Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Final Week or so of Advent...

The third week of Advent is when we light the pink candle in our Advent wreath. The pink stands for joy - we are joyful that Jesus's birth is getting near! This week, Caroline moved Mary and Joseph into the stable of our nativity.

Our preparations for Christmas kicked into a higher gear. We began wrapping gifts for family members. caroline really was a huge help to me! She enjoyed being able to participate in the giving by helping me wrap the gifts. She stuck pieces of tape on as I folded the wrapping paper.

We made gift baskets full of baked treats to share with family members. Caroline helped stuff the bottoms of the baskets with this raffia-type stuff - what a mess it was! But it sure looks pretty in the baskets!

And to fill the baskets, we prepared several things. Caroline had lots of fun shaking sprinkles onto our Christm,as bark before we put it in the fridge to harden.

And we made these sugar cookies from an organic mix I found on sale at Kroger. We put sprinkles on some and baked others plain so we could frost them.

The Saturday before the final Sunday in Advent, Chris and Caroline went out in the rain to buy our tree! They got one of the last ones at Lowe's (a place where we knew the trees would be somewhat covered form the rain in the garden center). It was wet from the days of recent rain, but Chris put it out in one of our storage sheds and pointed a box fan at it, and it dried out fairly quickly. We decorated it on Sunday after Mass.

Cecilia was pretty interested in the lights! Thankfully, other than pulling a few low ornaments off the tree, she hasn't really made a mess of the tree. She pulled some bows off the presents once we put them out, but that wasn't until the 23rd, so she didn't have long to mess with them anyway!Back to the kitchen... the day after the cookie dough was made, it was baking time, and then the next day was decorating time! I gave Caroline her own tray of cookies to frost and decorate as she wished. She had been saying she wanted to make some gingerbread men with "currants for eyes and raisins for buttons," something she had heard in a gingerbread man story. I didn't have any currants, but she was happy with lots of raisins! We made royal icing, which hardens when it dries, best for gingerbread that is going to be packaged up to give away!

While Caroline was busy with her own creations (which ended up quite heavy with frosting!), I was busy myself, decorating the dozens of gingerbread men and sugar cookies...
...and I do mean dozens! They literally took over the kitchen counters and stove!! I like to make the initial of each person who will get the cookies... You can see several gingerbread men with letters on them! I got really into it (since Caroline was so occupied with her own cookies and Cecilia was sleeping on my back!) and made some to look like dogs for my brothers who own dogs, and I made a few to look like my parents' cats.

We even made some to look like priests, thinking we'd give them to my brother Tim, who is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Atlanta. As I was icing some priest cookies, Caroline said she wanted to also give some to the seminarian who is currently at our parish, and she also wanted to make some for our parish priest and the priest who frequently visits our church to say Mass. Caroline really was excited about giving the cookies to people - she went on and on about taking the cookies to our seminarian in particular.

This gingerbread recipe I make is a special one because it is the same recipe we would make in my Girl Scout troop. My troop leader had this recipe, and we would use it every year to bake gingerbread and make houses to sell at our church Christmas bazaar. She promised to give it to each of us girls when we got married. Surprisingly (to me, anyway), I was the first to get married in the troop. It is a Swedish recipe that make thin, crisp gingerbread.

Here is Caroline with her finished products! We won't be giving these away - I doubt any adults would want any so covered in frosting and sprinkles!! I am pretty anti-artificial food dyes (my ten month old became a spaz when I gave her a quarter teaspoon of red medicine recently, as an example!), but for decorating purposes, we went ahead and used them. I have been wanting some natural food colorings but haven't coughed up the dough for them yet. So I'm just being careful to limit the color intake in Caroline!

I finally finished making stockings for the girls! I plan to post sometime soon about how I made them. I took lots of pictures of the process so that if I need to make more down the road, I will remember how I did these!

Here's Caroline hanging her stocking. She hung Ceilia's as well - next year, Cecilia will be able to hang her own with a little help!

One of our last Christmas preparations was to make a birthday cake for Jesus. I decided to go the non-traditional route for a birthday cake by making a cheesecake. I have a yummy candy cane cheesecake recipe that we made. Caroline was great at smashing up the candy canes with her hammer from her tool box!

Other than that, we got out decorations and did more baking and cooking, prepped a breakfast cassarole for Christmas morning, and got out Christmas dishes - that was the bulk of our final preparations!

I hope everyone has finished up their Advent observances in a peaceful and joyful way!

1 comment:

Bridgette said...

Cute cookies! Looks like you guys had fun! I don't know about the coloring so much as the medicine making your kid a spaz. Mum said I used to have all sorts of wacky reactions to medicines when I was little -- even the stuff the doc's told her was safe to give to an under 2 year old. And that's back when most meds didn't have flavoring and coloring in it (at least not at the little pharmacy we used).