Monday, 30 November 2015

Making an Advent Wreath

Yule wreath

Well life has been hectic recently but we took time off yesterday to make an advent wreath. Just in case you don't know what I am refering to, here's a little bit of history!

The origins of the circular Advent wreath originated with the ancient Celtic people of Germany and Scandanavia, Worship was tied to the rhythm of the Earth and its seasons and the Sun was considered very important. As the days shortened they prayed for it to return .
The center of their rituals was a living wreath or a cartwheel, woven with evergreens which lived through the winter darkness. The wheel symbolized the unending circle of life and the rotation of the seasons. The candles brought light and hope to the darkness. The circular wreath like many pagan customs was absorbed into Christian observances as Christianity spread across Europe.

 The word "Advent" is derived from the Latin word "adventus" ; meaning "coming".

The symbol of the light in the darkness and the rebirth of the Sun made equal sense to symbolise the Son of God bringing light into the world. Apparently the first official use of the wreath in churches was in the early 1880's.

In Christian observance the first candle is of Hope, the second Love, the third Joy, and fourth of Peace. If a fifth candle is used it symbolises the birth of Christ.
Various colour candles are used in different customs.

Pagans also brought in greens, winter berries, seeds, pine cones to represent life carrying on through the darkness to the approaching solstice. It reflects life's timeless connection with the Earth and the Universe, an eternal circle turning through the darkness to the light.

Mistletoe is another plant which was venerated by the Ancient Celts. When it was found growing on an Oak tree it was considered sacred. The Greeks also thought it had mystical powers.

Anyway, DD and I had a lovely time creating our wreath for this year.
 DH brought in some olive branches, they are picking olives at the moment so there were a lot of branches that had been pruned available! 

He exagerated a bit...these are taller than I am!
He also brought in some oak leaves and acorns.

Advent wreath

My DD wove the olive branches into a circular shape and sewed the various parts together. Pine cones, berries and acorns made it look pretty. She added bells and ribbons and some little Christmas Elves. We used a round stainless steel tray as the base for safety.

Yule 2015

Last, but most important the candles. I used 5 of them. Traditionally one is lit on every advent Sunday.


On Christmas day we can light the fifth one as well if used.

Advent wreath

No doubt we will be adding things are they come to mind during this month! I hope to add some Holly and Mistletoe.

This is the wreath my older DD made:

DIY advent wreath

Her handmade door decorations: she embroidered the bow.


Handmade wreath

What are your yuletide traditions? Do you have an Advent wreath?

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Cooking from Scratch Saves Money!

Frugal living

Wow I was really surprised this month! My grocery bill was far less!

In the midst of all my trying to get organised I have been keeping a note of all the money we spend over the last few months, trying to see where it vanishes to! 

Now I have started cooking meals from scratch. No packet food. Just basic ingredients which don't contain any additives. 

Since last year I have been trying to cut down on the salt I consume. 14 months ago my blood pressure was too high and my doctor wanted me to take medicine. I refused and told her I wanted to wait first and corrected my diet. Now a year later my blood pressure is constantly in the normal range. It was possibly just the stressful time I was going through. 

However the thing is that I started reading labels on the things I was buying to cook. Reading labels on cans gives surprising results: canned beans contain both salt and sugar?! I now buy dried beans, soak them overnight and cook them in my slowcooker......yummy and so much cheaper! Win win! 

So many additives and colourants! So much added salt and sugar! 
When I can tomatoes there are only tomatoes in the jar. They keep fine. Why do manufacturers need to add salt and sugar to those? Maybe they think it tastes better? I know my home made ones taste far nicer.

Obviously as I stopped buying prepackaged foods and bought just the basics, my shopping list became so much shorter! I didn't think I was buying many in the first place but it seems I was! As I added up the money spent on food in October it was far less than what I spent in July! 

The nice thing is that I am not spending more time cooking than I did before, if anything less!
 As I prepare a meal I freeze at least one serving so I can use it when I don't have time. That way I always have something ready to cook.
My slowcooker is a great way to prepare tasty food with a minimum of effort and my dearly loved pressure cooker is always handy! 
Now it has become colder I will be making bread again as I did last winter. That should bring a great saving as well.

My family is now eating better. Healthier and more tasty food while actually saving money! 

What suggestions do you have for saving money while still producing tasty family meals?

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Introducing my dolls!

Well I have been asked to share some photos and the story of my dolls. That will take a while as there are so many of them now!

To start here is my Laura Llorona doll. She is a 45 cm doll by Llorens. 

Laura Llorona

 She has beautiful curly blond hair.

Llorens doll

Made in Spain, she has a soft fabric body and Phthalate free vinyl head and limbs. She has beautiful blue sleep eyes.
The fabric extends to the top of her arms and legs similar to my Heidi Ott favorite friends dolls. She can however stand alone.
Her clothes are good quality and well finished. She also has pretty white bloomers. 

I bought her from a Sicilian shop, new in her box.

In this photo I show her with my new Gotz doll who is 46 cms like the American Girl dolls.

Gotz doll

This is my so far un-named Gotz doll from the early 1990's:

Gotz 1991

She has lovely red curls and bright green eyes. As always excellent quality. She has a fabric body similar to the American Girl dolls. Can stand alone.
She is wearing her original outfit here.
I bought her from Germany. I was looking for a red haired doll because my DD said she wanted a doll with red hair and green eyes. The American girl dolls tend to have hair that is more strawberry blonde and not really red.

Now I need to make them some new clothes!

I will be sharing other photos of some of my dolls in future posts. 
Do you like these dolls?

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Black cat and Gotz doll identification!

My black cat just sitting in the evening sun. He is 10 years old now but still a mini black panther! Hates my DH and attacks him. DD took this photo through the window as she is scared of him! He is just a softie really! Absolutely gorgeous!

Black cat

My new doll just arrived yesterday. She is a Gotz 18" doll and has arrived from Germany. Has a body like an American Girl doll. I am trying to find out more about her. She is a cutie with her red red curls and grey-green eyes. Marked "Gotz Puppe" with an artist mark on her neck.

18" Gotz doll

I am working on some new clothes for her. Ideas anyone?.
I would love to hear from anyone who can help identify her. She is wearing her original outfit apparently. It has Gotz embroidered on the front of the dress. She has a cow on a bracelet.
There were so many different dolls produced that it isn't easy to identify them.
The seller sent me a message saying she is a play doll from the 90's. Between 91 and 96 maybe.

Anyone know more?

Monday, 2 November 2015

Knitting while slowcooking!

Something I have wanted for a while is a crock pot or slow cooker.I have read so much about them  but hadn't seen any in the local shops. The ones I saw online were expensive not to mention the shipping costs! Then I found a cheap one at the nearest Lidl shop. DH agreed to buying it although he didn't know what I needed it for. So here is my latest toy!

Lidl slowcooker

It cooks food so well! I tried cooking some of our homegrown beef which, while tasty tends to be very tough. It came out beautifully tender and I didn't even have to keep checking on it! Gives me more knitting time!

Cooking in the slowcooker

 I have been trying out all sorts of things. I soaked some dried beans and put them in it in the morning. They cooked perfectly and I was able to freeze some for quick meals. So many things I am planning on making! DH is very pleased he bought it.

I have been busy knitting as well. I have started working on a counterpane for the doll bed my DD bought me. Based on traditional designs, I have made a mini version of the square. Worked in the round outwards and then grafted together, there is a fair bit of work involved.
I hope to share photos of the bed and the bedding in a future post.

I have also a new pattern being tested. This was something I designed for my DGD. It is similar to one I knit for my DS many many years ago.
Obviously there is a dolly version in progress as well!

I hope to be back soon with other projects.