Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Elf on the Shelf

Does your family have an "Elf on the Shelf"?
This story was written by a mother and daughter, Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell.  You purchase the book and elf in a set.  Once the elf is named by its family (you), it receives its Christmas Magic.  Every day from Thanksgiving (American) until Christmas your families "scout elf" watches over the family seeing who is being naughty and nice and then at night flies back to the North Pole with a first hand report for Santa.  The elf  flies back before morning dawns and hides in a different place each day.  The children have fun looking to see where the elf has hidden that morning.  They are, however, not allowed to touch the elf.  They can talk to him/her and give suggestions for Santa, but must not touch the elf or he/she may loose their magic.  On Christmas Eve the elf listens for Santa's bell that calls all the elves back to the North Pole until next Christmas.

There is a great website HERE where your family can register your elf's name, read more about this tradition, and watch the training video to see how the new elves prepare for this job!

There are all kinds of ideas on pinterest, from very creative parents, showing where their elf has been found in the morning when the children got up!!  Here are a few of my favorites!

This naughty elf drew on the family photograph!!

Snow angel

Roasting Marsh mellows

Someone was busy playing with cars while the family slept!

Fishing in the toilet??
(Notice the goldfish crackers floating!)

This elf replaced all the family pictures with his own!

I think a few children woke up with a Rudolph nose!!  HILARIOUS!

Would your children wake up in the night
 if their nose was being painted?  

My sister, Paula, has been doing this with her daughter for several years.  She didn't purchase this particular book set.  She uses a special elf that our dad bought many years ago.  


  His name is Sebastian. ;0)  Here are some of the ways that my niece has found Sebastian in the morning.

- swinging from the chandelier

- bowling with soup cans and a clementine on the floor of the pantry

-sitting by the nativity scene, with it all rearranged and him holding the baby Jesus

-toilet papered the whole living room, and he was all wound up in the toilet paper

-doing some baking...he was on the kitchen counter with baking supplies and flour all over himself

-on Christmas morning she found him at the computer...sitting on a stack of books so he could reach...and he had typed a letter to her!

Toni @ Design Dazzle has listed no less than 100 ideas of places your children could find their elf in the morning!!!  WOW!!!

What a fun Christmas tradition!


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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Take 5 with Kathy - "Anticipating Christmas..."

I love Christmas! Even more, I love getting ready for it! For the past week or so, I’ve been bringing up box after box (with some help from hubby), bag upon bag, flower arrangements, dragging plastic containers from under the bed, baking Christmas cookies, and decorating the house.

My nativity scene
The first thing I always look for is my nativity set and advent candle wreath. They take priority because for me, Christ is the centre of Christmas. When God sent His one and only Son to be born as a baby in a manger, it was the beginning of His plan to provide salvation for you and me. As I enjoy setting up the crèche and positioning the little figures around the Baby Jesus, I always marvel that God chose such humble surroundings for the birth of the King of kings. Isaiah prophesied of Christ’s coming in chapter 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Since today is the first Sunday of advent, we will be lighting the first candle on my wreath, a special tradition we have observed since my son was a little boy. As we look forward to Christmas day, we will light another candle each Sunday and on Christmas day, the centre Christ candle will be lit. I love this custom as it helps us keep focused on the true meaning of Christmas.

My Christmas village
The second decoration I set up each year is my Christmas village which reminds me of the Victorian era and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I started out with just three buildings over twenty years ago, and every season I have added something new. A few years ago my dad built me a 4’ by 3’ table to house my growing collection and it’s always such fun putting everything together. Perhaps the little girl in me comes alive as I lovingly place each piece and hook up all the lights, including lanterns and the flashing train signals. The train has long since stopped working, but a little imagination brings it to life. Once the New Year comes, I set up my village on the shelves of our entertainment stand as it is too pretty to pack away. There it stays until I get tired of winter somewhere around mid-March.

My winter tree
Of course, I also love my trees. Today I will begin decorating our 7.5 foot living room tree which is sheer enjoyment. It’s always fun unwrapping all the decorations many of which I’ve collected from our travels. My gingerbread tree (which is actually the top of our old tree which near the end was held together with duct tape) sits on a table in our family room and my winter tree (you guessed it – stays up until I get tired of winter) lights up a dark corner in our hallway. There’s also a tree on my front porch, and five small trees that I put in the planter there. Once they are all lit up, it just looks so pretty and festive! Then there are the many snowman ornaments, dolls dressed in winter clothes that I sewed for them, garlands and bows, Christmas platters and mugs, and my winter-theme bathroom decorations. Maybe some people think I go overboard, but it brings me such joy, especially with beautiful Christmas music playing in the background. One of my favourite carols is O Come, O Come Immanuel:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

My Christmas village
As I anticipate Christmas this year, it is a little different now that my son is married. It’s time for some new traditions to be started as well as choosing which ones to hold on to. But the one observance that will never grow old and will always remain central is the reading of the Christmas story from Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-20.


Let’s keep Christ the centre of Christmas!

Until next Sunday,



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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Guest Post by Paula - Cranberry Cheesecake

This is our fourth and final Cranberry Recipe!  The month of November has gone by fast, but we are going out with a bang!  A perfect Holiday recipe...Cranberry Cheesecake!

I'm not sure where my mom got this recipe.  I believe she tore it out of a magazine, but I do remember the first Christmas she made it...YUM!
Cranberry Cheesecake is a perfect combination. Yes, I love chocolate cheesecake and cherry cheesecake, but nothing cuts through that baked cheesecake richness better then the tartness of a bite of cranberry. 

Cranberry Cheesecake

1 Cup graham crumbs
1/4 Cup melted butter
3 - 250 g pkgs of cream cheese (softened)
3/4 Cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
4 eggs
3/4 Cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract (due to nut allergies in the family I just add more vanilla)
1 Cup chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen)
Combine crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of 9 inch springform pan.
Bake at 325 F for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and set to cool.
Increase oven temperature to 400 F.
Combine cream cheese, sugar and four, mixing at medium speed until well blended.
Blend in eggs one at a time; then add sour cream and flavorings.
Stir in cranberries and pour over crust.
Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 325 F and continue to bake for 1 hour
Remove cake from oven, run knife around edge of cake, allow to cool in pan.
Cranberry Glaze:
Combine 1 Cup cranberry juice and 1 Tbsp of corn starch in saucepan,  Cook until thickened.  Spoon a thin layer over top of cake that has cooled down for about 20 min; let sauce stand for 10 minutes then spoon remaining sauce over top( I find I don't use all of this sauce)
Refrigerate several hours before serving.

Oh, and yes, I know there are fancy ways to bake a cheesecake so that it does not crack, but hey, I'm a country gal and the cracks don't bother me one little bit :o)

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Pinning Cranberry Inspiration

While we are enjoying cranberries this month at Take Six, I wanted to gather some ideas for decorating with them.  They are beautiful, and such a festive color.  Just perfect for decorating at Christmas, and you all know what one month from tonight is!!!



I love decorating with cranberries for Christmas...
hope you have been inspired to do the same! 


Tomorrow will be our last Cranberry Month Recipe!
It is one you won't want to miss!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Place Card Holders

This Spring I bought an old mirror at a flea market along side of the road.  Two old white porcelain door knobs were screwed onto the bottom of it.  I think it must have been leaning up against something at it's former home.  Anyway...I knew the door knobs would be coming off, but I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them.  Then I remembered that somewhere online, quite some time ago, I saw the idea to use knobs to hold a card.  It could be a place card, a card on a buffet table with the name of the dish being served, a menu card, to display special cards given as gifts, or a collection of vintage post cards.  It really is up to your imagination.

I simply wrapped some wire around a large permanent marker to make the slot for the card, and then twisted the two ends together all the way down.  I put some glue into the hole on the door knob (hubby removed the big screws), and stuck the wire down in the hole.  I left it to try for 24 hours.

Then they needed some simple "dressing up".  The colors of ribbon can be as interchangeable as the colors of your table and dishes.  

Before I could even get this post ready, I saw another idea for using S & P shakers for the same job!  Now if the color of my S & P shakers bothers you, you can imagine them to be a bright shiny silver.  I'm sure they were at some point in time.  However, I kind of like the...shall we say "tarnished look".  Oh yeah, definitely tarnished!!!

I made the wire card holder the same as the one for the door knob.  Then I poked both ends of the wire into a hole on the top of the S & P shaker and twisted them together inside the cap.  

A great way to dress up your table for the holidays!

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Take 5 with Kathy - "We will not forget..." (Part 3)

While we usually do a good job of remembering and honouring our fallen soldiers, veterans, victims of holocausts, and the brave military personnel currently serving to maintain our rights and freedoms, there are other innocent and more easily forgotten individuals who suffer during war and civil unrest.

In the third and final article in this blog series, I want to focus on one person who experienced first-hand how the ravages of war affected some families.
Dad, on the right, with his brother

Born in 1928, this boy grew up in the suburbs of London, England. The reality of war was far from his thoughts as he and his older brother played with their friends and attended school. His father earned a modest living as a bus conductor/driver and his mother was a very jolly person who loved music.

His idyllic and innocent childhood was about to be shattered, however, as World War II edged closer and became more threatening. He has recollections of toting a gas mask wherever he went, practicing bombing drills, seeing a large truck which they would fill with tear gas so you could enter and test if your gas mask was working properly, and spending a night in an air raid shelter. As his parents became increasingly worried for their children’s safety, this boy was among thousands of British children who were sent to live in the countryside. Parents anxiously said good-bye entrusting their precious offspring to strangers in an effort to spare them from bombing raids. I can’t imagine being one of those mothers making that heart-wrenching decision when all I longed to do was hold them closer to my heart!

Two years ago, my dad looked closely at the Walter Campbell painting that adorns my family room each winter. “I remember the house we lived in out in the country,” he remarked, “It was much like this one with a coach house on the side. We lived with a doctor.”

After almost seventy years, this memory was voiced and I began learning more about what he recalled from those years. It really wasn’t until my son and niece began asking their grandfather questions about his background for their school projects that my sister and I discovered more of his story. It was just something he had discussed very little, as is common among many other children who survived the war.

Dad and his brother with others waiting to board ship
As the war became increasingly menacing to British citizens, Canada was one country which opened its doors to receive thousands of British “Guest Children” under a program sponsored by the British government. Thinking the war wouldn’t last much longer, the plan was to house these children temporarily in a safer country and bring them back home after the war. It would be five long years before that would be possible.

The Oronsay which brought Dad to Canada
In August, 1940, my father and uncle boarded the P&O ship, Oronsay, and began the treacherous nine-day journey to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Allowed only one suitcase, my father brought only two toys – a metal airplane and anti-aircraft gun. Last year I included these with pictures and other mementos in a glass display case for his Christmas present. Travelling in a convoy to try and avoid attack from German U-boats, my dad’s ship arrived safely at Pier 21 in Halifax on August 6, 1940. Other children, tragically, were killed when their ship was sunk by a torpedo. The program was cancelled shortly thereafter.

Dad in front of Pier 21 today
My father’s memories of arriving at Pier 21, which was recently named the Canadian Museum of Immigration, is of the many people on the dock below waving and throwing pennies up to him and the other children. A few years ago when Pier 21 first opened, we visited with my dad. It was very nostalgic and moving for him, especially when he viewed the encased items once belonging to British guest children.

We thank the Lord that my dad and uncle were placed with a kind widow lady who cared for them. Many children, sadly, were not well looked after and some were abused. By the time the war ended, both boys had grown up and decided to remain in Canada. Later, their parents joined them here but since they both died when I was young I don’t remember them.

I’m so glad and proud that my father has this heritage to pass along to us. More importantly, he has passed on his decision to follow and serve his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. That’s the greatest gift he gave to us and his grandchildren. I’m thankful for those who welcomed him to this country and shared their lives with him.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

Until next Sunday,


P.S. Thanks for letting me be a little more long-winded this time, but I’ve longed to write this story for some time. I would also be interested in hearing stories of other British guest children if you know any.  (If you would like, you can read Part 1 HERE, and Part 2 HERE)

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cranberry Month - Recipe #3

Our third Cranberry Recipe is perfect as an early morning "wake up call", as a warm treat on a cold evening, or at any time in between.  

Warm Cranberry Wassail

1- 64 oz or 2 litre bottle of  cranberry cocktail
2 1/2 C of apple juice
1/4 C sugar (optional)
3 - 3 inch cinnamon sticks
1 tsp whole allspice (I had ground allspice so I put in 1/2 tsp as it would really permeate the juice)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
orange slices, cranberries and whole cloves for garnish, if you wish.

Combine all the ingredients, except garnish, in a saucepan. Heat to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Strain to remove spices and serve.

If you were making this to serve a large group, or would like to have it hot for an extended time, it could easily be made in the crock pot well in advance.  If you are fortunate enough to have all whole spices then I would suggest wrapping the allspice and cinnamon sticks in cheese cloth and tossing them in that way, it would be easy to grab out once the cranberry juice is nicely infused, and yet you can keep the wassail warm without it getting stronger in flavor.

Recipe from oceanspray.com

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Give Thanks

Today I am excited to share with you a Thanksgiving tablescape.  For our (Canadian) Thanksgiving, in October, we had a gathering with my husbands family at our spot in the country.  You can see that table HERE.  It was a casual outdoor tablescape on a gorgeous warm fall day.  To wish my family and friends in the US a Happy (American) Thanksgiving I have dressed it up a bit!!


I love to use lots of natural elements in my fall decorating.  The dining room table is no exception.  My new brown plates that I bought for a song this summer, were the perfect color, and I continued that color theme throughout the table.  



Does this napkin fold remind you of any Thanksgiving symbol?  Did you say a turkey with his feathers spread out as he struts around the farmyard?  You would be correct!  Follow the easy step by step directions to fold your napkins this way HERE.


This summer as I was poking around an antique store in an old barn in Maine, I spotted this wooden box.  Knowing it would be a perfect base for a Thanksgiving centerpiece, I brought it home!



Tip:  If you want a particular colored candle for a tablescape (like brown), and you don't want to make a trip to Walmart, just paint them.  ;0)





I borrowed my sisters brown transfer ware pitcher and small bowls for this table.  Transfer ware is such a weakness of mine.  Blue, brown, red, green, purple, it really doesn't matter to me.  I love it all!!



I found my turkey plates a couple years ago at Home Sense.  I need a few more of the dinner plate size, so I am always on the lookout.


This little turkey sits at one of the pilgrims feet.  They belong to my sister as well.  Beautiful!!


My grandmother gave me this tea pot many years ago!  My crocheted "drip preventer" was made by dad.  He was a fabulous crocheter.  I am blessed to have a table cloth made by his hands as well.




"Enter His gates with Thanksgiving, and His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him; bless His name."
                                                                                                          Psalm 100:4




Proclamation 2373 - Thanksgiving Day

"I, Franklin D. Roosevelt,President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Thursday, the twenty-third of November, 1939, as a day of general thanksgiving.
More than. three centuries ago at the season of the gathering in of the harvest, the Pilgrims humbly paused in their work and gave thanks to God for the preservation of their community and for the abundant yield of the soil. A century and a half later, after the new Nation had been formed, and the charter of government, the Constitution of the Republic, had received the assent of the States, President Washington and his successors invited the people of the Nation to lay down their tasks one day in the year and give thanks for the blessings that had been granted them by Divine Providence. It is fitting that we should continue this hallowed custom and select a day in 1939 to be dedicated to reverent thoughts of thanksgiving.
Our Nation has gone steadily forward in the application of democratic processes to economic and social problems. We have faced the specters of business depression, of unemployment, and of widespread agricultural distress, and our positive efforts to alleviate these conditions have met with heartening results. We have also been permitted to see the fruition of measures which we have undertaken in the realms of health, social welfare, and the conservation of resources. As a Nation we are deeply grateful that in a world of turmoil we are at peace with all countries, and we especially rejoice in the strengthened bonds of our friendship with the other peoples of the Western Hemisphere.
Let us, on the day set aside for this purpose, give thanks to the Ruler of the Universe for the strength which He has vouchsafed us to carry on our daily labors and for the hope that lives within us of the coming of a day when peace and the productive activities of peace shall reign on every continent."

Franklin D. Roosevelt

October 31, 1939

Wishing all our family and friends in the United States a blessed Thanksgiving!

All photos courtesy of Nicole Payzant Photography

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