Keeping Christmas- baked goods, advent reflection and gift guides

December 5, 2014

If you’ve been to my house the last month there’s a good possibility that I have shoved one of these in your mouth. Combining several of my favorite things (PEARS! CHOCOLATE! BUTTER!) into one delicious baked treat. They are craggy and delicious and because they are a rather wet dough, they taste almost like shortbread. Perfect. I’ve made them gluten-free and they turn out just as delicious.

We have a pear tree in our backyard, and while these pears were not grown grown in the Uhler orchard, I am always looking for tasty ways to use up our bounty before they turn to mush. Pear mint jelly, pear chutney, pear butter, dried pears. My kids are over it. Me, I could eat pears for days. especially roasted and slightly caramelized like these.

I am having a hard time believing that the second Sunday of advent is upon us. Every Christmas I try so hard to prepare advent activities ahead of time, plan baking days and crafts with the kids. Every year December comes with the speed of a freight train while I’m still cleaning up from Thanksgiving. I want the kids to have sweet and magical memories for Christmas in our home. But the thing is, there are always more ideas and crafts than I can keep up with. My standards get unrealistic. The boys are not going to sit and knit handmade gifts while I bake delicious cookies for us to decorate later. Uleashing the preschooler with a paper Christmas tree and glitter is not going to fit neatly between after-school activities and dinner.

I’m reminded to keep it simple. Keep it do-able. Write it on the calendar and block out time. Tonight, our advent activity is to have cocoa and cookies after dinner at a friend’s house.  Christmas isn’t about all the stuff. It’s not about the doing and making and lovely handmade felt garlands which I may or may not get around to making. I do find joy in preaparing our hearts and home for Christmas in a way that sets this time apart from the rest of the year and I’m working on adding to our list of simple things to do to celebrate: choosing our gifts from the World Vision Gift Catalog (i love watching my kids’ hearts stir as they debate the merits of giving a goat versus a pig and some chickens), making paper snowflakes, reading a Christmas story together, going for a winter walk after dinner, writing someone a special note…. What are some of your advent activities?

Advent is for stillness. For sitting with darkness and waiting. The days are cold and short. We remember we are broken and need light and warmth. We remember we need a saviour. We slow down to hear God speak the truest Word into existence out of eternal love. What I want more than anything for my family at Christmas is to draw near to Bethlehem, peer into that old stable, stare into the face of God as a baby as He stares back with adoration and love enough to change the whole hurting world. And baked goods don’t hurt either. Recipe after the pictures. (And don’t I have the cutest photo-bomber ever?)

Seattle Tacoma lifestyle food photographer06.jpg
Seattle Tacoma lifestyle food photographer02.jpg
Seattle Tacoma lifestyle food photographer01.jpg
Seattle Tacoma lifestyle food photographer03.jpg
Seattle Tacoma lifestyle food photographer04.jpg
Seattle Tacoma lifestyle food photographer05.jpg
Seattle Tacoma lifestyle food photographer07.jpg
Seattle Tacoma lifestyle food photographer08.jpg
Seattle Tacoma lifestyle food photographer09.jpg
Seattle Tacoma lifestyle food photographer10.jpg
Seattle Tacoma lifestyle food photographer11.jpg
Seattle Tacoma lifestyle food photographer12.jpg

Recipe for Roasted Pear and chocolate chunk scones.  I added cardamom, because CHOCOLATE! PEARS! CARDAMOM! And because I rarely every cook a recipe the way it’s written. Sometimes this works out well for me, sometimes, not so much.

By the way, if you are looking for Christmas gift ideas, check out the Gift Guides at Modern Parents Messy Kids. They have curated 10 different gift guides all with very thoughtful, well reviewed, quality games and toys. Check it out. It gave me some great ideas. I particularly love the STEM gift guide. A certain 10-year-old on my list might be receiving some stuff from that list this year. I’m a big fan of buying local, but these guides can give you some ideas to bring to your local toy or game shop!