Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Counting the Days

November in our parts was particularly grey and wet - 27 days included rain; most days saw little or no sunshine. How different December is: clear days when the sun slants low across the garden to brighten home and heart. 

I went out with my camera this week after school to capture a bit of the light. How surprised I was to see this Mountain Bluet (centaurea montana) with a new bloom. I gave the plant a little cheer and praised it for being so stalwart. 

Most of the hydrangea blossoms have faded to papery brown, but a little pale blue remains here and there.

From our breakfast table we look out over the patio to the garden. I plunked some fir trimmings and a few holly stems into a pot, and placed it on the table for a bit of Christmas cheer.

A few people have expressed interest in my grown-up girl's Advent calendar, so here's some information.

For our first child's second Christmas (she was less than 2 months old for her first Christmas), I stitched up an Advent calendar. We were living in a small town on the edge of the Amazon jungle and I was thinking about how to establish traditions with our little family. It was a simple affair, red cotton with a green print tree appliqued onto it, 24 little red pockets and felt ornaments. I think we used masking tape on the back of the ornaments for the first few years, until we returned to Canada for a visit and I bought some Velcro dots. 

Tim's mother made another Advent calendar, with larger pockets and a sturdy cardboard nativity scene with windows and Bible verses. These calendars played a big part in December. The children (3) took turns opening the window and reading the verse, applying the ornament to the tree, and looking in the pocket for a treat or a note telling of a special activity. This tradition continued until the last child left home.

There is grief when a treasured tradition is outgrown. Tim and I decided that we needed to create new traditions for "just the two of us". My grown-up girl Advent calendar is something I came up with after seeing an idea for a white calendar in Marie Claire Idees magazine. 

It was simple to make - an old picture frame painted white, a cut-to-measure piece of thin plywood covered with suede-like cloth, dates made from stenciled label tags, and upholstery tacks for hanging. The fun part was finding treasures to hang on the calendar. Most of them are visible in the photo, but here's a short summary:

For each Sunday of Advent I created cardstock tags with paper, glitter, and a printed Love, Joy, Hope, Peace. 
Old chandelier crystals
Tiny vintage glass ornaments and some new
Cream-coloured shapes created from a felted sweater and bits of lace and buttons
A tiny beaded angel
A muslin primitive angel
A vintage clip-on earring

I have some other bits and pieces of jewelry that I'm thinking of replacing some of these ornaments with.

Christmas decor is being brought out a little at a time here. How lovely this season is. 

Tell me, have you discarded some traditions and embraced others? 


  1. The advent calendar is so feminine and pretty...our eldest grand daughter Isla would love one of these and she is only 7 but she loves sparkly things.
    Haven't we been fortunate to be enjoying the sunshine this week?

  2. Anonymous5:08 PM

    Lorrie, my children loved their advent calendars. My grandchildren are using one that I had as a child. I love your grown up advent calendar. Very sweet ornaments!

  3. Discard? Alas. I am no good at discarding. What happened to the original?

  4. I love your grown-up girl's advent calendar (both the concept and the name)! I am sure you have fun with this new tradition.

    After the girls have left for their own homes, I plan to discard the tall Christmas tree. I saw a photo in a Country Living magazine years ago with a smaller (but not small) atop a drop leaf table in front of a large window, with presents on the table and in the floor beneath it. I have memorized that photo and plan to recreate it some day. It would not feel at all like a concession.

  5. Lorrie,

    Our weather has been much the same, other than a very windy and cold spell a few days ago. I have an urn on the front porch that I want to decorate for the holidays, but the pansies from September have survived, and I don't have the heart to pull them out! I'm such a softie!

    Your photos are lovely as always, and I'm in awe of your advent calendar. It's very special...glad you keep it going. What a treasure for your whole family.

    Happy Holidays!


  6. We used to do the Bible verses Advents when the kids were young. As they've grown it is hard to find a time to do it. We still are Christ focused but have let that tradition go.

    I like your Grown up girl advent! Very pretty. I agree with you and Tim that its important to have traditions and celebrate just with the two of you!

  7. What beautiful contrast of colour in your first photo :). Advent calendars abound still in this part of the world. Although of the chocolate variety. Glad you’ve had a bit more sun. B x

  8. I love the outdoor greenery decoration. I wonder if the birds will find and eat the holly berries!

  9. Sunny days always lift the spirits - love your grown up girl's Advent calendar. Thank you so much for the comment on my latest post, I really found it most helpful.

  10. I'm a huge fan of your grown-up girl's Advent calendar. Glad that you're finally getting some sunny weather this month.

  11. I love the idea of a grown-up Advent calendar. Perhaps it is one way that I could say on schedule. I seem to be dragging my fee this year.

  12. Oh Lorrie, your grown-up girl's Advent calendar is just so special. What a great idea! I also read your previous post and those baked eggs with white truffle cream sounds sooooo yummy! It's always a pleasure to visit you!

  13. Lorrie - thanks for filling us in on the tradition behind your Grown Up Advent Calendar. It is a touching story and brought tears to my eyes - as we grow into this journey called retirement, there are many adjustments, not the least of which is adult children who may not always be home for the holidays! The decorations on your calendar are so lovely - I like it very much! Have a joyful weekend!

  14. How nice to continue the traditions in old ways and new ways. Christmas is going up slowly here. Hope you have a Merry weekend.

  15. Yes it's sad to see those traditions go--but sometimes they can be revived a bit with grandchildren. I am enjoying the J. Lawson online advent with the kids this year, and sometimes just with myself. Seems the best one yet. Your adult calendar is creative and lovely!

  16. First, I love your advent calendar
    #2 I brought a geranium inside to just let it rest during winter: guess what's blooming!
    #3 Old tradition : eating pizza by the tree when the kids were little, seeing Santa and photos.
    #4 New traditions: GOing to the airport to pick up the kids (adults) for Christmas! Seeing all the decorations outside ohare. Also new: the night parade all lit up in our new town.

  17. So nice to go outside and see some unexpected blooms this time of year! Nature is always so resilient - it's amazing to me. What a charming new tradition you have started with your grown-up girl Advent calendar. I love this! Our family is growing and changing, with new grand-babies and other in-laws, so we have learned to be flexible. One thing I love to do every year is pack a thermos of hot cocoa and drive around with the husband to see the pretty decorations at night. xx K

  18. Wonderful to still see some colour in the garden, we saw a few early snowdrops on our walk earlier in the week, but now they will be covered in snow I expect. I think now there are just the two of us most Christmas traditions have gone except the tree, sending cards and catching up with friends. I spent so many years travelling to parents for Christmas Day that I enjoy now being in my own home:)

  19. I just came in from adding greenery and festive trim to my patio pots. Traditions have definitely come and gone over here (stockings and the live tree are gone), but many others remain. Your advent calendar is lovely.

  20. Your photos are lovely. We've been having a very disappointing winter so far, it is sunny and dry with very little rain. I'm not at all tempted to take my camera for a spin until we get some proper rain. But there is hope. Love your advent calendar!

  21. I so enjoyed the stories of Advent calendars past and think your grown up version is a wonderful way to keep that tradition alive. My Christmas prep has had to take a back seat this week as we've both been struggling with coughs and colds. One bright spot of the week was finding 7 daffodils already out and nodding their heads gently in the breeze!
    Bon dimanche.

  22. I loved the Advent calenders when I was young and then of course did them with my boys as well. How nice that you had hand made ones and do yet again :)

  23. It's wonderful that you've built on this tradition -- keeping the memories associated with the Advent Calendar but changing it in keeping with the new chapter .. building new memories to add (not to substitute) .

  24. Your advent calendars are unique and such a lovely idea! I have enjoyed reading your
    tips for Christmas food too. Sarah x


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