Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Treats

I'm glad I've got pregnancy as an excuse, because there's been no shortage of good food.

When your sweet tooth is overloaded, but you got a new cookie pan for a present...Gingerbread pizza!

One of our birthday gifts...granola! John loves eating it for breakfast. Pretty good, next time I need to remember more dried fruits to include.

John's birthday treat...Snowman ice cream. (He's all about vanilla ice cream)

And as neighbor and visiting teaching goodies, we made up some popcorn...

Peppermint Popcorn - white chocolate and candycanes

Cinnabun Popcorn- Cinnamon Caramel Corn with Pecans and White Chocolate

We also made up massive quantities of White Chocolate Chex. Recipe Here.

I make the recipe with two boxes of Chex at a time, a whole package of candy coating, plus m&m's.

And for tonight...Cafe Rio. No we're not in Utah, just my copycat loving kitchen.

Christmas Crafts

Here's what we've been up to lately...

First, there were some little flower hairclips for the ladies in my life...

And some BIG flower ones. I made some for Young Women's Evening of Excellence, a few weeks ago, and then took the same idea (alligator clip plus grosgrain ribbon plus hot glue plus flower) and made some with fancy flowers..

I bought a bag of ribbon scraps at Hobby Lobby- 2.00 for about 30 pieces of ribbon, 2yds each). Inside were some fancier and shinier ribbon than I usually buy. So I made some hairbows for the preschool gift exchange (there were about 8 girls and 2 boys, so girly was ok).

And on Friday I made these flannel/felt play sets for the girls and our car ride to Grandma's house.

Here's 5 little Snowmen, as seen on Frugal Family Fun . I'll be teaching my girls the cute snowman song as we go over the river and through the woods.

Then I looked through my fabric box, and found some scraps to make winter scenes. From some winter fabric I cute these:

Well, I cut out about 5 times as many. But you get the idea. (Isn't that hello kitty the cutest? She'll be appearing in the girl's christmas pajamas)

And from flannel we made a gingerbread flannel house and some decorations. It took me maybe an hour and a half to cut out all the pieces and glue with tacky glue the sun together, and the house together.

The girls made suggestions about what shapes and accessories they wanted (like hair for gingerbread girls!)

And last but not least, we made a nativity scene to color, from cardstock and toilet paper tubes. From Catholic Icing. Fancy, I know. But it cost nothing, and was a quick activity after dinner last week, so I'm not too sad when it gets ruined.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Santa Conondrum


It's all over the place this time of year.

So for the past few years, we've never done presents from Santa, or made lists for him. It seems like it's a lot more prevalent in Sophia's mind, as there's been way more Christmas movies and books in our house lately.

We had a FHE a few weeks ago, and talked about the Santa that lived, how he gave anonymously, and how we were going to give gifts without a name to a child in our church. We went together and picked out the gifts together.

Sophia's beginning to realize that lots of friends think Santa is bringing them gifts, that they think he's real, rather than being a storybook character like Princesses and Fairytales. Last year we saw a Santa at the mall, and she said "Look, someone dressed up as a Santa." This year at the ward Christmas party, she said- "Santa is a real person, he's here."

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and dissecting the whole Santa story, and how it is pretty much standard Christmas culture.

First, there's the reasons I didn't want to talk up Santa originally:

1. When I was a child, I was obsessed with Santa and getting gifts rather than receiving them. I think my children will still be concerned about what I am getting them for a gift, but I hope the whole discussion in our house leading up to Christmas is about what we are giving and how excited the other person will be.

2. I try my hardest not to lie to my children or gloss over hard things. I want them to know what I tell them, I honestly believe. I would hope they'd never think that you "grow out" of certain beliefs.

3. Santa movies bother me. Mainly because the idea behind them is that children have the capacity to "believe" and adults don't. AND there is a whole aura of blind belief- you "just have to believe"- that somehow belief is the key, rather than faith. I know I am thinking way too deeply about movies that a lot of people think about being about hope and joy and love. But I have religious beliefs, but I act on them in faith and receive answers and I don't advocate just believing to make something true. And it bugs me that movies talk endlessly about "the Spirit of Christmas" and not about Christ.

4. I find it incredible that we as a culture spend so much effort talking about and taking pictures of and baking cookies for Santa, basically perpetuating an idea that isn't true. Same with Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc. Why are we playing a joke on our kids? Why do we equate Santa Claus with child innocence?

So, is it worth it to tell my kids, when they ask, that I don't think Santa delivers gifts to them, and that he's like a character from a storybook? What should I do if another authority figure in their life says it is?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Advent Activities

I've had this advent calendar for years, and the girls love it. Everyday you hang another miniature ornament on the tree. This year we'll be adding activities to the mix. The idea is to do a Christmas or family activity every day of the advent. If you google "advent activities" it seems like everyone and their mom is posting theirs. I put each activity on a piece of paper, then tucked in into the calendar. Certain activities are better closer or away from Christmas, some lend themselves to weekends or normal days of the I thought about that too.

Here's the list we'll be doing this year...not in this order...and yes there's over 25, we'll be starting this Sunday.

  1. Paint everyone's toenails
  2. Have hot chocolate with all the fixin's – Christmas Tea Party
  3. Rake/Jump in Pile of Leaves (ours are still falling!)
  4. Go bowling
  5. Watch a Christmas Movie- Mickey’s Christmas Carol or Little Women together
  6. Look at family photo albums or scrapbook
  7. Make paper snowflakes to hang from ceiling/in windows
  8. Make a Christmas ornament
  9. Making handmade cards for relatives
  10. Take photos in Santa hats/next to Christmas tree
  11. Make M&M cookies, Give away a cookie jar to a friend
  12. Make Paper Toys from the website "The Toymaker"
  13. Read a Christmas story together
  14. Make holiday treats to give away to Visiting/Home Teachees and Teachers- Christmas tree bread, Teddy Bear Bread, Flavored Popcorns,etc.
  15. Go to the thrift store/dollar store and give each child a dollar to spend on a gift for daddy/mommy/each other/his-herself
  16. Teach children how to draw Christmas trees/stars/snowmen
  17. Make Family Bingo or google a Christmas Bingo game
  18. Find or make Felt Mistletoe, hang it in our house and kiss under it.
  19. Have a Christmas Music Dance Party
  20. Go on a walk at night with flashlights to see Neighborhood Lights
  21. Make a Gingerbread house
  22. Read Christmas story from the Bible and the Book of Mormon
  23. Pumpkin Pie or Egg Nog or Peppermint Milkshakes
  24. Purchase gifts for a needy child
  25. Make Sibling Gifts
  26. Family Talent Show
  27. Play Santa Claus with pillow case and gifts wrapped in blankets

And here's some more activities that didn't make the cut, but might next year:

  1. Take a bubble bath (okay, we can't all fit in the tub, but the kids can do this)
  2. Do mom's hair (brush, braid, add hair clips)
  3. Make Paper Trees or Merry Christmas Garland, or homemade Nativity Scene
  4. Build a fort or tunnel.
  5. Make thumb-print animals and people with paint, add the details with a marker.
  6. Do this name game: Think of an attribute that begins with each letter of that persons name, for example:
    N-natural O-observant A-adorable H-humorous
  7. Homemade marshmallows
  8. Go Ice Skating
  9. Host a Christmas Sweater Party or Christmas Cookie Party
  10. Put up a ribbon sash for Christmas cards/Display Christmas Cards
  11. Make a popcorn garland
  12. Make Caramel Corn/Chex Mix or Eat out at a festive restaurant
  13. Wrap Christmas Gifts
  14. Go to the Temple to look at Christmas lights
  15. Go to a showing of The Christmas Carol or The Nutcracker Ballet
  16. Go to a town Christmas Festival

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Thanksgiving Daley Style

At Family Night on Monday, we made smoe turkeys. Using our hands. Apparently Natalie's turkey likes to dance.

Then, on Thanksgiving Day, we made some name tags. I bought the felt turkeys from JoAnn Fabrics a month or so ago, 12 for a dollar. The paper is from the DCWV fall stack.

Then we set the table. See the fancy chair bows? Came with a clearance napkin/tablecloth/pad set. I'm not really a chair bow person, but the girls LOVED them. Then begged me to make their table just as fancy.

Their table included centerpieces of turkeys from, and butcher paper for coloring.

The day also included a Christmas tree craft by Meggan, some computer gaming, and turkey sugar cookies (Circle for the feather background and a Number 1 for the body and beak).

And now, the menu...

One butterball Turkey
Sweet Potato Casserole- in the slow cooker
Pistachio Cool Whip Fruit Salad
Spiced Cinnamon Orange Punch
Green Bean Casserole
Frog Eye Salad
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Pecan, Triple Berry, Apple, Pumpkin pie
Stovetop stuffing
Grandma Daley's Whole Wheat Rolls
Artichoke dip for Appetizer

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Preschool This week: Letter M and Service

First Up: Letter M lesson plan

After worksheets and opening exercises, the girls put their hands inside a tissue box and pulled out an item that started with was a riddle for me to go around the house and find items small enough to fit that started with M.

For our craft we did M&M graph charts. Each girl got two fun sized bags of M&M's. I found this M&M chart to use. They sorted their candy by color, then put them in rows over each color, as seen in the picture.

Each girl counted how many were in each color, and wrote that number above the row. Then they colored in a bar or a dot for each candy, so they'd have a chart once the M&M's were cleared away.

Then we went through each color, and they looked around to see who had the most and the least of reds, then blues, etc. And then we went through numbers, and found that one person had no reds, who had one of a color, two of a color, etc.

For the rest of the day, we read 5 little Monkeys sitting in the tree, and 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed, and acted them out while singing.

Today's theme was Service.

We talked about serving our families, and doing someihtng nice for someone without expecting anything in return.

Then we made cards for a little girl with a long term illness. We found her information here on Make a Child Smile.

While they were making the cards, I pulled away each child to make a Cookie Jar. I found the recipe here for Cowgirl Cookies on Bakerella's blog. We just used Christmas M&M's instead of pink ones.

The girls brought home one cookie jar to keep and make with their families, and one cookie jar to give away to a friend or neighbor.

Then we played Freeze Tag. Do you remember freeze tag? Part of the game, as I remember it, is once you are frozen, someone has to crawl under you to unfreeze you. I thought it was a great active part of our service. The girls were so excited to unfreeze someone, there would be two or three girls unfreezing each frozen girl. It was adorable.

We read some books that included kindness and service, and then we talked about a service turkey. It's my made up idea, I don't know if it will work. Here's the chart I gave them:

It's a list of 14 ways to serve within their families. Then I included a copy of this turkey, from skip to my lou. She has a whole set of Thanksgiving printables for the kiddos to do while you make a meal for the masses.

The idea for the turkey is that each time they do a service, they color in an acorn or a leaf, then the turkey last. I was hoping this would provide some kind of incentive to serving, simply the tracking of progress to make it fun. We shall see.

I'm going to remind the girls when they help me and do extra things to color it in, maybe that will get them excited about helping out around the house!

Feel free to use my chart above for your family, let me know how it works out for ya.


It's no secret that I have DCWV stacks for each season. One of my favorite things to do with that sturdy fancy scrapbook paper is create packages.

These are my main packages.

First, tote bags made from two pieces of paper. Add ribbon for handles and you're good to go.

2. Cereal or snack boxes covered with scrapbook paper for mailing

And my latest....copying off a Panda express take out package. (Isn't Panda Express the best? I mean really? Can I get a witness!)

I traced it onto the paper and cut it out. The lines to fold the package on are at tricky angles, so it took a few tries to figure out how to work it.

Eventually I decided to put the original package on top. Together I folded the package along it's fold lines, giving the scrapbook paper the same fold lines.

Then I carefully folded the scrapbook paper side triangles (the parts below in white) over. It took two tries, and then I had to correct the bottom corners so it was level. I hot glued the side triangles and tied a ribbon around instead of adding a wire handle.

Perfect for holding candies, little presents, or cookies!

Oh and if you want just white or blue or pink gingham, the dollar store has mini ones (about 3 inches tall) about 8 for $1. So don't waste your time making mini ones!

Stegosaurus Liam

Last week a darling baby boy joined the world on Sophia's Birthday. No, it wasn't mine, but a dear friend from high school and college, Kassie Thompson. He was named after my father, but he goes by Liam. Welcome the world Baby Liam! I sent Kassie this package last week, but along the way I took some pics, so maybe you can make one of your own. It's really simple once you wrap your head around it.

First, you need a scrap of fabric, about 12 inches by 18 inches. I free handed a dinosaur shape below, that's about 12 inches by 6 inches. If you're more cautious than that, google stegosaurus. Whatever shape you come up with , add about a 1/2 inch around for seam allowance. Fold your fabric in half , and cut out 2 of these shapes, each one will be a side of the dinosaur.

Then, I cut out pieces of ribbon in coordinating colors, as seen above, to about 5 1/2 or 6 inches. Ribbon width varied from 3/8 inch grosgrain to 1 inch jean fabric sewn to be like ribbon (seen below). Vary texture and color so it's more interesting for the baby. One of my ribbons is sheer, one jean, and the rest grosgrain.

Take one side of the dinosaur shape, and pin the ribbons all around, facing the inside. (once you sew and turn right side out, then they stick up) The important part here is to have the ribbon length inside the seam to be similar, and to keep the ribbon perpindicular to the curve of the dinosaur. If it's not, the ribbon will be at funny angles. They might overlap inside the dinosaur like below.

Sew two parallel seams all the way over the curve of the dinosaur.

Then line up the other dinosaur shape on top, right sides together, pin, and sew all the way around, leaving an opening on the tail or head for turning right side out. I sew with two seams. Careful around the legs, it's really easy for the fabric at those right angles to not be sewn right.

Turn right side out, stuff with polyfill and a bell if you want a jingle saurus.

Pin the opening closed, sew.

Hand sew an eye and mouth if you like.

You're done!

Now go whip up some burp cloths and a baby blanket, and make a baby happy!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

How to tell if you're friend is pregnant

Ok, so let's say your friend does not look
like this quite yet..But 5 bucks says she feels like this. .

So you have a semi good friend that you talk to all the time...or she rambles about her life on her blog or facebook. She seems like she might be gaining a few pounds, and you're sure she wants to be preggers, but not sure if she is? Here's some tell tale signs. As in, real thoughts or comments from the past 2 months...

  1. "I want mustard for dinner...what can I make that involves mustard..."
"Today I heard the song Skater Boy by Avril Lavigne. And thinking about that girl looking up at the guy she missed out on dating because she was so shallow...made me cry."

"The soft pretzel shop in the mall is like a siren song to deter my shopping odyssey"

"We are buying a minivan! Just so I don't have to bend down and buckle in my kids anymore"

"Totally tried salt and vinegar chips on my turkey sandwich today. It was the best."

"My kids voices seem to have gained a 3 decibel higher range overnight."

"Kids, this is mommy's bowl of buttered popcorn (huge mixing bowl)- and this is your bowls (normal sized bowls) no sharing, we don't want each other's germs....(as in, I'm not going to share with you!)"

"Barbie and the Island Princess...instead of laughing at it's ridiculousness, I cried. Hard."

"Ugh there is nothing to blog about...except the foods I'm obsessed with"

In my case, they suddenly need another hair tie for their pants as well as their ponytail....and they want maternity clothes for Christmas.

So be on the lookout....there are pregnancy clues looking everywhere!

p.s. That picture is me three years ago it was Christmas and I was 8 months pregnant. I was tired. Very very tired. But I strained a smile for posterity's sake. Hooray for me.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Today's Mama Sleigh of Gifts

Today's Mama always have these amazing giveaways. The sleigh full of gifts for this year is worth over 3 THOUSAND dollars, and is pretty much everything you could ever want to make cool stuff. Screenprinting. Cricut. A bike. I think I would faint if I won. So you should enter...on second thought. You don't need all that stuff, if you don't enter my odds are better :) Just kidding. But I expect a consolation prize if you win and you heard about it from me.

Here's my official blog entry...
Mama’s Holiday Wish List MemeTodaysMama and Provo Craft are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What 5 items are on your holiday wish list this year? Glass mixing bowls, A candy thermometer, Martha Stewart's Craft Encylopedia, maternity clothes, and a huge mirror for my entryway.

2. What is your favorite handmade gift you have received? Blankets for my babies, my aunt makes amazing quilts that are heirlooms.

3. What handmade gift have you always wanted to tackle? Making a purse. I've never done it, but I have about a dozen tutorials printed off.

4. What was the best Christmas gift you received as a child? A huge castle 3-d puzzle. I love figuring out how to put it together, that's what I love about sewing.

5. What items are on your kid’s wish list this year? Princess anything and everything.

6. What is your favorite holiday food? Wasail, white chocolate chex mix, pecan I have to pick just one?

7. What will you be hand-crafting for the holidays? Calendars for the whole family, and some puzzle picture blocks, cookie jars for preschool, as well as Holiday message blocks.

8. What is your favorite holiday movie? Elf and Home Alone

9. Favorite holiday song? Celine Dion- Oh Holy Night

10. Favorite holiday pastime? I love baking all day long with my kids and decorating the christmas tree. And watching a new movie every night at my in-laws.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Butterfly Ice Cream Cake Goodness

How to make an Ice Cream Cake
(special thanks to Laura Oler for teaching me this cake/ice cream method)

1- "2 layer" cake mix- any normal sized box mix will do. We used Funfetti.
1- 2 qt container of ice cream- we used strawberry
1- large (16 oz) tub of cool whip. I used a little over half, so just an 8 oz one might not be enough.
Purple food coloring- and any candies you might use to decorate.
Butterfly cake pan, or shape of your choice. (Bought mine at michael's with 40% off coupon)
A cake leveler, or large serrated knife
Estimated cost for just the food- $7-$10.

1 day before the party, or super early in the morning if you're party is at night:
So here's what you do- prep the pan. Slather it with shortening, dust with flour, let no crack or molding be shiny.

Get out your mixer. Here's mine, named Natalie.

Make the cake mix as usual, pour into your pan, bake for time as outlined on the little booklet that comes with your pan. Or as usual for a round cake pan.

Let cool for 10 minutes in pan. Take a knife or cake leveler and trim the hump or uneven parts of the cake, so when it's flipped over, it's on a level surface. Put a plate over the back of the pan, flip it over, slide it onto the cooling rack.

Let cool for the next hour or so. Put your ice cream in the fridge to soften. Check it periodically to see how it's doing. When it's good and soft, do the next step.

(Side note, if you forget to put it in the fridge ahead of time, you can do like me and microwave it, but you'll end up with ice cream still slightly frozen in the middle, and soupy ice cream. You'll have to mix it together, it won't be pretty. Just think ahead a little.)

Then you wash out the pan, stick plastic wrap all over the inside.

Slice the cake in half, as shown above. Use a cake leveler (which makes it really easy) or a knife carefully. The tricky part is once it's cut, to put the pan over the cake, and flip it. Now there's two sides in the pan. I then put the rack back over it, stood it up vertical, and slowing seperated the pan and rack, pushing on each side so the top is in the pan and the bottom is on the rack. Good luck. A husband or friend might be helpful at this part.

Here comes the fun part

Slather the ice cream all over the cake. I used all 2 quarts. It gave a good inch or so layer of ice cream in the center. Flip the rack with the cake bottom onto the pan.

Cover with saran wrap and foil. Keep in the freezer for a minimum of 4 hours to freeze the ice cream, and I'm not sure the maximum. Place your cool whip in your fridge if it's not there already.

So that afternoon, or the next day or the day before the party or right before you serve...

Cover a baking sheet with foil if you're eating the cake another time. OR put small pieces of foil around the serving platter if you're serving right then.

Flip the cake onto the pan/platter. Peel off the plastic wrap. Cover it with cool whip, like the first picture here.

Take a small amount of cool whip (I used about 1 1/2 cups) and tint the color of your choice, put it in a plastic baggie, cut off the corner, and decorate as you'd like. Remember cool whip is thick, so I used a large opening and not a whole lot of detail, like rosettes or any of that fancy pants stuff.

If you're serving the cake in more than 10 minutes, stick plastic wrap and foil over the cake and freeze until serving. If you're eating immediately, pull out the foil and cut. Enjoy!

  • Use vanilla ice cream instead of cool whip (that's reportedly what baskin robbins does)
  • The cake/ice cream combinations are endless- mint ice cream with chocolate cake, chocolate and strawberry, etc.
  • Add crumbled up cookies or graham crackers under or over the ice cream layer.
  • Cupcakes- Coldstone makes these cupcakes that are similar concept yet delicious.
Enjoy your cake! It's worth the effort!
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