Away in a Manger

The craft we did at or toddler group this week was nativity themed and it was followed by a simple service by the church who run it. It was all very sweet and the kids were dressed as angels, stars, wise men, many Mary’s and lots of sheep.
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I glued the wooden sticks together in advance with a blob of hot glue and then the children drew a face on a circle, glued a triangle onto the manger, added straw and a ribbon hanger. Nice and simple. The one above was made by T age 3.

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Bless my Elf on the Shelf

I came home late from college the other night with my head swimming with the things I still needed to do before bed. As I was running around like a loon and really resenting this busy time of year I came across something so beautiful it really made me stop and think.
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Our little elf has been hopping around the house each night surprising the kids with his antics. I looked up to find he had already found a spot for the next day. There he sat on my kitchen window sill surrounded by all our well loved and well played with nativity ornaments that I place around the house to help the children remember the true meaning of christmas. Here they all were, gathered together with our elf reading them the Christmas story from the Bible. This was a perfect reminder to me of the true meaning of christmas. I stopped in my tracks with a heart full of gratitude for our little elf on the shelf, for my wise and caring husband but mostly for the little baby Jesus, who he was and is and all that he means to me.

Cinnamon hearts

My friend passed this recipe on to me a while back and I was determined I was going to make them before the season was out. There never seemed to be a free moment but today I decided – do or die, I was going to make cinnamon hearts. As it turned out, it may not have been the best day as it was crazy busy, and I forgot about them in the oven. They are a few shades darker than I would have liked them to be (a polite way of saying I burnt them), but hey, they still smell good. In fact, they smell great, almost good enough to eat, that’s why I thought it best to label the packaging. I don’t want to be responsible for any broken teeth if people think they are meant as a treat. And although they smell great, I’m not sure the PVA glue would taste too good.
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They are really easy to make. The recipe is below. You just mix it all up into a dough, roll out to about 0.5 cm thick and use any shape cookie cutters you feel like. I used a straw to cut out a hole for some ribbon at the top. Bake on a low heat 175f for an hour turning half way through.

I can try and describe the smell that fills the house while these are baking, but really it is something best experienced for yourself. Divinely delicious, festively flavoursome! I had a Yankee Candle that I enjoyed burning that filled the house with the smell of apple and cinnamon until J decided it made him feel sick and blew it out every day he came home from school. This was at least 10 times stronger than the candle and J actually liked the smell. I’m on to a winner. My house gets filled with so many interesting odours through the week, it’s great to have a nice one today. Especially when it is associated with all things festive and lovely. I’m glad I got to make them before Christmas. It’s so important when your “to do” list is so full to make time to tick a few things off your “would like to do” list.

Cinnamon Dough Decorations

6 tbls apple sauce
10 tbls cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp white glue (pva)