Monday, 30 December 2013

Let It Snow...

Though I may not be that fond of snow and cold and wind and winter in general, I am rather fond of my kids - who happen to love this time of year. Kids cannot get enough of snow angels, snowmen, snowforts and snowball fights. Kids can play outdoors in the snow for hours on end and are seemingly impervious to the cold.

And there is something special about a day spent in the crisp outdoors, bundled up from head to toe.

Lacing up the skates to circle the pond or hauling the sleds up the highest hill at the park; heading out to hike through the ravine or visit the winter animals at the zoo; playing in the backyard, rolling and wrestling and tumbling through the snow, building and playing and wearing ourselves out, then coming inside with rosy cheeks and matted hair and lungs filled with fresh air to curl up with steaming mugs of hot chocolate and warm our frozen toes by the fire.

Wecome to our Canadian winter!

zoo, winter, Canadian winter, animals, animal photography
Reindeer
wolf, animals, zoo, Canadian winter, winter, animal photography 
Arctic Wolves

animals, zoo, winter, Canadian winter, animal photography
Snowy Owl




















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Friday, 27 December 2013

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful (Winter Crafts)

The weather in the weeks leading up to Christmas has been excessively wintery - snowstorm after snowstorm, freezing rain and biting wind and slippery sidewalks and treacherous streets and finally, the weekend before Christmas, the biggest ice storm this city has seen in half a century knocking out half the city's power for a few days.

It's cold. Like, take-your-breath-away, tears-freeze-on-your-eyelashes cold.

But every time there's a light dusting of fresh snow the kids want to go play outside. Which would be absolutely fine if I could just bundle them up and trundle them out the back door into the yard. But for some inexplicable reason they want me to come with them every time.

Every. Single. Time.

I have no idea why. I'm not an awful lot of fun outdoors in the winter - I tend to shiver and whine a lot. But they insist. And most of the time I give in.

But it's one thing to go play in the snow when it's hovering around zero degrees and the sun is shining and the world is blanketed in fluffy white snow perfect for packing into snowballs and snowforts and sledding down hills on. It's quite another when it's twenty-five below and the ground is frozen solid and the wind is biting and sharp little slivers of ice prick your frozen cheeks like a thousand tiny needles.

So I came up with some fun winter crafts to keep the kids occupied indoors on this icy afternoon.


crafts, kids crafts, winter crafts, winter activities
Marshmallow Snowflakes

Marshmallow Snowflake Craft

Marshmallows, toothpicks and thread are all you need for this simple craft.

Use the toothpicks to form the frame of the snowflake. Use the marshmallows for the toothpick connections. Then use your imagination and as many marshmallows as you can squeeze on to make each snowflake unique!

We hung the finished marshmallows from the window and threaded more marshmallows for falling "snow."

Paper Snowflake Winter Tree Craft

crafts, kids crafts, winter crafts, winter activities
Paper snowflakes

For these winter trees we cut out dozens of paper snowflakes, then threaded them onto a dollar store craft cone.

crafts, kids crafts, winter crafts, winter activities
Paper snowflake tree









And we have our own Winter Wonderland - without having had to set foot outside!


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Wednesday, 25 December 2013

A Family Christmas in Photos

snow, ice, trees, winter, berries, Christmas
Winter Wonderland
Christmas, kids, The Night Before Christmas
Storytime with Mrs. Claus
Christmas, kids, family, float, parade, Santa
Santa Claus Parade
Christmas, kids
Letters from Santa
Santa's village, Christmas decoration, Christmas kitsch
Santa's Village
star, kids, Christmas, Christmas tree, family, traditions
Topping the Christmas tree
Christmas, tree, decorations, ornaments
Family Christmas Tree
Christmas craft, kids craft, Christmas ornament, Christmas tree, paper cup craft
Macaroni Christmas Tree Ornament Craft
Christmas, crafts, kids crafts, thumbprint crafts, Christmas tree
Thumbprint Reindeer Ornament Craft
Christmas craft, crafts, kids crafts, handprint crafts
Reindeer Handprint Craft
Christmas tree, Christmas baking, kids, Christmas, family, traditions
 Gingerbread House & Christmas Candy Crafts
gingerbread cookies, shortbread cookies, Christmas baking
Christmas cookie platter - shortbread & gingerbread
Christmas cookies, Christmas baking
Christmas cookies
cross-stitch, embroidery, kids, fireplace, tradition,
Hand-embroidered Christmas stockings
(a special gift from the kids' Great-Grandma)
cross-stitch, embroidery, Christmas, kids, fireplace, Santa
Christmas stocking
cross-stitch, embroidery, Christmas, kids, snowmen, fireplace
Christmas stocking
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Christmas cocktails for Mom & Dad

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Monday, 23 December 2013

Salt Dough Christmas Ornament Craft

Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments, crafts, kids craftsSalt dough ornaments are a really easy craft for kids that require very little help from Mommy. And they make great decorations for the Christmas tree or gifts for grandparents for the holidays!

Salt Dough Recipe:

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water

Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments, crafts, kids crafts


Salt Dough Ornaments:

1. Preheat oven to 325F.
2. Measure, mix and knead dough in large bowl (fun for little ones to do themselves!)
3. Roll out dough onto floured surface.
4. Use cookie cutters to make shapes
5. Make a hole in the top of the shape with a wooden skewer to create a hole for ribbon.
6. Bake for 20-30 min. (depending on size of cut-outs), cool on rack 20-30 min.
7. Paint and decorate!

Salt Dough Christmas Handprint Ornament, crafts, kids crafts


Salt Dough Handprints: 

Follow steps 1-3 as above.
4. Press hand firmly into dough.
5. Bake for 30 min. and cool on rack for several hours or overnight.
6. Paint and decorate!
Salt Dough Christmas Handprint Ornament, crafts, kids crafts
My boys are gifting their handprint crafts to my husband for Christmas this year (shhh!) so we wanted to make each one unique. Eldest Child's is painted as snowmen with a blue sky background and play clay carrot noses. Middle Child's is a Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer with Bendaroos antlers, a red felt nose and a gold bead harness. And Baby went crazy with the red, gold and green paint for his colourful handprint.

Salt Dough Christmas Handprint Ornament, crafts, kids crafts

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Friday, 20 December 2013

Glass Jar Christmas Craft

Glass Jar Santa Craft, crafts, kids crafts, Christmas crafts


These glass jar Christmas characters are cute little crafts for kids and very easy to make. Place them in the window when they're finished to capture the light - little ones can be fascinated watching the coloured water sparkle in the sunlight for ages.

Glass Jar Santa and Elf, crafts, kids craftsYou will need:
  • glass mason jars (any size)
  • water 
  • food colouring
  • cotton batting
  • construction paper
  • play clay


Glass Jar Snowman Craft, Christmas crafts, crafts, kids crafts

Glass Jar Snowman

Fill the glass jar with cotton batting.
Cut a top hat out of construction paper and glue onto the top of the jar.
Use play clay to make eyes and decorate.



Glass Jar Santa Craft, Christmas crafts, kids crafts, crafts

Glass Jar Santa

Fill the glass jar with water. Add red food colouring.
Cut a Santa hat out of construction paper and glue onto the top of the jar.
Use play clay to make eyes and mouth.
Glue cotton batting to jar for beard, mustache and hat trim.
Cut belt out of construction paper and glue around middle of jar.



Glass Jar Elf Craft, Christmas crafts, crafts, kids crafts

Glass Jar Elf

Fill the glass jar with water. Add green food colouring.
Cut pointy elf hat out of construction paper and glue onto the top of the jar.
Use play clay to make eyes and mouth.
Glue cotton batting to jar for beard and hat trim.







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Reindeer Handprint Craft

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Paper Cup Ornaments - Preschool Christmas Craft

Christmas craft, kids craft, Christmas tree, Christmas ornament
Bead ornament craft
These paper cup Christmas ornaments are a fun, easy craft for little hands. Simple cone-shaped paper cups turned upside-down make an easy Christmas tree shape; let the kids stretch their imaginations with crafting supplies and Christmas decorations to turn them into works of art to hang on your festive family tree!


Beads...

Wind strands of dollar store beads around the paper cup. Top with a gold bow.


Christmas tree, Christmas ornament, Christmas craft, kids craft
Ribbon ornament craft

Ribbon...

Wrap the paper cup in layers of pretty Christmas ribbon and top with a matching bow.

Christmas ornament, Christmas tree, Christmas craft, kids craft
Wrapping paper ornament craft

Wrapping paper...

Wrap the paper cup in festive Christmas wrapping paper and decorate with glitter, gems and a construction paper star.


Christmas craft, kids craft, Christmas ornament, Christmas tree
Macaroni ornament craft

Macaroni...

Glue macaroni to cover paper cone. Paint green. Decorate with glitter and gems.

Such a fun holiday craft for little ones!


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kids, candy, Christmas crafts, Christmas activities

Monday, 16 December 2013

Festive Food (Candy Christmas Crafts!)

kids, candy, Christmas crafts, Christmas activities
Gingerbread house & ice cream cone Christmas trees
There's a lot of fun to be had with cookies and candy and baking and decorating over the holidays. We build and decorate a traditional gingerbread house every year, but with so many extra treats still left over from Halloween this year we thought we'd add a few more fun food projects. These fabulous festive food activities for kids are a great way to combine Christmas crafting and fun in the kitchen - and make tasty holiday treats!

  
candy, Christmas crafts, Christmas activities, kids crafts

Ice Cream Cone Christmas Trees

For these Christmas trees, turn a pointed ice cream cone upside-down. Coat with green icing and decorate with sprinkles, coloured sugar, chocolate chips, candy and coconut "snow."

candy, Christmas crafts, Christmas activities, kids crafts

Marshmallow Snowmen

candy, Christmas crafts, Christmas activities, kids craftsFor these marshmallow snowmen, run a toothpick through three large marshmallows. Drizzle with white icing and decorate with sprinkles, coloured sugar, chocolate chips, candy and coconut "snow."


Buttercream icing recipe:

4 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup soft butter
Mix all ingredients until creamy texture. Add more sugar as necessary to desired texture; should be thick, not runny. Add colour as necessary.



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Friday, 13 December 2013

Santa Claus is coming to town!

Santa's village, Christmas decoration, Christmas kitsch
Santa's village train set

With weeks left to go until Christmas we are already knee-deep in glitter and gold and holiday spirit.

After warming up for the holiday season with hot chocolate and gingerbread and a cozy afternoon curled up watching the Santa Claus Parade on tv the Christmas season was suddenly upon us.

Reindeer Handprint Craft
Reindeer handprint craft



We wrote out our wish lists and mailed our letters to Santa. We made dozens of Christmas crafts.


Christmas, baking, kids
Gingerbread house




We built and decorated a gingerbread house and baked batch after batch of delicious Christmas cookies. 

We set up Santa's village and the train set. We draped the house in glitter and gold: gold ornaments hung from every mirror, glittery wire trees on every shelf, crystal bowls and vases spilling over with gold balls on every table.


Christmas, kids, The Night Before Christmas
Storytime with Mrs. Claus

We bundled up and braved a surprise blizzard to shiver through the local Santa Claus Parade, barely able to see the marching bands and floats through the blowing snow. We joined the Mayor and Town Crier for the tree lighting ceremony and caroling. We went to storytime with Mrs. Claus for her annual reading of "The Night Before Christmas." We visited Santa at the mall for a photo and to confirm wish lists.

We're counting down the days with advent calendar chocolates every morning and a Christmas story before bed every night.

Christmas decorations
And, of course, the Christmas tree: a masterpiece of mismatched Christmas collections. Lots of red and gold and glittery balls. Nutcrackers and snowmen gifted by the grandparents every year. Colourful plastic baubles still left from when we were kids. Handmade thumbprint ornaments and beaded candy canes and macaroni Christmas trees and craft foam gingerbread men, lovingly crafted by our boys every year. 
We always get a real tree - there's nothing like the smell of a real tree to make a home feel really Christmasy - and we make an all-day project out of decorating it together.

gingerbread cookies, shortbread cookies, Christmas baking

Mother Nature has obliged this year with a blanket of fluffy white snow coat and we are looking forward to spending our last few weeks before Christmas curled up in front of the fire with shortbread, hot chocolate and holiday movies.


Merry Christmas!



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