Christmas Countdown -Week Six

We should all have our Christmas plans well in hand by now.  Our houses sparkle (or at least clean enough) and we are ready to start Advent.


To Do This Week:
  • Keep up routines to maintain clean house.  This is where I have problems.  I hate housework and have trouble making myself dust often and sweep every day.
  • Write and address final one-fifth of Christmas card list. Mail all cards by December 10th.
  • Complete the final one-fifth of gifts “to make” this week. If the gifts have not been completed, put them away for next year. Add any replacements to the master gift list.
  • Complete gift shopping. Wrap and mail any send away gifts by December 6th.
  • Begin family Advent observance.  Plan a special activity for each day.
  • Learn more about other holiday traditions.
  • Order special roasts for holiday meals.
To Buy This Week:
  • Purchase gifts for the final one-fifth of the master gift list, together with any gift substitutes for uncompleted “to make” gifts.  This does happen to me occasionally.  This I'm giving a lot of handmade gifts and so was very firm with myself to start working on them this summer.  Don't beat yourself up if you don't get something finished, maybe it would make a good birthday gift?  I've given people IOU's for handmade things before too.  I've not found anyone who minds.

First Sunday of Advent

The Advent Season is upon us!  We are eagerly awaiting Christmas and the celebration of Jesus' birth and anticipating His triumphant Second Coming.  This is the time of waiting and preparing.  Modern society has forgotten that the Christmas season and celebrating doesn't start until Christmas Eve/Day.   This can partly be blamed on the Protestant Reformation, when the radical Puritans tried to do away with many Christian holy days and seasons.  For a time one could get in serious trouble for making plum pudding!  Luckily the Catholic church and some Reformation churches (like Anglican) preserved the season of Advent.  Some stricter/more conservative Christians actually treat this time as a little Lent with fasting.

I wonder if a lot of the depression at this time of year is caused by the over-secularization/hype that has become Advent/Christmas.  If people took the time to prepare and look inside themselves, instead of being swept up in the consumer mindset, would they be happier?  Christmas isn't just one day and then disappointment and let down.  It starts now with Advent and doesn't end until Epiphany -the Twelve Days of Christmas.  It's time society started to slow down and enjoy the seasons and cycles of the earth.  The Christmas season isn't just a time to 'get through', it's a time to be enjoyed and savoured.

This Sunday I get out my Advent wreath and we light the first candle.  When I was a child at church the Advent candles were all purple (except for the Christ candle), now churches use 3 purple and a rose. At home we have beeswax.  I prefer natural candles and just love the smell of beeswax.



Today we light the first candle.  The Candle of Prophecy/Hope.

Everything is white



These pictures were taken just looking outside our front door.  Sorry the wind was to cold to try and go down the shore just yet.  I will see if I can take some more later when I am brave enough to venture into winter.

Brownies

Sign of a successful brownie baking afternoon  :)
Andrew walking back from the plant after getting the wood stove going

Looking from our shore towards King's Point Bluff

Looking at our little shelter and boat

The nets

Looking at the Processing Plant from the road
Someone let the sugar fairies loose.  Oh no, let me look again....  It's snow.
First real snow fall.  Today it is snow squalls, wind and lots of snow accumulation.  I guess the skis will be getting cleaned and waxed up this weekend.  The boys coach already sent out an e-mail asking for everyone to bring their skis next practice. 
This wind though is not cooperating.  It could be going up to 80km/h today and throw in some snow and driving will be interesting.  Fishing is right out of the question and may be for the rest of the weekend. 
Saw the first plow on the reserve drive by.  Most other band vehicles don't have their plows on yet.  I think this snuck up on some people.  It kinda caught us for we still have 5 cords of wood to stack.  After the rain yesterday and now snow today, this chore has just become a bit more than just exercise. 
I guess there is no complaining about it though.  We live in Canada and in a snow belt area so it shouldn't be such a surprise.  We are usually the crazy ones looking for sweaters in August knowing by November they will be hard to find.  Just the first real snow storm is a bit of sigh.  Makes you double check the list of things like the emergency kit for the van, does everyone have winter wear, is the pantry stocked and extra gas for the generators.  And oh yeah, where are the shovels? 
Just asked Andrew a stupid question.  Why do fish have nostrils? 
Leave you with that thought.

Thanksgiving 2011

Boy! was I thankful today when our cable tv/internet/digital phone suddenly got fixed. We'd been without all three services since Monday night because of the extreme cold arctic blast cold snap in the Pacific Northwest! This 3-day "famine" caused me to learn how to use my iPhone properly! I didn't figure out how to post blogs, but did figure out how to read them on my iPhone! Luckily we only suffered a short power outage, so I was able to charge up my iPhone OK.

It seems that several 150-foot tall pine trees in a nearby little wood were uprooted, literally, by ferocious winds on Monday night and crashed down, causing all the cable company lines to be severed!

I'm thankful for my many blessings on this Thanksgiving Day, but the telly and internet coming back on at last was a really nice touch!



Today's marine weather says this is a 35 knot southeast wind.  A big red banner across the top of the page saying Gale Warning in Effect.  That means there is a 70 km/h wind out there right now.  When I took these pictures at our shore just minutes ago it was enough to give me an ice cream headache walking into the wind. 
Then tomorrow this wind is going to increase to 40 knot winds from the southeast.  80km/h winds.  With snow squalls and could get 10-15cm of the white stuff tomorrow.  (Possible first snow day for the boys) 
I guess no fishing for the next couple of days....
These conditions are being very unreasonable.
Andrew is off to Dufferin Market today.  Hopefully the snow stays clear until he makes it home tonight.  He has some fresh with him.  But we have another weekend off. 
We have 5 cords of wood to stack before to much snow falls.  When the wood gets covered in snow it really is no fun.  Happened a couple of years ago and the wood was frozen together and we spent most the time just trying to loosen the logs. 
I am going to work on updating the blog today.  Normally I don't have so much time to adjust and move things around on the blog but it may help to pass the time on this miserable, cold, blustery day. 
We took Ella to Scarborough last weekend.  Grandma, Ella, Auntie Belinda, Uncle Stefan (who came back from US shopping early) and I headed downtown to attend the 106th (I think) Toronto Santa Claus Parade.   We had a great location -right out front of Auntie Belinda's office building (corner of Yonge and Adelaide).  Auntie Belinda had picked up a security pass so that we could have easy access to a bathroom.  This was Ella's first Toronto parade.  I've been a few times (we lived in TO till I was 3). 

It was rather cold and very windy, but luckily we didn't get rained or snowed on.  We had so much fun!!  Uncle Stefan spoiled Ella by buying her reindeer antlers, jingle bells, candy floss, and hot co co (as Ella says).  He bought Momma a coke too  :)  It was funny seeing the kids playing in the middle of Yonge Street.  Usually you are taking your life into your hands crossing the street without the light.

The start of the parade was a pipe band of course.  Ella jumped up and was dancing along.  I think she danced with every band.  It was very cute, you could tell her feet wanted to do her highland steps, but she just doesn't know them yet!




The floats were great.  So much better in person than on tv.  Ella was disappointed because they don't throw candy like at the Cobden parade. 
Here's another site I didn't expect to see on Yonge street.  A John Deere tractor!!  Daddy was disappointed there wasn't an International one too.

The parade was very long, but really really fun.  The crowd was good.  Lots of people but not too many people.  Ella had great fun.  The family beside us had 4 girls.  They let Ella play with their sidewalk chalk.  Ella has always wanted to use sidewalk chalk, but we don't have any pavement or cement.  Not even Grandma's house in Beachburg. 


 Ella's elf friend Merry arrived last night.  She was so excited.  Now she's going to try to be extra good  :)

Will be at Dufferin Grove Tomorrow

We will have smoked fish.  Just not a lot of it.  We have more honey garlic, cajun and tandoori than the regular smoked. 
We will also have fresh whitefish.  Again, not alot but hopefully enough. 
Sorry, but tonight I am tuckered out.  Out of practice doing fresh.....
See you tomorrow at market.

Finally, a post just about my life.  :-)  About time, hey?

Frankly, after reading so many blogs by Mommies with babies and people writing books and pastors in cities with similar weather to here, I have to think for a moment what it means to be living my life, and what I should say about it.  I mean really, we get so used to our own lives that I think we don't often really think about what's going on.  At least, that's how it can get for me.

Here at my house, there has been a lot of baking, a lot of biology, a lot of books about bellies and birth and babies and much boiled water for hot water bottles. (and many other things that begin with b that are slightly less exciting, like brains and blankets and bananas.  I'm sure I could think of more! :-P )  It's cold!  The hot water bottle has been especially comforting!  In the past few days we've gotten a good 6 inches of snow, which is a lot for Vancouver Island, especially this early in the winter, and actually I suppose it's still fall.  This has given way to much shoveling and sore backs, but it just makes me all the more grateful to the Lord that He has given us just a short time on this earth.  Also a good reminder to be praying for and actively witnessing to the lost. (!!!)

I could yak about Biology, as it takes up most of my days, but honestly, I spend so much time thinking about cells and diffusion and osmosis and endoplasmic reticulum and osmotic pressure and eukaryotes vs. prokaryotes and seeing lots of words that Microsoft Word thinks aren't real words, that I'd rather not expend myself too much with telling you all about it.  Many of you have done high school Biology, I'm sure.  Biology 12.  That's all I need say.  :-D

Also, my Mum and I have been doing a bit more research on what Compassion International (and Canada) is doing, and I must say, I'm really impressed, and humbled.  We've sponsored children through Compassion for years now, but I never really saw the scope of it all.  As we as a family try to scale down our spending, we're hoping to be able to sponsor a little girl as well as the little boy we sponsor, and are rather excited about the opportunity.  It's really special.  This is something that is literally releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name!  Amazing stuff.

So, with that, I'll head back to my biological world and hope to see you all soon,
Lots of love and hugs,
Sheila

Ginny's not doing a Yarn Along this week, but I thought I'd share any way.  We got in some new Christmas books for Ella.  I look forward to reading them with Ella.  I love the "Little House" books and was happy to find these "My First" books.

One of the great things of traveling back to Bowmanville/Toronto is the fact that I get so much knitting time.  I've got about half of my felted purse/bag done.   I'm very excited to get it finished and then felted.  Any extra wool will become felted mittens.

Just a bit-a-fun

It is such a good idea to play with techniques at the postcard-sized level.
This was for a workshop at the studio this week - continuing with cable and machine-made cords.
What more can I say...



The Contextural show and sale on Saturday went really well.  Not only was it positively buzzing it also brought in lots of funds and everyone enjoyed the chilli and punch/wine/coffee +/- Bailey's.... do I need an apostrophe there?
We had wall pieces, screen prints, cards and labels, books, natural dye, devore, necklaces, felt, shibori, bags, belts, scarves, hats, and oh so much more... Congratulations to everyone who took part.  And thanks to those who supported us all.

I need to say a special thanks to those who looked after my table at the break up of the show... much appreciated.


 The nerve centres - Sales counter!
And kitchen - yum!

 And here are some of the items I put up for sale:-




We will be at Dufferin Grove this week.  With only smoked though.  These winds have been a pain and can't even ask for a compromise with it. 
Wychwood's market we won't be able to make it down.  The marine weather for southern Georgian Bay is bad today, really bad tomorrow and then just repeat horrible over and over for the following days.  Why do I even bother looking at the forecast? 
I sit here in the silent processing plant and have fond memories of music playing, employees talking and laughing.  The fish being cut up, pin boned and washed with care.  The water running in the back ground and the faint aroma of fresh fish and bleach in the air.  I miss those days but they will return once this wind cuts it out.  Till then, we will continue puttering away getting ready for winter.  The list of things to do continues to grow even though we scratch things off the list regularly.  The challenges of a Georgian Bay Fisherman.

Christmas Countdown -Week Five

We're finally home from Bowmanville.  The last 3 hours of the drive was through fog -ugh!
We're working in the main living/family room this week.
To Do This Week:
  • Vacuum everywhere. Especially under chesterfield cushions.
  • Clean light fixtures.
  • Wash windows.
  • Clean behind heavy furniture before decorating.
  • Dust thoroughly
  • Write and address one-fifth of the Christmas card list.
  • Complete one-fourth of the “to make” list.
  • Fill out a holiday menu planner form for each remaining holiday meal.
  • Inventory the freezer, and record its contents on the freezer inventory form. Plan to eat from the freezer this week and next to make room for holiday meals and goodies. Use food budget savings to stock up on holiday staples.
  • Start planning holiday baking and be alert to supermarket specials. Try to buy non-perishable holiday foods this week and next.
  • Do a mini freezer cooking session to put 5 to 10 premade entrees into the freezer. Use these meals on busy December evenings.
  • Prepare for drop-in visitors. Have holiday treats ready.
To Buy This Week:
  • Purchase one-fifth of all Christmas gifts.
  • Purchase non-perishable holiday foods.
Forms for this week:
Holiday Menu for Christmas Eve
Fix our family favorites; this is not the time to experiment on them!
Put the ingredients on my shopping list. Mark them off as I have pre-purchased these items.
Meat :
Salads:

Side Dishes:
Bread:
Desserts:
Beverages:
Holiday Breakfast
Keep it simple and something I can make ahead
Entrée:
Side dish:
Fruit:
Juice:
Beverages:


Party Planner Forms
Party Budget:
Food and Beverages: Budget: Cost: Total:
       
       
       
       
       
Subtotals:      
       
Decotations and Supplies: Budget: Cost: Total:
Invitations      
Postage for invitations      
       
       
       
       
Subtotals:      
       
Entertainment and Bar:      
       
       
       
Subtotals:      
Grand Totals:      
Party Guest List
Guest: Phone: Yes No Attended
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
Party Menu Planner
Occasion:
Date:
Time:
Occasion:
Menu:
Appetizers:  
   
   
Relish:  
Meat:  
Salads:  
   
Side Dishes:  
   
   
Bread:  
Desserts:  
   
Beverages: Holiday Baking Planner (for example)

Recipe Ingredients Dozens Needed Storage
Chocolate Penguins 1 1/2c butter, 2 1/2c icing sugar 2 eggs, cinnamon 6 Freezer
Moravian Cookies Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, 1/2c molasses 12 Wrapped
Sugar Cookies 1lb butter, 2 eggs 11 Wrapped
Shortbread 1lb butter, 1c cornstarch, 1c icing sugar 17 Wrapped
Zimtsterne 2c blanched almonds, 2+c icing sugar, 2 egg whites, cinnamon   Wrapped
Gingerbread People Ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, butter, ½ c molasses, 1 egg 7 Wrapped
Spritz 1c blanched almond slices, 1lb butter, 2 egg, almond extract 8 Wrapped
Christmas cake 1c butter, ½ c corn syrup, 4 eggs, 1/4c lemon peel, ½ c citron, ¼ c orange peel, ½ c glace cherries, ½ c nuts, 1 c currants    
       
       

These are colored photographs I just shot on this snowy November day. It's quite unusual to have snow this early in the winter season here next to the Puget Sound waters. But who can resist freshly fallen snow on a fir tree in the garden? The view across Gig Harbor is dark, mysterious and cold! Because we are so close to the water, the snow won't stick for very long and the local weather forecasters have told us that by Thursday - Thanksgiving Day - we should have a smidge of sunshine and rain. Much more normal for this time of year.

It seems to me that folks who live in places that have changes of seasons are more likely to be obsessed with The Weather. I don't remember as much talk about The Weather, in general, when I lived in southern California.

I do remember receiving long distance phone calls from family overseas, mostly British relatives, whose first question would be "What's the weather like where you are?" followed closely by "What time is it there?" What I'm trying to say is that it's not just a British thing to be obsessed with the weather -- especially when the weather is less than warm and sunny.

Won't be down to Wychwood...Sorry I didn't post earlier

Well the winds did and still are continuing.  We keep hoping to wake up one morning and not to hear it but that won't be happening this weekend. 
We have chores around the house to do today and tomorrow so we should be able to keep busy.  Stacking firewood and making and pouring cement should keep us active for the day.  We are trying to beat the snow for we know we had to stack wood before with snow and ice all over the piles and it was really miserable. 
I best go and find something warm and filling to eat before going out and working outside for the day.  Hope everyone has a good weekend.

Bellies and Babies... so perfect.


Birth.  It is why I'm doing what I'm doing, and the more I think about it, the more astounded I am at the beauty of how God brings babies into this world.  Beautiful, natural, perfect... like sparkles in bubbles.  I realize that this is an ideal image of birth, and that for many women it hurts a lot, and there are certainly moments in labour that seem anything from sparkly, but these moments, to me, do not demonstrate anything bad, but only a strength and power and majesty that is unequaled anywhere else!

Most people aren't quite as enamoured with birth as I am, but hear me out.  :-)  I plan to love it for my entire life, and I'm pouring all my time and everything into this process, so I'm pretty excited!  Oh, the opportunities that the Lord will provide through this marvelous venue!  To provide a safe and beautiful birth for every mother is my dream.

How possible is this?  It isn't, in a fallen world, but look.  There are babies.  That is enough.  See their glowing eyes, and their little fingers, and tell me, is that not miracle enough?  In the midst of that gurgling child is a perfect picture of what God wanted for us.  His plan is perfect.

In a few months time, I'll be a certified doula.  God willing, in 5 1/2 years, I'll be a midwife!  Oh, the things that God has done and will do!

Bellies... and babies.

Hugs,
Sheila

Yarn Along -3

This is the third week over at Ginny's Small Things.  I've been busy this week and don't have anything too exciting to share with you all.  I haven't even started last week's book.  This week I'm sharing one of Ella's favourites.  It's an Usborne, Farmyard Tales.  I like it because it's much like home.  I'm working on Ella's scarf, it's Marble DK in acrylic (shudder).  I will likely make the scarf a Moebius, they just fit so nicely and don't "fall off" as easily as a tied scarf.

Wind is disrupting us again

Now I feel like a broken record player.  We won't be down to Dufferin this week and Saturday's Wychwoods is up in the air.  Checked the marine weather this morning just to see the red banner across the top again saying Gale Warning.  Went one week without seeing that but it is back again.  I guess we should feel not so bad for we did one full week. 
Not much else to share.  We have snow in our forecast by end of the week.  We are busy just trying to keep busy.  Cleaned up the yard, cleaned up Andrew's work area, cleaned (sort of) our storage area in the plant and made brines for imaginary fish.  The "To Do List" is shrinking but we look around and we can add a dozen other things.  Boys are busy stacking firewood and their dry land ski training starts tonight. 
We wish this weather would give us a break for we would love to go fishing. 
Ava Fionna Fuller

 .... Angela .   From the other side of the world she called it although Crystal claims she stole it. (read the comments)  And what did she win for her amazing talent of being able to see in to the future? (being incredibly flukey?) 



Did I not tell you the winner would receive an "awesome" prize?

Congratulations Angela on your win, and Crystal if you send me your address, I have a consolation prize for you.
  

That Flinger of the Stars!



Today my message is simple.  If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, and you have chosen to surrender to Him, and follow this which seems so totally unconventional to humanity, the Creator of the universe dwells in the tabernacle of your heart.

Doesn't that just blow your mind?  I know it seems crazy, but those hands that gently placed each star in their perfect, rapturous, rumbling glory work in your heart, molding it each day to be more like His.  Those eyes that looked into nothing and said "Let there be light!" and saw it, they see you, in your nothingness, and long to make light out of you.  The feet that walked Israel, and then were bloodied for your sins, they stand in your life, solidly, walking alongside you.  His arms, so strong, that wrought fantastic carpentry, and also moved to show the first man out of His exquisite masterpiece of a garden, they hold you closely, tightly, gently.

Are you not taken aback?  For me, it makes me almost want to cry, for the number of times, just today, that I have been impatient, or unwilling to listen, stubborn to learn, to grow, to accept His peace, or say the words I was supposed to.  If those hands, those feet, those eyes and arms are at work in my life, who am I to turn away, shoving His omnipotence into the darkest corner of my life?  I am no one.

Yet I am someone, because I have been chosen as His heir.  I am His son.  I am His masterpiece, even though I have broken my own glass, my own frame, and chosen to jump off the nail He so carefully hung me from, crashing my being into the hard, damp floor.  But His glue mends all things, and makes me clean and new again.  His life makes all things new again.  His life can make you new again, if you aren't yet, too.  And if you are, He wants to remind you of that.

That Creator of the universe, that Flinger of the stars, that Rocker of the cradle.

He loves you.

Sheila

Supper


Colin wanted me to share tonight's supper with you all today.  Even though Ella was at Grandma's and it was just Colin and I, I put one of my lovely local chickens in the oven.  I must say I do 'do' roasts well  :)  I also love my gas stove.  I cooked this almost 7lb chicken in only 2 1/2 hours instead of the 3 1/2 it takes according to the recipes.

This is Ella's latest masterpiece.  It's a flower fairy.  She's quite proud of her drawing.  Some days she gets quite frustrated with herself when she draws/colours.  Ella is quite the perfectionist and expects her drawings to look like Momma's.  I try telling her I've had nearly 40 years of practice, but that doesn't help much.  Ella gets frustrated very easily, we really need to work on her patience.
Our Countdown continues.  Some years I do better at the deep cleaning than others.  This is one of the "clean enough" years I think.  We have been fighting chest colds since just about the end of August.  No one feels completely well.  This is the great part of having lists.  I can prioritize what actually needs to be done and the stuff that would be nice to be done.  Starting early also means that I have time to do some extra cleaning in December if I want/have time.  There is no great rush.
To Do This Week:
Zone 4: Master Bedroom
  • Flannel Sheets
  • Sweep under bed completely.
  • Wash windows.
  • Polish silver things.
  • Dust furniture
  • Tidy closet
  • Write and address one-fifth of the Christmas card list.
  • Complete one-fourth of gifts to make this week.
To Buy This Week:

  • Continue Christmas gift shopping. Purchase one-fifth of the master shopping list.
  • Purchase new holiday decor items.

TABLE TALK


When I go to these conferences with Ian held at the five star hotels, I invariably get seated next to some high powered professional woman at dinner.   It all goes very nicely at first ( I am pretty good at the small talk)  but then comes the dreaded question "What do you do for a living?"  As soon as I say I was a stay at home mom to five kids there's a visible change in my new table friend.  Eyes widen, there's a slight shake of the head in disbelief and the conversation usually pretty much ends right there.

I'm not going to lie, it makes me mad.  I chose to stay at home to raise my children not because I wasn't capable of doing anything else.  I loved being at home with my kids, I found it more fulfilling, challenging, and rewarding than any career I could ever have aspired to.  I couldn't for a second imagine doing anything else and I hate the assumption that because I stayed at home to raise my children, I am of lesser intelligence.

I have decided that the next time I find myself in this situation I am going to come up with something witty to say that will leave my new table friend at a loss for words.

"And what do you do for a living?"

"I'm a writer"

"Oh really?" (I can imagine their interest being piqued)

"Yes" I will answer casually.

"What do you write?"

"Mostly cheques, some emails and I have a blog."


I finished the re-sized shrug.  It fits Ella beautifully.  I even have enough yarn leftover to make a smaller size to sell on OVFC this month.  Though for some reason my knitted stuff doesn't sell well.  I think people up here just want cheap not good.
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