The first of Advent

Today was the first of Advent. It is celebrated less here in America so I was oh so happy that a Skype call with my parents-in-law in Germany on Saturday reminded me that it was time to pull out last years Christmas craft.

Last year, I was inspired by this driftwood centerpiece. Actually I was inspired by an Adventskranz (Advent wreath) of the same idea that is no longer available but this one gives you the idea. But instead of ordering it, I decided to make it myself.

You see, I cleverly figured out how not to stress the week before Christmas last year. You take your parents-in-law who are visiting from Germany, plus a toddler, plus a husband and you drive a few hours up the California coast and you get cozy with a fireplace and a hot tub and walks on the beach and very little cell phone reception. Okay, there was cell reception and an unexpected trip to the ER but there was no rushing around or last minute midnight trips to Target or frantic attempts at gift wrapping. Just time and hot chocolate, and an attempt at making peppermint bark. Plus, an inspired idea for a craft project.

Aware of the abundance of drift wood on Northern California beaches but unaware that it was illegal to gather and collect it until afterwards, I was determined to gather the loot I needed to complete the wreath for the next year.

Back at home, when presents were all unwrapped and toys were being played with, I had time to set up shop. When I realized that even the hardiest of hot glue would not do the trick, I deployed my secret weapon: meticulous husband with drill. And so the day after Christmas, we crafted and crafted some more. And it was done. And I was happy.

I would need to find candles and a way to attach them but I had a year. Plenty of time.
Or so I thought.

I am still on the lookout for the metal rims I need to permanently attach the 4 white pillar candles I had intended for this wreath, but with only the Saturday night before the first of Advent at my disposal, I had to make do.

And really, on Sunday morning, over breakfast, one little toddler singing "O Tannebaum" hardly new that the wreath wasn't perfect.


A new kind of Friday night...

No crowded bars or cocktails in sight! Just some salt, flour, cream of tartar and green food coloring.

And what do you get - one happy toddler, one smiling mom as she got to sit and just watch the whole thing unfold and one dad who has just learned how easy it is to make DIY playdough!

Recipe from Amazing Moms

3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups salt
3 cups water
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
a few drops of food coloring

1. Mix ALL of the ingredients in a large saucepan.

2. Cook over medium low heat, stirring intermittently, until the dough comes away from the edges of the pan and becomes thick so it is difficult to move the spoon. Remove from heat.

3. Let play-dough cool in the pan until it can be handled.

4. Turn play-dough out on counter or on wax paper and knead 3 - 4 times.

5. Play! Store in an air tight container.


"All aboard"

I wasn't sure if the little man would play along, but let's just say he took his Halloween costume very seriously!

A few "choo choos" and "All aboards" and he even got the little green dragon he is walking behind to say "That is an awesome costume!"

A moving box, some black spray paint, some kleenex and a few circle cards from Papersource later - and I had a real locomotive.

His serious gaze is for the ghoulish cemetery someone had constructed in their front yard, with creepy black mechanized mummy, smoke machine and eery music. So much to take in and process, including the part about "My mom just keeps telling me to go to the next house and they give me candy and she let's me!" It took about 5 houses for him to figure it out and then, well, you'd think he'd been doing it for years.