December 13th is Day 1 of our “12 Days of Christmas” so get ready!
Each day we will post the day before so you can be prepared to get er done…
As we get started I will just run out and pluck a partridge off the pear tree and we can get started. Oh… we are in Alberta. No pear trees and I have not seen a partridge in years and I think that was when I was visiting the zoo as a child. Even if we could find one we would have to shoot it to get close to it, so guess that is not an option!
So if we were to do the 12 days of Christmas how would we celebrate that?
At our house we love the Christmas season and we often start in November by getting the first ornaments out and shifting the house into the holiday mode. By December the decorations are out and the only thing left is the tree. These days you can actually get a pretty good fake tree. They look a lot more like the real thing than they use to and they are more environmentally friendly.
This year we set up the fake tree that we picked up on special last year in our downstairs living area but the kids really wanted to have a real tree so we got a second one and set it up in our upstairs living room. When I was a kid on the farm we use to look forward to the day that my Dad would come in early from his daily chores and declare that we would go looking for a tree in the forest. Am I the only one who remembers that?
My brother and I would get dressed up all warm and pile into the Ford pickup truck and drive out to our bush quarter. Dad would carry the axe and we would stomp around in the woods examining every possibility while freezing and shaking in -40 weather. We would try to find one that looked good from all angles but if that was not possible we would try to get one that had one side that looked good and we would set it up with the bad side against the wall. It is so nice today to just go to a Canadian Tire and find the one we like. White spruce or some exotic fir? Which would you like? Would you like it delivered? They are all the right size. They are all perfect on every side. Just get a stand from Walmart and wallah – Instant tree just add water!
Decorating is easier now too. So much to buy… so little time. Dollar store is amazing! The wonderful thing about a tree is that you can put a real hodgepodge assortment of things all over it or you can do a theme tree. Ever been in one of those great Christmas stores where the whole tree is covered in angels or teddy bears? Or there is only one or two colors on the whole tree. You can make a Canadian tree or a musical tree. So many choices…
Those are really nice if you are Martha Stewart and have an unlimited budget but the reality is for most of us that kind of uniformity is too much money. It is better to get that kind of thing after Christmas is over at half price and save it for next year or plan for it all year round. So our theme is a bit more simplified. Downstairs all the store bought colorful ornaments and garlands will decorate the fake tree. Upstairs we will go with a homemade theme. So tonight we set it up and put on the simple lights and the popcorn and cranberry garlands that we made earlier this month. We also have some ornaments that we made over the years with different crafts. Those can go on immediately, and over the next few days we will add some new ones that we create as a family.
We will play Christmas music and drink some apple cider while we decorate it.
Tomorrow we will decorate the cookies that we will hang on it.
Take out the crockpot and put in 2 Litres of apple juice and turn it onto low.
Add 3 long cinnamon sticks.
One package of mulling spices. Mulling spices are not the easiest to find these days. I have been getting mine from a Hallmark store in Okotoks the last few years. You may want to Google to find some. If you can’t find any that are made already you may want to try making your own. I love Google don’t you?
Just put this mixture on at about 4:00 and let the aroma fill the house up into the evening. Drink it as you like and add more apple juice if more guests drop by.
More coming tomorrow follow the RSS feed so you get it all!
Kerry George was has three children Zechariah, Joshua and Naomi and started her writing career by publishing the book “Juicy Fruit Christianity” in 2001. Since then she has written numerous articles for Today’s Business Woman, Faith Today and multitudes of blogs and online publications for ministry and business related publications. Currently she is the owner of Loyal2U and the Calgary Business Network and has a personal blog at http://loyal2u.blogspot.ca/ She also creates content for a variety of businesses in the Calgary market.
Here are a few of our favorites in December.
Zoolights http://www.calgaryzoo.org/content/view/29/287/#zoolights November 23 – January 5
Heritage Park http://www.heritagepark.ca/index.php
Once Upon A Christmas at Heritage Park http://www.heritagepark.ca/special-events/onceUponAChristmas.php December 23 and 24
Below is a form for you to add your own special events that are going on in the community. Feel free to post holiday events.
One year on Christmas Eve I decided to make a string of popcorn for the Christmas Tree like we had when I was a kid. Guess what? One day is not enough. Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself!
If you want to have a nice long string of popcorn to decorate the tree with you need to start now, and it works a whole lot better if you enlist a couple of partners. So go out and buy some thick thread and get a good sized needle and while you are watching television you can get quite a bit done. In fact, if you and the kids each take a turn you can pass it around over a few nights and you can have a family project that literally strings you together.
Making a popcorn garland is a wonderful seasonal activity. This Christmas craft was practiced by some of our early pioneers as they brought their holiday traditions over with them from Europe. Put some apple cider on the stove and curl up on the couch.
This is so much nicer and way more authentic than anything that you can buy from the dollar store. If you want to be really fancy you can string cranberries into it as well or make a separate string of cranberries. It is also fun to tell your children stories about what Christmas was like while you were growing up as you make your decorations.
I know Halloween seems to be just over and all the Holiday stuff is coming out in the stores. If you are like me you don’t feel quite ready for it. But why not enjoy the entire Christmas Season? The winters are too long so why not? We may as well get in the mood because it is coming anyway and why not have a few more days of making merry before the drudgery of January hits us? Why not put on a Santa hat and dance around with the kids? They will love it!
Do you have a lot of decorations? Why not get started early and put out a few things now and a few more things later?
This year we have just moved into a new home so most of my Christmas decorations came out at once right at the beginning of November but usually I start by getting out my Christmas mugs. It is a simple thing but it helps to get rid of my grouchy “winter is here” mood. I also have a couple dessert trays that I like to have handy. I may not even fill them up yet but I find a spot where they can sit and look decorative. Then out comes the towels and oven mitts to hang in the kitchen.
Next I get out the box that has the nativity scene in it and get that set up in a corner somewhere. Then the angels get placed on a shelf while I drink hot chocolate out of my Santa mug.
A few days pass and I make some cookies with my daughter. We always make lots and put some into a fancy tin for unexpected guests. We may even make some extra dough and put it in the fridge for a bigger baking day on the weekend. You can always put extra cookies in the freezer once they are baked.
As November progresses more and more comes out, or we make something extra, or we pick up something special. Many of our Christmas ornaments have been made a few at a time over the years and other things were purchased from garage sales in the summer time. You can get some really decadent items still in the boxes even with price tags on them! Even in December we still occasionally find a bargain at a thrift store. It does not have to be expensive to be delightful.
Oh and definitely invest in some great music to play softly in the background and get some cinnamon sticks to simmer in a pot on the stove. It makes the whole house smell awesome!
We are currently working on some fine articles for the 12 Days of Christmas. Stay posted because you are going to want to read these great ways to stay in the mood for Christmas that will begin posting on the 12th of December. Hilarious and riveting fun!
Send us your stories about Christmas and we will post them as well. firstname.lastname@example.org
There are a lot of new immigrants to Canada who have never made a Jack-O-Lantern. Do you have a neighbor with kids who is new to our country? Why not invite them over to carve a pumpkin together? Or why not have a little neighborhood pumpkin carving contest?
Making a Jack-O-Lantern is easy if you have never done it, but it does require an adult being involved.
Start by carving the hat. You can just make a circle if you want but you should know that after it is a few days old it could shrink and the lid may fall inside. That is why it is better to use a zigzag pattern.
Once you have made the hat and pulled it off you can get inside the pumpkin to empty out the seeds and guts. Don’t throw those seeds away. You can bake them later for a tasty treat!
Use the sharp edge of a spoon to scrape the insides real good and get rid of all the gunk. Make it smooth so nothing can dangle into the flame of your candle later. Also make sure the bottom is nice and smooth so your candle will have a nice flat place to sit.
Now select the side of the pumpkin that you want to put the face on.
You can do the traditional triangle eyes and nose and big gaping mouth or be more creative, but remember the shrinking later. If you are going to put teeth in the mouth, make them nice and wide or they may shrivel into nothing as the pumpkin shrinks.
Post your pictures on our Facebook page. We would love to see what you have made.
Put your Jack-O-Lantern on your step or in your window so others can enjoy it too!