Thursday, 27 December 2012

Rounding things up

We are taking two weeks off from lessons so while Tiger spent some time writing Thank-you letters to various people,

I did some 'housekeeping' of the art work Tiger has done so far for Year 3 autumn term (September to November 2012).

This post is linked up to:
1) Look What We Did: December Link-Up 
2) All Year Round Blog Carnival: Winter

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas Lunch

The Christmas Lunch is perhaps the most important meal in the whole year.  Much effort is put into preparing it.  Looking at the supermarket shelves in December, there seems to be a whole industry built around the Christmas Lunch.  So what exactly is it?  As far as I can tell, it seems to be a hugely accesorised Sunday Roast.

This year, our Christmas Lunch menu is as follows:
  • Turkey with spiced butter and roasted shallot and sherry gravy
  • Roasted root vegetables with maple syrup
  • Brussels sprouts with chestnuts and breadcrumbs
  • Chestnut and sultana stuffing with sage and thyme
  • Roast potatoes with Parmesan

When put on individual plates, the meal looks less intimidating.

For dessert, we have Apple Dessert Cake instead of the traditional Christmas cake.  It was served warm with ice cream.

It has been a quiet, relaxing (for the boys) day for us,  Just enjoying each other's company and the good food that will last us for the rest of the week.

Hope everyone has had a marvellous day, and are looking forward to a fantastic new year!

This post is linked up to:
1) Look What We Did: December Link-Up 
2) All Year Round Blog Carnival: Winter
3) Hip Homeschool Hop - 12/25/12

Monday, 24 December 2012

Advent: At the Christmas Fair

Instead of going to a Christmas Market this year, we went to the Winter Wonderland this year to have a feel of the Christmas atmosphere with the crowd.

It was an enormous fair with numerous food stalls, a Christmas market, and many fairground rides.

It was packed when we were there.  Entry to the park was free so there were many people just spending time there with friends and family.

Most of the rides looked very well-built and well managed at this fair so the boys decided that they would go on a few.

Tiger seems to have developed an apetitie for roller coasters since our visit to Legoland.  Luckily Tortoise was there to take the rides with him, for I can only manage the "baby rides" at Legoland.  You certainly won't see me going on any of the wild rides like this:

While the boys were getting their adrenaline pumped up, I enjoyed myself with some traditional Christmas fod: mince pies and mulled wine.  Speaking of which, our mince pies, made with our very own homemade mincemeat, are ready for Father Christmas tonight.  They are not much to look at -- especially when I could not find my star-shaped cookie cutter -- but they sure taste good.  I made a total of 36 and one-third were eaten within two hours.

We've done our advent activities and read Christmas books.

 We're good to go for tomorrow.  Our little family wishes everyone have a peaceful and joyous Christmas!

This post is linked up to:
1) Look What We Did: December Link-Up 
2) All Year Round Blog Carnival: Winter

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Advent: The Nativity in art and history

This year we decided to learn more about the sources of some of the festivals that we celebrate. 

We looked at how the Christmas story has been presented through the ages (most prominently during the Renaissance period) through great art, by looking at the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art online, as well as by taking the Nativities Trail at the National Gallery (the online tour is here).  The story is well represented in the following books we borrowed from the library - one with paintings from the medieval illuminated manuscripts, the other with paintings from the renaissance period:

Now that we have a good idea of how the Christmas story has been presented from an artistic and religious point of view, we decided to learn about the historical sources of the festival, as we have done back in October with finding out where Halloween had come from

This post is linked up to:
1) Homeschool Mother's Journal: December 21, 2012
2) Collage Friday - Christmas Preparations
3) Weekly Wrap-Up: The One When the World Didn't End
4) All Year Round Blog Carnival: Winter

Friday, 21 December 2012

Advent: The Nutcracker again

The Nutcracker theme has been a Christmas tradition in our household for quite a few years now.  This year is no exception.

We read the unabridged version for bedtime story,

followed by getting more out of the story by reading the DK Eyewitness version which gives other interesting background information to the story.  Then Tiger completed the Nutcracker Activity Book that he had started on when he was four years old.  The activity book contains various activities such as mazes, crossword puzzles, colouring-by-numbers, anagrams, etc.

We listened to two different CDs of The Nutcracker music -- one with narration, the other was purely instrumental -- as we went about our days.

Last year we were able to attend a live performance of the ballet at the Royal Opera House.  This year, we have to be contented with watching the performance at home.

After watching the ballet on the screen, Tiger remembered seeing much of the stage changes at the live performance last year, and he was inspired to put on his own theatre show of the story at home, complete with prop changes:

Although we did not get to watch the ballet live this year, we did however get to attend an orchestral concert of the same piece of music in which a prominent illustrator completed several pieces of illustrations live on stage, in time with each section of the music.

Before the concert, Tiger attended a craft workshop where he made a paper nutcracker and a mouse king's crown.

This post is linked up to:
1) Homeschool Mother's Journal: December 21, 2012
2) Collage Friday - Christmas Preparations
3) TGIF Linky Party #58
4) Weekly Wrap-Up: The One When the World Didn't End
5) Look What We Did: December Link-Up 
6) All Year Round Blog Carnival: Winter
7) Homeschool Hobbies and Handicrafts - Dec 21

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Advent: Count down to Christmas

Five more days to Christmas.  It's beginning to look, sound, and smell Christmassy around here.

For us, the Christmas season only starts when the tree is put up and decorated.  As we have quite a big tree, the whole affair usually takes a few hours to complete.

First we need to get the enormous box out of storage:


Then the boys will assemble the tree:

Once the bare bones are up, Tiger and I get to put the decorations on.

This year Tiger has a lot more say in how he wants to decorate the tree.

Luckily for us, the tree is so tall that the job of decorating it can be evenly divided into two parts: the higher part and the lower part.  Therefore, Tiger got to do the lower part of the tree while I was in charge of the higher of the tree.  The tree turned out fine.

Now that the Christmas season has been officially ushered into our household, there has been a daily dose of Christmassy songs and smells to accompany our days:

This post is linked up to:
1) Enchanted Thursdays Blog Hop #42
2) All Year Round Blog Carnival: Winter

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Advent: Christmas ginger biscuits

There's something about the warming smell of spices that seem to surround winter and especially Christmas.  While we can bake ginger biscuits at any time of the year, the gingerbread people and gingerbread houses seem to be the trendy thing to do during Christmas time.

We have a set of Christmas-themed cookie cutters which Tiger used to cut the basic gingerbread dough.

Unlike last year when Tiger made more elaborated decorations to his homemade cookies, this year Tiger has made a whole load of humble ginger biscuits instead, which are very tasty without any of the artificial colourings.

Some of these are packed as gifts to friends in the neighbourhood:

Even though we did not make the traditional gingerbread people this year, they still feature prominently in our household in the form of a garland.  I chanced upon a set of pre-cut gingerbread men shapes to be strung together.  The stringing-together bit is very similar to the paper chains that Tiger made last week.

Now the garland sits nicely where we get to see it every day.  It curves like a smile and indeed puts a smile on our faces each time we walk past it.

This post is linked up to:
1) Hip Homeschool Hop - 12/18/12
2) Kids in the Kitchen - Link up 45
3) Look What We Did: December Link-Up
4) All Year Round Blog Carnival: Winter
5) Homeschool Hobbies and Handicrafts - Dec 21 
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