Hello my friends and Happy December! Are you as startled as I am to find ourselves in the last month of the year? Where did the fall go? Where on earth did 2022 go?! And where did all those posts I had planned since this past spring go??
Well, I'm very happy to be here with you all after (yet another) very long and unintended hiatus. I'm afraid it's really been challenging finding my blogging groove again (not to mention, the time to blog!), but if you are over on Instagram, I do post there pretty regularly. And I do still intend to do more with my website, and - though I say this every year - I hope THIS year I find my way back to connecting here (and elsewhere) more consistently.
But all of that is fodder for another post (perhaps one closer to New Year's), so for now, I will look forward to these little holiday teatimes and hope that you will join me when you can. :-)
Now, if you do follow me on IG, then you might have seen my recent monthly photo challenges. Here is the schedule for the month of December:
As I said in my post, I can't promise I'll post *every* day, but I will do my very best. And honestly, I just like using this list (the same as last year's) to inspire a fun holiday “mood” in our home, as well as in our daily homeschool activities! ✨
I'm really excited to revive my weekly Advent Teatimes - I have such fun putting them together. As always, all are welcome to join me, and if you do post about your tea, please send me a link so I can read and share it!
Here is the schedule I made up for these teatimes:
But now let's move on to my very first cup of 2022 Advent Tea, which is pictured at the top of this post. Yesterday was St. Andrew of Scotland's day, and it is tradition in our family to bake a batch of shortbread on this day. This year I decided to try baking it in my new cast iron skillet ...
And I'm delighted to say, it came out just lovely! Thick and soft with crisp edges and a solid bottom. Shortbread is just so easy to whip up, and to my mind, the perfect kind of cookie to enjoy with a cup of hot tea.
And speaking of today's tea ...
Nevermind that this is a "Bedtime" brew - I love to drink it on winter afternoons because the flavors are so cozy and comforting. Also, I don't do caffeine after 9 a.m.! And I love to find really good-tasting, full-bodied decaf tea blends.
What tea are you enjoying lately? Or are you more of a coffee or cocoa kind of gal?
Now, the theme of this first tea of Advent is "setting the stage," and that's because for me, the time between Thanksgiving and the first of December is is a time to prepare a welcoming environment and cultivate an atmosphere of quiet joy and anticipation. This is something I give a good bit of thought before we find ourselves immersed in the bustle of the season. I like to write out my ideas and possibilities, perhaps create a collage of images that convey the kind of feeling I hope to create in our home.
Every year we follow a Waldorf-inspired, nature-based Advent journey. This means that during the four weeks leading up to Christmas we explore a different aspect of creation: minerals, plants, animals and humankind. We've been doing this for many years now (ever since Bookworm was little and we first discovered Waldorf education) but every year I like to tweak our Advent countdown a little bit.
This year I decided to create a cozy window nook where we could hang some daily activity cards and prepare an Advent spiral garden ...
In this first week of Advent, we enjoy activities inspired by things like pretty rocks, shells and crystals. So on Monday, the kids and I collected rocks from the yard (as well as pinecones and acorn caps, but I'll get into that later) which we then painted as "story stones."
These four shown here (which I painted using craft rocks) represent the four kingdoms of creation:
Over the weekend I prepared 24 tags - numbered 1-24 on the front, with a simple activity suggested on the back.
I also hung some copper star lights around the window frame. These give off just a touch of soft light, keeping in line with our atmosphere of quiet joy. :-)
Yesterday the kids and I made a salt-based dough (first admiring the salt crystals under our jeweler's loupes) and I fashioned it into a spiral. I baked it for a couple of hours in a very low oven.
Today we made acorn cap candles, following directions found on Pinterest!
(Note: I pressed an acorn cap into the spiral - 24 indents in all - before it hardened, so the caps would nestle snugly into the finished dough.)
I cut a bit of beeswax hemp wicking for each cap ...
I also made a heart-shaped candle (using a shaped ice cube mold)...
This one will be lit on Christmas Day!
(Needless to say, the lighting of these candles, surrounded as they are by tiny pinecones and moss, is undertaken with much care and adult supervision. I plan to only keep the candle lit until we've read aloud a verse of the day, then one of the kids can blow it out.)
I placed the spiral in the window nook, on top of a wooden lazy Susan. Each week we will add items around the spiral - treasures we have on our shelf, or find on a walk - that reflect the beautiful layers of nature ...
And today we lit the first one!
"Winter is dark, yet each little spark
Brightens the way to Christmas Day.
Shine little light and show us the way
To the bright light of Christmas Day."
(Heidi St. John)
In each of my teatime posts I will share little corners of our home where we are living out our Advent. Shown below is the crafting table I set up in the family room ...
Here is where we can make, bake, snack, or even do a puzzle - and watch Christmas videos as we work, play or eat. (Showing here in the background: Stick Man, a holiday favorite!)
So! The stage has been set and the plans have been (tentatively) made. December can be cold, dark and hectic - but I hope these simple activities encourage my family to connect with the season, kindling a little light in our hearts day by day.
Thanks so much for joining me today, my friends! I will be here again next week with a tour of our Christmas tree AND my Christmas kitchen. :-)
Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... see you here again very soon!