Sunday, November 27, 2011

First week of Advent!

First off, check out this adorable nativity set I picked up for Fidget and Rosebud!  Daria got them the three wise men expansion pack to go with it.  But no shepherds...what up Playmobile?  I would have totally bought this for my kids when they were younger. Heck, maybe I'll still get them one anyway...and I'll probably play with it all through Advent...

Advent is here!  It is nothing short of miraculous that I was actually READY for it this year!  I really don't know how it happened.  But while the world has exploded with red and green and garish cartoon characters dressed as Santa Claus and suggestions for toys we must give our children if we want them to love us, it has been lovely to spend a day in preparation so we can sit back and be still and contemplate and feel PEACE, you know, that elusive thing everyone else talks about but no one ever really experiences.

TV Cabinet: Before

I took the opportunity in my Advent preparations yesterday to spruce up the living room again.  It wasn't all that bad as we had whipped it into shape for Thanksgiving, but some things had gotten over-looked (i.e. DUSTING) and as the Autumn decorations had to be removed to make way for Advent, some areas needed a little re-purposing.
TV Cabinet: After (almost)
There are a few bare spots where I've left room for a few Christmas decorations that will rise from the depths of the basement in about three weeks.  But don't you think some bareness is fitting during Advent?

Dresser: Before

The Viking's heirloom dresser.  He helped his dad refinish it one summer when he was a boy.  It stood in his family's country house for years after.  Last Autumn, it was decided that the house would be sold and The Viking was asked if he wanted it.

Dresser: After
 It's been a welcome addition to the living room both aesthetically and practically (tons of storage space in those drawers)!  Doesn't it look a lot nicer without the eye drops and Legos?

Piano: Before
 The piano looked nearly naked after I'd removed all of the Autumn paraphernalia.  But don't worry, I took good care of that!

Piano: After
My in-laws gave us this nativity set during the early years of our marriage.  When we were living in much smaller spaces it was a challenge finding a place large enough to display it, but I've always loved it so!  It's absolutely beautiful.  I really should have taken a closer photo of it...

A rare 5-candle holder (with crosses!) bought on clearance at Michael's and a pine cone garland I'd forgotten I had

And, finally, the Advent candles.  I have never been able to find a wreath so I had to make do with what I could find.  But one of the things I find so comforting about Advent is that our imperfections and mistakes are precisely the things that Christ came to save us from.  I don't get bent out of shape if my displays or a bit off or unsophisticated.  It's a reminder that I am incapable of saving myself, that I need someone divine to make me perfect!

Now.  What you see here are two different ways to keep your tapers from tipping over.  In the plastic bag are small plastic rings you can put in the ends of the tapers before you jam them into their holders.  I bought them at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  On the right is an idea I got from Auntie Leila: bits of paper toweling.  I bought those at the grocery store.  I consulted my household firefighter and he said the paper towels are actually a safer choice because, in the unlikely event that one of the candles should burn low enough for its stabilizer to catch fire, the paper towel would burn out too quickly to be much of a problem whereas the plastic would melt and be messy and toxic and quite possibly burn long enough to ignite something else.  Thanks for nothing, Bed, Bath and Beyond!

You may have noticed that the candle holder I'm using holds votives, yet I'm using tapers?  This is where the imperfections come in.  I could NOT find pink votives that weren't rose scented anywhere!  And purple votives of any kind were nonexistent.  Daria and I literally spent an entire afternoon and evening trolling every shopping establishment that might carry candles looking for those appropriate for Advent!  We finally found the right colors at the Amish market (which I find curiously amusing) but they only had tapers.  So tapers it was!

I am certain that someone, somewhere makes nifty little candle holders that somehow convert to hold both tapers and votives, but I haven't seen them yet.  So, for the meantime, I bought five glass taper holders and set them underneath the metal holder.  Not perfect, but it certainly will do.

A length of berry vine (also on sale at Michael's) wound around the thing helps to camouflage the weirdness.  I am ALL about camouflaging weirdness, my friends.  Besides, I find real life greens and vines incredibly hard to work with.  I guess I'm just not that kind of girl.

The whole thing goes on my vintage Coca-Cola tray that usually hangs on the dining room wall because it's the perfect size!  And without a tray underneath the mess, there's no way I would be able to move the candles with any ease when necessary.  Also, the forgotten but remembered pine cone garland adds another touch of nature and adds further concealment.

Ta-Da!  Other preparations included printing up some Advent prayers and the (Latin) words to O Come O Come, Emmanuel.  I would like to also start having the family place straws for baby Jesus' bed for each good deed done, but have not yet found the straws.  All in good time, all in good time...

It's Advent!  A most blessed one to all!

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