kit

The girls are reaching an age where they really enjoy being able to participate in making Christmas gifts.  So, for their cousins (ages 5 1/2 and 3 1/2), we put together little paper-crafting kits, so Aasha and Ruby can enjoy an afternoon of Christmas crafting. This is a very frugal gift, costing us less than $1 per kit, since we used cardstock scraps and last year’s Christmas cards, as well as craft notions purchased at the thrift store.  It’s also a gift crafty kids will love – when I made my girls fall-themed kits for Thanksgiving day, they made cards,

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Back to posting

My apologies on being absent for a bit – we’re once again struggling with sick kids, especially Firecracker, who has had multiple trips to the doctor and the ER in the past few weeks because the colds are wreaking havoc on her asthma. That, plus my first time hosting Thanksgiving for extended family, and now scrambling to prepare for our church’s Women’s Christmas Breakfast at my house this coming Saturday (ack!  that’s less than two days away!!), I have hardly been on the computer. I’ll be back tomorrow with a string of posts about the beginning of our Advent celebration.

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It’s Christmas time in the city…

 This is truly a Christmas to be counting our blessings, with the treacherous weather and all.  We wish our flight wasn’t grounded and we could be lounging on the beach with Grandma and Grandpa, but we’re enjoying the crazy snow as best we can, and looking forward to New Year’s in Florida!  Merry Christmas from our snowed-in family in Portland!


Kristi – don’t read below – Christmas present spoiler!   Finished a pair of these for my sister-in-law for Christmas (I also plan to make a grey pair for myself, like A Friend To Knit With‘s originals, after Christmas).  They were knit from Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride in Victorian Pink.  I made a few little modifications, and am really happy with them.  Two snowy evenings of relaxing knitting (while holding a sleeping baby and watching John Adams) and they were done! With some leftover yarn from other recent knitting, I also churned out a few coffee sleeves to go with them (my SIL is a Starbucks

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Firecracker’s Snow Day

Pictures from earlier in the week, when it was a little warmer and less blustery, and Firecracker thought she might like to go play out in the snow.  She quickly thought better of it, and came in to warm up on the sofa, looking at some Dr. Seuss books with her sister and enjoying the snow from the window.  We are currently pretty much snowed-in and the latest news is that our flight out to my folks’ tomorrow may be canceled as the snowstorm turns into an icestorm.  So, since I have some time on my hands, I think may have

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Children’s Christmas Market

Our table at the Portland Homeschool Children’s Holiday Market, where our family sold homemade gift tags, peppermint bark, and marshmallows.  It was a wonderful venue for the girls to show off their projects, to raise money for various charities, and to network with other Portland homeschoolers.    We raised $28 dollars for charity and sold nearly everything we brought (prices were kept low, so all children could participate in the buying as well as the selling –  $1 each, or 3 for $2).  We met lots of other great homeschooling/unschooling families.  The girls came home with tummies full of brownies and a bag full of homecrafted goodies

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Peppermint Bark

This is an easy holiday candy that preschoolers/primary-aged children can make with only a little supervision.  The entire project (minus chilling time) takes about 15 minutes. You will need: 2 lbs white chocolate, chopped, or 2 lbs white chocolate melting chips, about 10 candy canes, crushed (to equal one cup) (my girls put the candy canes in a large bowl, and went to town with a potato masher), a double boiler and a jelly roll pan lined in parchment or waxed paper. Melt the white chocolate in the double boiler (we added half, let it mostly melt, then added the other half – it was much

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Tuesday we spent the evening stringing popcorn and cranberries for the Christmas tree while sipping apple cider (homemade - from our dear friend, Linda).  We listened to Hubby read our nightly Advent reading, and then to this wonderful music.  Peaceful, joyful.  Now, this is Christmastime. Our tree has very densely packed branches, so we voted to leave off the paper chains and candy canes this year – they’ll be hung up elsewhere in the house.  Tomorrow night – ornaments and icicles!

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