Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Advent Wreath Tradition with Reflection and Prayer Guide

Growing up the Advent wreath was always part of our pre-Christmas traditions with a prominent place in the middle of our dining room table. I wanted to start the same tradition with my family, so I made an Advent wreath this year. I tinted small canning jars purple and rose and arranged them on a cake plate with some greenery. 

I also tried to find some history on the Advent wreath. The beginnings of the Advent wreath are uncertain. However, it is known that Christians adapted the tradition by the Middle Ages. While the history was a little unclear, I discovered a lot about the various parts of the wreath symbolize that I'd forgotten over the years, including:
  • Circular shape: With no beginning or end, the circle symbolizes God’s unending love for us.
  • Four candles: The four candles symbolize the 4,000 years (1,000 years for each candle) from Adam and Eve to Jesus' birth.
  • Evergreens: Signify continuous life.
  • Purple candles: Reminders that this should be a time of prayer and preparation.
  • Rose candle: Rejoicing that the light has won out over darkness with more candles lit than not lit (3 vs. 1).
Each Sunday in the four weeks leading up to Christmas, an additional candle is lit on the wreath. I created a "cheat sheet" with Bible verses, prayers and symbolism to reflect on as I light each candle. I thought I'd share it with others who are interested in starting a tradition of their own. 

Download a printable Advent Wreath guide

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Easy Pumpkin Pancakes

This past Sunday we woke up and weren't ready to be done with Halloween. Pumpkin pancakes seemed the perfect way to keep the celebration going. Despite the extra hour we earned with day light savings time, my schedule loving toddler was up bright and early and I was a little groggy. This means I wasn't looking to put my culinary skills to the test; I was looking for the path of least resistance. I was going for something more in line with Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade instead of Martha Stewart.

I was lucky to find a recipe that I made a few tweaks to, and in a matter of minutes, we were enjoying pumpkin pancakes!

Easy Pumpkin Pancakes
2 1/2 cups pancake mix
4 Tbls. brown sugar
3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 egg
1 3/4 cups milk
2 Tbls. vegetable oil
2 Tbls. vinegar
1 can pumpkin puree

1. Combine the first three ingredients.
2. In a separate bowl, combine egg, milk, oil, vinegar and pumpkin puree
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix by hand until combined.
4. Heat up a skillet or fry pan to medium heat. Lightly coat with cooking spray and cook your pancakes!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Easy to make affordable bee costume: Perfect for last minute and under $10

The closest I got to getting her to wear her antenna.
One of my favorite memories growing up was scrounging through our house to put together Halloween costumes each year. My mom was a master at helping us do this. When I had Grace, it was one of the things I looked forward to - the challenge of turning her costume requests into reality with everyday items either around the house or easily purchased.

Being the only words she is close to saying is all done, she didn't have much input this year. But, she loves bugs, so it made sense to try to do something along those lines. I decided to go with a bumble bee.

Once we had our costume picked, I went to the place all good moms go to get overly ambitious and unrealistic expectations of themselves - Pinterest! At this point, I thought I would totally pull of a Pinterst worthy costume, and the Pinerest worthy photos to accompany it.

I headed to the local craft store to stock up on all of the supplies I needed to create my masterpiece. Grace made the first chip in my expectations when she refused to put the headband on her head. How was I going to have a Pinterest worthy bee without antenna?

Then I sewed on the ribbons to her shirt to attach her wings. They were too low, and the chip in my expectations grew into a full-on crack. Then I just flat out ran out of time and almost forgot the wings to attach to her shirt all together.

My expectations fully crumbled when it came time to do her photos. No little cooperative Pinterest model, or overly stylized "set" for that matter. But at the end of the day, I had a pretty cute costume (mostly thanks to the cute, but uncooperative, model) that I made for about $10. And hopefully Grace will see this as a small example that pursuing your creativity is more important than perfection.

If you're looking for an easy, affordable costume that isn't quite Pinterest worthy, here is how I made Grace's bee costume:

Tu-Tu Skirt
1 25ft. roll of yellow tulle ribbon - $3
Thin piece of elastic (18 inches long) - Had on hand

Black onsie - $3
Yellow tape - $2
Black pants - Had on hand

Headband - $1
Pipe cleaner - Had on hand
Two small pieces of tulle left over from the skirt

Screen door screening - Had on hand
Yellow tape


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