Advent Tea Week 1: "Setting the Stage"
Happy New Year, a PDF & Some News ...

Advent Tea Week 3: Holiday Cleaning and Crafting!

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Hello my friends, and welcome! I'm so happy you could join me for another cup of holiday tea in this third week of Advent. :-)

But before I get to this week's tea, I must apologize to you all for missing last week's tea entirely. We've had some family challenges lately, and I won't bore you with the all the details, but let's just say the past week involved a nasty cold virus, a broken tooth, a broken computer AND a broken teakettle. And then Earlybird's ABA therapist (who provides daily support) quit unexpectedly.

*ack*

Thankfully though, things are getting back on track. And so what we have here is two-fer-one kind of post, fairly jam-packed with pictures and notes on what we've been up to lately, despite all the setbacks! I hope you enjoy ...❤️

So my friends, may I offer you a cup of "spiced orange mulled tea?"

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I found this recipe on Pinterest as I searched for a signature Christmas cocktail. Every holiday we host features a signature drink (so fun!) but I like to offer something special that's non-alcoholic too. And this tea just looks so pretty in my little red cups, a set of 12 (with a matching punch bowl), that once belonged to my grandmother. With cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, fresh oranges and black tea this made my kitchen smell like the Christmas season itself as it brewed!

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Now as I've mentioned many times before, our annual Advent journey is heavily influenced by Waldorf tradition as well as the natural world. In the first week of Advent (as detailed in my prior post) we explore the concept of "heaven and earth" - crafting with and celebrating this first layer of creation: minerals, stones, stars, shells and earthly foundations like soil and sand. The second week has us embracing the blessings of the plant kingdom, most especially the Christmas tree itself! We also learn about Christmas plants and one of the things I like to do at this time of year, in this specific week, is to clean out and organize my baking pantry. This is a great way to become familiar with the herbs and spices of the season!

Ok, so this is the before pic ... yeah it was bad.

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And here are the in-betweens and afters!

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Gosh, was it a mess in there! And so many expired things ... I'm kind of ashamed. Well, we hauled everything out and wiped down the shelves, which were sticky with who-knows-what and dusty with random seasonings, etc. Then we went through all the stuff - smelling as we went - and consolidated, organized and then - rearranged!

The bottom shelves still need some work - boxes of oatmeal and tea and cocoa are in need of better storage. And I've started a pantry list in my planner in hopes of keeping better track of what I have on hand and what needs replacing. (Somehow I had four jars - all opened - of molasses, and three separate, half-empty containers of cornstarch. Of course, this is not all that surprising considering the state of affairs in that first pantry picture!)

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Now how about a tour of the rest of my kitchen? That too was a bit of a mess, so on one of the days we were staying home with kids feeling under the weather, I devoted myself to a thorough late autumn cleaning. It's nice to have the kitchen clean before I really get into the holiday baking!

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(Store-bought star cookies - so good with a cup of decaffeinated tea!)

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(I just love how the window stars form pretty shadows on this wall of cabinetry.)

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(Couldn't resist a picture of Fenway - one year old now! - basking in the afternoon sun. He loves to be underfoot in the kitchen, or anywhere really!)

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Here are a few pictures from plants week, which had us exploring not just the pantry, but the yard as well. We found hardy rosemary, crawling mint, plenty of evergreens ... 

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And frosty rose hips in the front hedgerow!

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And this little guy will be our solstice tree, as yet undecorated. We'll hang lights and edible treats for the wildlife here next week.

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Last month we busied ourselves gathering pine cones for holiday crafting. The Eastern White Pines in our yard are extremely tall and drop humungous cones! For this craft we first arranged the cones on a cookie sheet and baked them at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes (to kill any bugs). Then we coated the tips of each petal with a mixture of white acrylic paint and school glue ...

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So easy to do! And with such pretty results!0-7

A sprinkle of glitter made them really festive, and especially lovely hanging in a sunny window ...


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A few cones were further decorated with tiny felt balls. I just love how these came out!

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Another craft that was simple to make and sweet with the fragrance (and taste!) of fresh peppermint:

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Instructions found on Pinterest: Place greased metal cookie cutters on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and fill them loosely with starlight candies. Then bake for 5-6 minutes at 350 degrees F. You really have to keep an eye on them because some will melt faster than others depending on the size of the cutter and the amount of candies in each.

Ready for the oven!
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And here's how they turned out! :-)
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And, as promised, here's our Christmas tree for 2023 ...

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Note the playdate around the bottom of the tree! This would be to keep the puppy and the cats out of the tree water!

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A closer peek at the Advent "wreath" on our kitchen table:

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Four little red lanterns, one for each week of Advent, each holding an LED tea light. The lanterns stand around a Christmas tree candleholder and the whole set up is surrounded by a tangle of tiny golden bells, (fake) red berries and fairy lights.

It's so beautiful at night, especially!


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Ok, two more simple "makes" starting with these sweet wooden bead snowmen:

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I saw this on Pinterest and knew I had to try it! You basically just thread twine through three plain wooden beads, knotting it at both ends, leaving a loop at the top. Then use sharpie markers to make a snowman face and tie a little baker's twine around the "neck" for a bit of extra color.

Thank you to "Creating Me" for the idea! You can find the full instructions at her post.

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Final craft: a little pumpkin leftover from Halloween, transformed into a pretty woodland friend ... 0-38

Again, something I found on Pinterest! The book shown in this picture is one of our favorites to read in the week leading up to the winter solstice: Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter by Kenard Pak.

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And last pics I'd like to share are from yesterday, which was Earlybird's 21st birthday. (I KNOW - how did EB get to be 21?!?!)


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My folks and I took EB to a local toy museum and then to lunch at Wendy's.

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It was a really nice day!

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Well my friends, I hope you are all doing well and enjoying these last weeks of the year. I hope you are staying healthy, too! Thanks so much for joining me for tea and I will keep my fingers crossed I'm able to be with you here again next week!

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... see you here again very soon!

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