Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry CHRISTmas and Happy Birthday, Jesus

A great neighbor of ours got us started a few years back with this fun tradition.  Before the kids can open any Christmas presents on Christmas morning, we reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ.  Each kid lets a Happy Birthday Balloon go.  We always make a trip to the Dollar Tree a day or two before Christmas.  A lot of the time we grab a few extras and share them with our friends. 

If we share them with our friends, we attache a fun little card explaining our tradition, and including a bible verse about Jesus' birth.

This is a picture of the kids letting them go last year. 

Even if your dollar store isn't open at this hour, you can grab one from your grocery store florist.

Whatever you choose to do to celebrate Christ's birth this year, we hope you have a very blessed time with family and reflect on a baby in a manger.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gingerbread House Party

Last year my friend, Kim, decided to throw together this party that became a tradition!  She and her daughter sent out invitations to lots of little girls.  Every girl brings something fun to decorate a gingerbread house with.  The items are sorted into bowls, that each girl gets to use for her house.

Kim used graham crackers to create the houses, and placed them on upside down plates to create the yard of the house.  Last year she used thick frosting to put the houses together ahead of time. If you have ever done this, you know how hard it is for the frosting to dry and adhere the parts of the house.  This year Kim got really creative and used a glue gun!  She has the houses put together before every one gets there.  The moms fill pastry bags with the thick frosting.  They are on had to walk around and add frosting to the houses as the girls work excitedly on their houses.

Every girl poses for an individual photo with her house.
This is a tradition that is sure to carry on year after year.  Thanks, Kim, for your hard work on this super fun event I know my daughter looks forward to every year.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rudolph Ice Cream

Tonight we had a fun Rudolph treat before bed.  I took a scoop of chocolate ice cream, added cool whip eyes and put a mini chocolate chip in the middle of the cool whip, broke a pretzel in half for antlers and then added a maraschino cherry for the nose.  The kids loved it!  I saw the idea here.

They weren't perfect, but the kids didn't mind :)

Upcycled Travel Activities

Trivial Pursuit for Young Players on the go

This is my new passion....Upcycling unwanted games.
I have a favorite junk store, located in Edwardsville, Kansas.  It is called "A Whole Lotta Stuff at Stan's".  With a name like that you can imagine what you might find.  I love to find old games and repurpose them.  I found this Trivial Pursuit game for Young Players for just $.69 cents!  I was able to take the box of questions and make 6 rings of questions.  We carry this in the car, take it to restaurants, or just sit around after dinner asking the questions. 

I hole punched each card and put them on a binder ring.  I also took each of the pies and pie pieces and drilled a hole in them to attach for a fun little accent.
Other great games to do this with are Charades, Pictionary, Sports trivia, and more.

Scope out your local thrift or junk store, and see how creative you can be this holiday season with repurposing.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Light Walking Tour

Every year we google Christmas Lights in Johnson County, grab the kids, run through Starbucks and get some hot chocolate.  It is a great tradition that we have had since the kids were tiny.  Last year we decided to take a different look at lights.  We bundled up, and actually walked through our neighborhood with our camera in hand.

We started in our own yard with these fun lollipops my grandfather made years ago.  They are wooden, painted lolli-pops wrapped in cellophane.

Our neighbors place this simple, white nativity in their front yard and spotlight it onto the house. I don't know which I like better, the large shadow it creats, or the spotlight on the actual decoration.

Had to snap a pic of the kids, too:) 

several of the streets in our neighborhood are lined with trees decorated in different colors.  Our street is red bottoms, white tops, one is green and white, another is red top, white bottoms. 

My favorite picture of the night.  The family posing with a display.

So, do something different this year.  Take a different look at Christmas lights.  And, don't forget the camera!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Have a Poppin' Good Christmas

My kids like to give all their teachers a little something for Christmas.  As in the art teacher, music, PE, librarian, computer lab and so on.  I like to come up with something simple, but fun.  Last year we did hot chocolate in a cup with a candy cane.  We put a note on it that said: We hope you have a warm and cozy Christmas filled with family and friends.  Merry Christmas!  This year my daughter wanted to do the same thing, but I wanted to do something different.  My oldest sister said last year they got microwave popcorn, put it in the $1 popcorn buckets at Target and put a note around the popcorn that read: Have a Poppin' Good Christmas.  I loved the idea, but I like to make things difficult on myself.  I have decided to use this same idea, but make 3 different kinds of popcorn to put in cellophane bags.  We will make Peppermint Popcorn, Carmel Corn and Cinnamon Popcorn.  Below are the recipes and printable gift tags.

Peppermint Popcorn
16 oz almond bark
6 candy canes, crushed very fine
4 quarts popped popcorn (about a 1/2 cup popcorn kernels)

Pop popcorn.  In a large bowl melt almond bark in the microwave; stir often.  When the almond bark is completely melted, stir in the candy canes.  Place popped popcorn in a  large bowl and pour almond bark/candy cane mixture over top.  Gently stir to coat popcorn.  Pour out onto parchment paper and allow popcorn to dry/harden.  (This tasted really good on pretzels too!) 

I found this recipe here, but changed it a little.

Caramel Corn
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick margarine
1/4 cup white corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
5-9 cups popped popcorn

In a 2 quart dish, mix the brown sugar, margarine, corn syrup and salt.  Put it in the microwave and cook on high for 2 minutes or until mixture comes to a boil, stirring often.  Remove from microwave and stir in the soda.  Put popped popcorn in a large glass bowl and pour caramel mixture over top and stir.  Cook on high for 1 1/2 minutes and then stir.  Cook another 1 1/2 minutes and then pour into a pan to cool.

Cinnamon Popcorn
10 cups popped popcorn
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (optional)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper Sauce (I found this in the BBQ sauce aisle at Walmart)
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp cinnamon
6 Tbsp unsalted butter or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter

Combine sugars, corn syrup, cayenne pepper sauce and honey.  Bring to a full boil over medium high heat; stirring until sugars are dissolved.  Boil 6-8 minutes or until soft crack stage (290 degrees F on candy thermometer).  Do not stir, remove from heat.  Gradually add butter and cinnamon to sugar mixture; stirring mixture until well blended and pour over popcorn and pecans.  Stir popcorn.  If it sets too quickly, put mixture in oven to soften.  Spread popcorn on cookie sheets to dry.  Break up popcorn after it has set awhile.  (You may want to start with less cayenne pepper sauce and kind of taste the mixture to see how hot you want it.)

Like I said, I plan to put these in cellophane bags, attach them together and put the follow tag on them:

You can download these tags here for you to use.

These would make great gifts for your neighbors too.  If you don't have enough time to make the popcorn, you can always do what my sister did or buy a popcorn tin and add the tag.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Snowman Snacks

Last year we made a couple of these snowman containers:

I had collected a few of the these Gerber containers:

I ripped off the plastic label, put a piece of black felt on the top and secured it with a black rubberband and then cut it to look like a circle.  Then we drew on the eyes, nose, mouth and buttons and finished it off with a plaid piece of fleece for a scarf.  I think they turned out pretty cute.  Here is what we filled them with:

Oyster Crackers
2 lbs oyster crackers
1 pkg Original Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp dill weed
1 cup Wesson vegetable oil

Put the first 5 ingredients in a glass bowl.  Heat the oil in the microwave.  (You want it to be hot, but not boiling.)  Pour the oil over the other ingredients and mix well.  Cover tightly and let set for 24 hours.

Here is another recipes you could use:

Seasoned Pretzels
2 lbs pretzels
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1 pkg Original Hidden Valley Ranch dressing
1 tsp cayenne pepper powder (You may want to use more or less depending on how hot you want your pretzels.)

Put all the ingredients in a flat bottom pan or bowl and mix together.  Cover and let set for 24 hours.  (I used a bowl with a lid so that I could shake it to mix the ingredients.)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Snowman and Rudolph Donuts

I found these adorable donuts on Pinterest and had to make them for my kids.  I treated them to breakfast in bed this morning.

Snowman: powdered donut, candy corn and upside down chocolate chips
Rudolph: chocolate covered donut, pretzels, peanut M&M's, and pearl sprinkles

These would be fun after school someday too or at a holiday party at your child's school.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Pancakes

Every year I try to make my kids a fun Christmas pancake for Christmas morning. 
Here  is what I did a last year.

Santa's hat is the juice from cherry pie filling and cool whip, eyes are bananas with a chocolate chip in the middle, nose is a cherry, ears are bananas and the beard is more cool whip.  Rudolph: the antlers are french toast sticks, eyes are chocolate chips and the nose is a cherry. 

Anyone have a good idea for me to make this year?? 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cinnamon Sugar Snowflakes

Fun snow project. Fold a tortilla in 1/2 and in 1/2 again. Let your child use clean kid's scissors to cut the tortilla like a snow flake. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and back at 350 for approximately 10 minutes. YUM!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Trimming the Tree

If you can't tell, Christmas is my favorite holiday, for many reasons.  Those of you who are scrapbookers, and extreme saps, will appreciate this.  Those of you who are very into decorating, symetry, and style, perhaps not.  But......I share.

When I was trimming the tree this year, I realized that I"m rubbing off on the kids.  Each of the kids have their own trees, with their own special ornaments.  Every ornament we pulled out to trim the tree with, the kids would remember where and when and why we got/received the ornament.  The ornaments they didn't recognize, they would ask, "mom, where did this ornament come from?"

My ornaments are like a scrapbook.  Every year we open the boxes, pull out the ornaments and remember a story.  This is a carved gord my hubby bought me on our honeymoon in New Mexicon.
This ornament was from my second grade teacher, Ms. Roche.  Her mom crocheted one for me and each of my class mates.  She was my favorite teacher.
My friend, Eileen brings me an ornament a lot from places they go.  This is one of my favorites.  She knows I used to life guard in high school.  This is a life guard stand from a vacation she took several years ago.
I bought this ornament last year when I went on a 40th Birthday Vacation with my sister and my friend, Megan. 
  I bought this pink tennis shoe in Breckenridge, Colorado, with my friend, Cara, when we finished walking the Avon 39 Mile Breast Cancer walk.

I could go on and on.  So, if you look at a goofy ornament at the store, and think who would ever put THAT on their tree, it might just signify something special to someone.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Snowman Stir Sticks

Okay, I am the first to admit to stealing ideas.....this idea came from my friend, Amy, with Life is Sweet.  This is such a fabulous idea, and the kids, and Grandpa, had a great time creating them.

First, you start with 8 inch lollipop sticks.  You can find these at Wal-mart, Hobby Lobby, or Michaels.
You stack 3 large (not campfire sized) marshmallows.

The scarves are fruit roll-ups cut into strips.  (That was Grandpa's job)  He figured out that if you cut them while the wrappers are still on, they don't stick together.
Wrap the roll-up around the "neck" of the marshmallow snowman.
These are AWESOME!!  They are Betty Crocker Easy Writer food coloring markers!
They are perfect to design your snowman's eyes, buttons, carrot nose, and mouth. 

Package your snowman stir stick with a packet of cocoa in a cellophane bag.  Voila!  A perfect, inexpensive gift for neighbor kids, teachers, and friends.

Left-overs turned.....Waffle Fries

With the holidays upon us, many of you will have a traditional ham or turkey dinner with the trimmings.  Perhaps you will have mashed potatoes....
I don't know about you, but in the evening after a really large meal, our family eats "light".  This year for Thanksgiving we decided to get creative.  You've most likely made potato pancakes with leftover mashed potatoes, but what about waffle fries?  This was a huge hit with the kids.
My daughter, Carolyn, decided she needed a little ketchup with hers.  I decided I would try it with stuffing.  It was perfect!  I put turkey on top of it, and it was like an open faced turkey sandwich.  Yum.

Get creative with your leftovers.  The possibilities are endless.

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