The Advent Gnomes

The boys have two advent calendars this year, one from Lego, and one from the local fabric/craft store (on sale, plus a coupon) with pockets that can be filled. The Lego one, without fail, has so far something exciting each and every morning, the one that needs to be filled has had the occasional let-down.

The first four days of December the calendar to be filled was filled with care, peppermint bark squares, or mini-candy canes were discreetly tucked in to the pockets once they were snugly tucked into their beds, and then one morning, the pockets were empty.

How did this happen? Oliver looked at me in disbelief. I get enough grief for enough things so I passed the blame onto the Advent Gnomes. They’re the Gnomes responsible for filling the Advent calender (everyone knows this).

IMG_0320Sometimes I think the talk of gnomes and fairies in the early childhood at school is a bit crazy, and sometimes I’m really glad I’ve got gnomes to blame for one night of slacking off.

Oliver told me that he was “very sad the gnomes forgot, then he went over to the nature table where the Gnomes reside. He gave them a very stern talking to. He explained that the Nature Table Gnomes should tell them (the Advent Gnomes) they will bring chocolate tomorrow!

So far the gnomes have not forgotten again. 

IMG_0275The Advent Gnomes also took full credit for St. Nicolas’ visit. They left the boys clementines, chocolate, candy canes and carved wooden ornaments of their first initials to hang on the tree (when we eventually put it up).

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our Lego Winter Village – Santa’s Workshop

Up until now, our Lego Winter Village has been made entirely out of parts we already had on hand — yes, we have a wide variety of part, and largely built without the aid of directions or building guides.

On the afternoon before Thanksgiving, Grandma and Oliver built the Christmas Tree Lot Truck. On Thanksgiving afternoon, Grandma and Oliver built the Giant Snowman. It was a lot of building, and Oliver was really excited to be able to do so much of it all on his own!

On Thanksgiving eve, Dulce, Gavin and I added Santa’s Workshop to our Christmas Village.The boys were thrilled to have a real Santa (not just Mommy’s found-parts “Santa”), and a real sleigh with the most adorable reindeer.

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our Lego Winter Village – Mall Santa & Renaissance Carousel

No Christmas Village would be complete with out Santa, as we didn’t have an “official” Santa, I put one together, I’ve nicknamed him “Mall Santa.” Mall Santa wears a pirate hat, a wizard beard, a costume borrowed from knights, and white “gloves” from a waiter. Mall Santa needs elves, so I found some mid-90s forest folk (think Robin Hood), confiscated their bows and arrows and set them to work as elves.

Mall Santa

Mall Santa

Winter Villages often have a gimmicky element, so Gavin built a Renaissance Carousel — it actually spins.

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Renaissance Carousel

 

our Lego Winter Village – Tree Lot, Gluhwein Stand & Horse Drawn Carriage

The boys have been really into Duplos for some time now, and Oliver is showing an active interest in Legos. Ever since our CraigsList Lego haul, I’ve been on the lookout for instructions, and design inspiration.

Inspiration hit really hard when Grandma Dulce and I decided the boys needed the Lego City Advent Calendar. One thing led to another, and of course the Advent Calendar would need a place to be staged, why not create an entire Christmas Village out of Legos? Gavin says that Dulce and I “enable each other.” I can’t disagree, I purchased the Christmas Tree Lot Truck for Oliver to build, and Dulce got Santa’s Workshop. I then looked up the Christmas Tree Lot, and decided I could build it (it was a 2013 set, I found it for $30 which was too much).

So, the other night, after the boys went to bed, I built a Christmas Tree Lot.

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Lego Christmas Tree Lot

Then I built a gluhwein stand, I told the boys it is a hot chocolate stand.

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My homemade Lego Gluhwein Stand

I added a horse-drawn carriage for good measure.

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Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh! Hey!

Of course that’s not really enough to make a complete Winter Village, so I built a few more buildings that I’ll share in subsequent posts tagged LegoChristmasVillage.

remember, remember, it is now November!

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The Autumn Leaf Fairy needs more embellishment

I am trying to be in denial about the fact it is already November, this effort is failing miserably, as the pumpkins are out on the nature table, as are a dozen acorn caps. Racoon is visiting Mouse in his cozy pumpkin house, and wispy haired gnomes roam freely across the shelf-scape. The Autumn Leaf Fairy is descending from sky (hanging from the thermostat, we are still in denial and prefer a cozy down comforter to using the heater… I’m sure we will change our minds soon!), and we have a lantern to light our way through the early dark of evening.

I have also been actively seeking out uses for apple butter. I had a batch that didn’t get canned (thanks freak heat wave!) so it has been sitting in a doubled half-gallon ziploc bag in the back of the fridge. My favorite use of apple butter so far has been to use it in an apple butter spice bread. It is moist, well spiced, and makes three good-sized loaves.

Apple Butter Spice Bread

  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup apple butter
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup honey
  1. Preheat oven to 325*F, grease three 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pans
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and spices.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk together eggs, apple butter, milk, and honey.
  4. Add wet to dry, mixing well to combine.
  5. Pour batter evenly into greased loaf pans (8 1/2 x 4 1/2)
  6. Bake for 45 min, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean (check at 40 min.)
  7. Cool in pan for 15 min., gently remove from loaf pan and allow to finish cooling on rack.