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Origins of Advent

December 5, 2016

The time Advent begins varies, but it is around the time of the year that the days are almost at their shortest.  It makes sense that we welcome the practice of hopeful anticipation each day in preparation for a holiday.

The practice of marking Advent originated in the 19th century where families made a chalk mark on their door 24 days leading up to Christmas.  This progressed to putting pictures up on the wall each day.

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Gratuitous hamster picture from April’s Animals.

In 1904 an Advent Calendar was inserted in the newspaper “Neues Tagblatt Stuttgart” as a gift for their readers.

Jenny Lee from the Vancouver Sun tells us that, “the first known advent calendar dates back to 1851. The first printed advent calendar may have been produced in Hamburg in 1902 by a Protestant bookshop, or by Munich printer Gerhard Lang of Reichhold & Lang in 1908, according to German advent calendar manufacturers Richard Sellmer Verlag. Lang created and sold at least 30 designs before his firm went out of business in the 1930s.The Second World War put a stop to the popular German tradition when cardboard was rationed.”

It sounds like the exact origins of the Advent calendar may be a bit unclear.  But if it is like the practices of my friends I talked about yesterday with mothers and fathers making things for their children, I tend to think this is one of the most likely stories;

According to Richard Sellmer Verlag, “when Gerhard Lang was a child his mother made him an Advent Calendar with 24 “Wibbele” (little candies) which were stuck on a cardboard. Later Lang was a participator of the printing office Reichhold & Lang. He produced little colored pictures which could be affixed on a cardboard at every day in December. This was the first printed Advent Calendar, although without windows to open, published in 1908. This Calendar was named “Christmas-Calendar” or “Munich Christmas-Calendar”. At the beginning of the 20th Lang produced the first Advent Calendars with little doors to open.”  Richard Sellmer printed the first calendar after the war in 1946.

During his presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower was photographed opening an Advent calendar, and they became popular in North America.

Pictures, verses, candies have been popular and stand the test of time for the Advent calendar.  It may be a passing fad to have beer or other spirits, but this year my hamster friends and I are enjoying the ride with my spirits calendar!  Today we took the opportunity to savour this moment, and opened the door to St Patrick Irish cream liqueur.  Irish whiskey blended with real Wisconsin dairy cream and natural flavours.  Mmm, savoured to the last drop.

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Advent Can Be An Adventure!

December 3, 2016

What is more fun than going on an adventure?  Many people are making December into an adventure with their advent traditions. Today I highlight some of my favorite ideas and practices.

I have friends with children that have gotten into the spirit with making homemade boxes that contain small wrapped presents for each day.  Michael made boxes for his children last year and then commented, “Hopefully the kids like this, as it would have been a heck of a lot less work to just buy the cruddy candy advent calendars from the store.”  Adventure for the kids and for the parents for sure!

Becky who also has a family involves everyone.  “Lego for Julie and Joey, Play dough for Ben,  and beer for the adults.” A bit of experienced advice, It can be a bit tough if you get behind on the wine and beer calendars.  Especially if the alcohol content is 10 to 17%.  More merry, but hard to stay straight.

Andrea is making festive breakfasts for her children every day.  Her first one started with a pancake and egg snowman!

I follow a woman on Facebook who has her hamsters pose in all sorts of themes, including kitchen, beauty parlour, and moon landing.  This month she has her hamster posing with an advent calendar.  How cute!

adventFrom Harcourt Hammies.

Some people have shared a special calendar, probably because the first day it tells you to share the calendar!  Check out the Act of Kindness Advent Calendar.  A novel idea.

And then a old school friend (she’s not old though!), Stephanie, has the most traditional Advent calendar.  Reading bible verses.

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If you are not a traditionalist, perhaps you would like to join with the police at Europol.  They have put out a Europe’s most wanted Advent calendar where you can watch out for their highlighted criminal of the day.  Because “it’s the most wonderful time of the year, to lock up criminals.”

Not as interested in crime?  More creative type perhaps?  Maybe you would like to try your hand at the Haynes Build Your Own Retro Radio Advent calendar.  Build a working radio in 24 steps.  Open each day for a new part.  Instructions included, but not the batteries.

Now to catch up on my calendar choice!  May your days be bright and merry.  Be of good cheer.   The doors revealed same lovely horchata twice, but one was pumpkin spice flavoured.  Looking forward to the fourth!

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Advent Calendars, Not Just Chocolate Anymore.

December 1, 2016

The season of advent has begun in the Christian calendar.  Advent is the Latin version of “coming.” It starts four Sundays before Christmas and is a season of preparation for the holiday.  In our house we have an Advent wreath with candles, and we start to decorate.  In years past we kept an advent calendar – the nice chocolate ones, just because it is fun!

This year I learned of more options for Advent calendars that you can purchase.

  • David’s tea – 24 days of tea.  Count down the days to deliciousness with this tea-filled advent calendar.
  • Body Shop – 24 days of happiness and festive surprises -cosmetics, bath and body products.
  • Lego Star Wars –  Open up a door each December day to reveal a fun Star Wars gift. My friend Earl blogs about his, with poetry, on the Earliad.
  • Cheese Advent Calendar – sorry, this year you have to make your own gourmet cheese calendar, but this lovely lady gives you step by step instructions!

There are others, just search for your favorite product…cosmetics, Starbucks, chocolate, beer, wine, nail polish, essential oils, jewelry.

And my favorite, the choice I made for this year…an Advent Spirits calendar!  I picked this festive box from my local BC liquor store.  For days I have been saying, “is it December first yet?”  Today I was chiming, “it 5 o’clock yet?”  Anticipation if fun!

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Gentle readers of my blog know that I am fond of hamsters.  You may also know that hamsters are fond of alcohol.  It is because they have evolved to store grain, and are very effective at processing grain that has become fermented; and without hangovers.  These hamsters have come to help us celebrate the season.

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Here we go!  December first brings us Jingle Bell Time.  Maya crème de liqueur rum.  Finest Caribbean rum, blended with real dairy cream, natural and artificial flavours, coloured with caramel.  Yum and yum!

 

 

Still Waiting…Thankfully

October 21, 2016

Yesterday was the Great Shakeout in British Columbia.  This is a yearly date set aside to consider preparing for the seismic event that will occur sometime in the future on the West coast, practicing how to survive and recover from earthquakes.

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This year, during the designated time at 1020 am, I was attending a meeting at work.  A rare occurrence for me, but it was good to be able to share with my uncertain colleagues the purpose of the Shake Out, and demonstrate what to do if the ground starts to feel like a bouncy castle.

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This advice hasn’t changed in the years I have been participating, but I have noticed the links I have included in the past for my posts have changed. Along with practicing, I use this time to review my emergency kits and exchange expired items, as well as add new comfort items to my grab and go kit.

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Last year I added tea and a flask.  I can’t believe I could exist without tea during the recovery period of an earthquake or evacuation.  This year, on the advice of someone who survived the Christchurch quake who spoke on CBC radio, I will scan my important documents and include copies in an accessible place.

Here are some up to date links for 2016 on preparedness!

Government of Canada: Get Prepared  Know the Risks, Make a Plan, Get a Kit

Great British Columbia Shake Out  Join in and participate every third Thursday of October

Government of BC  Prepared BC – On your way to being ready

City of Port Coquitlam Emergency Preparedness – check out your own city for how you can be prepared locally and in your neighbourhood.

CDART – Canadian Disaster Animal response team – don’t forget your pet!

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Get a kit!  Get a kit the quick and easy way, buy a ready made kit for you and your family, your car, your school, your pet or make your own…online at:

Red Cross  – you can now order online!

FAST – this is a local company in Delta, BC

St John’s Ambulance – You can order more than first aid kits

26 weeks to emergency preparedness – build your own kit a week at a time, it’s easier for when you are on a budget, also includes learning about preparedness.

Get informed a different way

Preparedness 101 – the Zombie Pandemic – A fun way of teaching preparedness, a graphic novel from the CDC

Fault Lines – CBC podcast on preparedness guided by a seismologist

I am all prepared, now what?  During my meeting I asked the group for a show of hands on who has an emergency kit in their home and car.  I was pleased with the response of many hands raised, and chuckled at the other response expressed, “oh, shut up.”  Everyone has a different level of comfort with disasters, and I can respect we all come from different places.  I have a friend who, many years before, lost her house in a fire, and I learned from her that  preparedness isn’t everything, but you can recover.  I choose to volunteer when I can with my city.  Do whatever you can, and I hope that throughout our lives we will keep waiting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gracious Living for Hamsters

September 9, 2016

I have been thinking about what a pet hamster would like if they could choose their living space and transportation.  They need to be active, and can run about 9 kilometers a night.  They are naturally prey animals, and can be stressed if they are in an environment they don’t consider safe. They instinctively want to dig and burrow, making places to store food and sleep.

It really depends on the hamster personality on what they prefer.  I have had hamsters that jump into the plastic ball so that they can run around the house.  Other hamsters would just roll into a corner and sit. One study showed that free wild mice will run in a wheel when placed in their field.  Rodents are all natural marathon runners!  I even had one hamster, Sally, that when she accidentally got out of her cage one night, came out from under the couch when we called her name.  We habituated her to the bedrooms upstairs, and she would happily climb the stairs, run around exploring and then come back to us when we called and it was time to return.

Here is a hamster that prefers expensive cars instead of hamster balls.  You can find him on Facebook, his name is  Abroham Squeakin.  He is one cool ham.

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So you are a hamster sporting a cool car, but where is the living large hamster going to live?  The old method would be to have plastic tunnels connecting a myriad of cages.  That’s okay, but could be unsightly to fit in with the décor of your house.  Hamsters do need space to move about, as long as they have places they can hide in and feel safe.  Many are not fussy, I had one ham that adored sitting forever in a cardboard box that was from my spring bulb delivery.  Maybe it smelled nice, and it did have great air holes where he would poke out his nose.  But owners who love their hamsters want more than a box, and many pride themselves on decorating the hamster environment with themes.  Erin from ErinsAnimals blog and You Tuber has great advice and directions on how to build and create all sorts of things for your hamster, including a cage from Ikea furniture.

 

 

Erin also has instructions on how to create items for the cage, but if you visit Andrea Probst you will meet an incredibly creative woman who makes entire hamster buildings.  You can find them at her website hamster-wohnwelt.de

This is called the Mediterranean.

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This one, outside of its hamster habitat, is called the Castle.

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She learned wood working as a hobby in their family home to make a building for her hamster, and her talents blossomed from there.  If you don’t share these talents, you can purchase her creations.

So take it from the hamster, if a place is nice, it is a good place to stick around and store your sunflower seeds.

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Bear survives another visit to the PNE

September 4, 2016

It’s Labour day, and that means the fair at the PNE is coming to a close soon. Of course we couldn’t miss our trip to experience the treats.  So this week we made it out, even though the day was a bit rainy, we had heaps of fun.

Every year I bring along a stuffed bear I won long ago at the midway.  He has two left feet and looks kinda homely, but I figure he likes to visit his old stomping ground.  It also gives me an excuse not to spend more at the midway again.  He sports a PNE wristband that I got a few years ago, and I think he looks kinda cute.  Hopefully he will be good luck in winning the prize home!

20160831_140327Here he poses in the kitchen of the prize home.

We sure like trying the unique food, and little bear helps us pose with our treats.

Mmm good, deep fried tequila shots, Mexican style perogies, award winning smoked ribs and pulled pork, fresh satay noodles and oreo churros!

 

Can’t miss treats are the macaroni stuffed burgers and the bacon flavoured cotton candy. Also, bear poses with the bbq trophy.

That’s it for this year, we are all stuffed!

An unlucky break

August 31, 2016

Even little hamsters can have a rough time.  This baby ham picture was posted on Reddit to evoke comments and sympathy, but had no explanation other than “Little fellow broke his arm.”  One has to imagine the juvenile hammy going on his first days to school and having the other hamsters sign his itty bitty cast.