Aidan's been off nursery sick for a couple of days this week, but fortunately he was well enough today to make his stage debut. Nursery has done so much for his confidence and he didn't seem at all phased by the audience which at one time would have prevented him from getting past the door.
As a way of using up the leftover suet from making the Christmas pudding, keeping Aidan occupied for half an hour and feeding our birdie visitors in the cold weather, we had a go at making some bird feeders for the garden. They are really easy to make and as the mixture doesn't have to get too hot, fairly safe to make with a 3 year old. It's the first sort of cooking too where Aidan hasn't needed to be policed to prevent him eating the mixture (thankfully).
Some sort of receptacle is needed to hold the food. Plastic tubs with a hole cut in the bottom and a string loop threaded through and knotted to hold it in place work best but we only had 2. Mike ingeniously came up with the idea of halving some oranges, hollowing out the flesh and using the peel 'bowl', instead. We're hoping that birds don't have a similar reaction to citrus smells that cats do - in fact they could even be anti-cat bird-feeders if the birds take to them.
Simply heat 1 part suet to 2 parts wild bird seed in a pan, stir and when the suet has melted spoon the mixture into the pots. I have to say I didn't think that it looked like enough fat to hold the seeds together and in place but it has worked fine. Of course we've yet to see a bird go anywhere near them.
I know they aren't wildly impressive and glitzy but I love these lights. Christmas is definitely on it's way when they go up. They are just around the corner from our house and greet us when we return home in the evenings through December and early January.
After a bit of pressure-sewing yesterday the advent calendar was completed. Aidan was delighted to discover it this morning and then find a chocolate (have I mentioned he has specified 4 boxes of chocolates on his Christmas list?) in today's mini-sack. After locating number 1 we then did the advent-calendar-tradition of spotting the rest of the numbers in order. It may have to be moved from it's prime location in the sitting room though for it's own preservation, as early observations seem to reveal that it has a gravitational pull on little people with an interest in chocolate. Understandable really.
Hanging each of the mini-sacks on an arrangement of sticks was my Mum's idea, she suggested cutting some from the garden and painting them white which we will probably do next year. Unfortunately this year the garden is so damp (and now snowy) we wouldn't have been able to get them dried out and painted in time. The sticks I've used are 'snow twigs' from Sainsbury's, not a bad alternative but a little on the weak side.
The discs displaying the numbers are made from white Fimo that has been rolled out and then cut into circles with a small bottle lid - and 'hanging holes' made with a knitting needle. After being cooked in the oven to solidify them, the numbers were then written on with a fine red marker pen.
Hopefully it'll become one of our household's Christmas cornerstones over the coming years and digging it out and setting it up each year will signal the beginning of the festivities. I'm a sucker for Christmas and all of the traditions that accompany it, whether they're general ones or more family-specific. Oh and I did double-check that the pouches are big enough to accommodate another chocolate treat when the baby becomes old enough to be involved.