Advent Tea @ Dawn's ~ Heaven & Earth 🌟
Advent Tea @ Dawn's ~ Animals at Advent 🦌

Advent Tea @ Dawn's ~ Season's Greenery 🎄

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Hello, my friends and welcome! I'm so happy to have you here with me today, sharing in our second cup of Advent tea! It's hard to believe how quickly we are marching towards Christmas - as I type up this post, we have but 10 days left till THE day!

Now, as I mentioned in my last post, our family follows a Waldorf-inspired, nature-based Advent journey in which each week is assigned a different "kingdom of creation," and the second week is devoted to the Plant Kingdom. So over the past week, we have been exploring the many wonderful plants (herbs, trees and spices) of Yuletide - in our homeschool activities as well as our holiday cooking and crafting!

As for my "tea," well, today I'm enjoying a version of a German Christmas drink called, "Gluhwein." As I sip, I envision this might be the very hot mulled beverage I'd enjoy if I were to one day visit a European Christmas Market. Our blend today however is child-friendly, so we skipped the traditional red wine and opted for fruit juices instead.


The recipe I followed is one I found online, with a base of grape juice, pomegranate juice and orange juice. If I were to make it again, I think I would tinker with the spices a bit. This time out I used a cinnamon stick, some cloves, star anise and a single bay leaf. (Im actually not a fan of anise, as pretty as its star-shaped pods look!) I loved the orange and lemon zest however, as well as the addition of a cup of gently-brewed black (decaffeinated) tea.

I served our Gluhwein - or Kinderspunch as it is known in its non-alcoholic version - in mugs I've had for YEARS and dearly love. The pattern is "Berries" made by Harstone Pottery. Nowadays I believe it is only available on eBay or perhaps

I bought these mugs before I was even married, back when I worked in the home department of a large department store. I remember seeing these mugs in the stock room and immediately squirreling a set of them away for myself! They are a bit heavy in the hand, but worth it - they feel so nice and sturdy and hold a large serving of a hot beverage beautifully.

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These mugs are so special to me because I remember fondly tucking them away in my hope chest, thinking that maybe one day I would share a special cup of holiday cheer with my children ... and here I am doing just that!

Now as for my cookies, well - this week they are unapologetically store-bought because this week has just been NUTS! After a couple of quiet weeks at home while we fought off a nasty virus, we found ourselves back in the busy homeschool saddle again ...

On Monday, I took Little Bear to his Food Art & Science class which then became a little more involved due to a dead car battery  ...

On Tuesday we attended our homeschool group's weekly gathering where we made homemade candles (the moms) and holiday cards for foster children (the kids). LB and I brought one of our favorite party dishes to this event: a cheesy, pull-apart Christmas tree!


This is so easy to prepare and is always a hit! Our group loved it and it paired nicely with my friend Jess's crockpot Wassail!

Ok on Wednesday, I got my hair cut and colored! Which is always a treat to be sure - a little ME time - but it takes so much time out of my day! As soon as I got home which was just after lunchtime, we caught up on lessons and Bill headed to his office holiday party. All told, we had a much later supper than usual!

On Thursday - Earlybird's 22nd birthday! - we took EB and his therapists and my folks to a local toy museum, which is one of EB's very favorite places to visit because they have gorgeous model train layouts!

And today, Friday, we had our last Audubon nature class of the year (so much fun!) and while we were supposed to go out to lunch afterward, we ended up coming straight home - because our sweet and lovable, yet highly mischief-prone dog got into a trash bag yesterday and then spent all morning "throwing and going!" So we headed home directly from our outing, and put a call into the vet ... and now Fenway will be enjoying a diet of chicken and boiled rice for a few days!

(Just to sum up the week - tomorrow is cookie baking and (hopefully) wrapping while Sunday is a birthday brunch for EB and my dad! Next week looks to be pretty quiet though ...)

ANYHOO! Let's get back to today's cookies because I'm now getting wildly off-topic!

So these yummy little wafers are Bill's favorites, and you can find them in any supermarket's cookie aisle.

I found this lovely description online Anna's Swedish Ginger Thins :

Some things you just do not change... like Anna's Thins. A lot has happened since Anna baked her very first Swedish Thin in her little backstreet bakery in downtown Stockholm. Since 1929, Anna's secret family recipe has used all natural ingredients to create a cookie that is perfectly thin and deliciously crisp. A traditional symbol of love and goodwill, Anna's Thins are also known as "Swedish wish cookies." To make a wish, place a cookie on the palm of your hand and tap it gently with your index finger. If it breaks into three pieces, your wish will come true. Lycka till! Today Anna's Swedish Thins are known all over the world.

 How charming!


When arranging my tea pic, I added a pretty vase of dried hydrangeas from my parents' front garden (I just LOVE the colors in these blooms!) as well as a pitcher of hemlock branches gathered from along our driveway ...


We have so many of these handsome evergreen trees in our yard and I just love their cute little cones! They start out in the spring as these smooth, bright green ovals and then slowly over the growing season they turn brown and unfurl. They are absolutely perfect for crafting!

And speaking of crafting ...

This week's tea and goodie - as well as a few recent crafts - were all inspired by our homeschooling this month,  as we learn about Christmas customs and legends around the world. This past week we focused on Germany and Scandinavia. (Spoiler alert: next week we'll be focusing on Great Britain!)

I also thought it would be fun to learn about the myths and cryptids of different cultures, because Little Bear is fascinated by all things relating to monsters and mystery. So last week we read about the fearsome old German legend of Krampus, who arrives on "Krampusnacht," (the night before St. Nicholas Day), to take a switch to naughty children or perhaps drag them off to (presumably) his lair ...


And since Krampus makes his dreaded switch out of birch branches, I decided to use some birch-patterned paper straws we had in the craft cabinet to make a couple of ornaments for our tree:


And as I worked on the log pile and the popsicle stick tree shown above, Little Bear read from an interesting, seasonal chapter book called, Krampus and the Thief of Christmas by Eldritch Black. It's quite an absorbing tale!

This week we also read an old favorite picture book, Peter & Lotta's Christmas by Elsa Beskow. In it, the children learn about the Swedish legend of the Christmas Goat and so of course, I had to find a craft to go with that ...

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... and happily, I did at One Mama's Daily Drama - some easy instructions (plus free printable) for making a yarn-wrapped Yule Goat!




As I worked on the Goat, Little Bear got to work making some air-dry clay ornaments. I recently bought some alphabet stamps specifically for this craft ...


... and boy oh boy did he have fun with them!


Honestly, it's all about poop with these 10 year olds ...

On a finer note, and in keeping with the Scandinavian theme, we enjoyed our traditional St. Lucia's Day breakfast on Tuesday morning ...


And one of these years I will try making St. Lucy's "Lussekatter" - aka saffron buns - but for now, Pilsbury cinnamon rolls do the trick. ;-) Here I used three star candles to represent the seasonal "star boys," but maybe a few longtime readers might remember this picture from the very first year I blogged?


If you can believe it, these two precious kids are now 28 and 24 years old! And that was the year Crackerjack tripped over a chair and landed head-first on a Lego. No stitches needed but it sure did bleed a lot ... and he still has that scar!

Ok, moving on...

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Every year during our Plant Kingdom week we make a stop into a local nursery - to pick up some plant-related craft supplies as well as to absorb all that lovely warm greenhouse air! This year we just could not get OVER the zillions of poinsettias for sale! An enchanting purple one really caught my eye - though sadly we cannot have poinsettias in our home because we have pets. (And there are mixed reports on whether poinsettias are toxic to pets and as mine could make a career out of eating greenery, I'd rather not take the chance!)

So instead we enjoy the silk version such as the ones gracing our front door wreath ....


(It gets a little more crushed in the attic every year, but this wreath has lasted us a good long while!)


And now for a few pictures from a recent outing with two of my kids - my "evens" I call them, #2 and #4. These photos were taken at a local event called "Winterlights" and as you can see the atmosphere was just magical!

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So as I mentioned, this week we had a special family birthday - Earlybird turned 22! Here are a few pictures from our visit to the Wenham Toy Museum with my folks and EB's amazing ABA therapists ...

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We're having a brunch on Sunday to celebrate these two special men who share a birthday. And they not only share a birthday but a deep love for all things TRAINS!


Now, EB is also a great lover of sweets, but his favorite of all is that old Colonial American classic - the whoopee pie. So yesterday Little Bear and I decided to make some! This was my first time making whoopee pies and I was so pleased with how they came out ...




We followed this recipe and I will definitely be making them again!

Happily it just so happened we learned this summer that our beloved Audubon teacher also loves whoopee pies, so we made up a batch for her too! And for the two lovely volunteers who accompany us on many Audubon outings, LB and I potted paper white bulbs in mason jars: 

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A perfect project for celebrating Plant Kingdom week! I really love when crafts make pretty and useful gifts!

And you know what was especially nice about today's Audubon class, the last of 2023? Dad got to come, too!

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Well dear friends - have I kept you here long enough, lol? I fear I have ... I got awfully chatty this week, but I guess I just had a lot to share with you! I hope you enjoyed hearing about our week and our Advent activities. And I hope you enjoyed sharing a cup of virtual tea with me - I so wish we could do this in person!

But for now, I will wish you all a peaceful and restful weekend which is the LAST ONE BEFORE CHRISTMAS - BUT DON'T PANIC!

I will see you all here again very soon!


~ Dawn

(At the very latest - next Friday with my third Advent tea of the year!)