Friday, November 30, 2012

A Few of Our Favorite Things ~ Classical Kids Series and Pandora

Have you heard of the Classical Kids Series? They are a collection of CD's that are aimed at introducing children to classical composers through a fun story about the composer with their music all throughout. We have loved listening to these! The music is beautiful, of course, and the stories are fun and engaging. We've listened to a few, but by far, our favorite is Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery. After listening to this we realized just how much we love Vivaldi's music! So, right away, my kids ask if there is a Vivaldi station on Pandora, and lo and behold, there is!
If you would like to check out the Classical Kids Series, follow THIS LINK to Amazon. There is also a Christmas CD...we haven't listened to that one yet, but it looks to be great!

My children love music and often ask for me to put one of our favorite Pandora stations on in the mornings. And at this time of year we listen to Christmas music...obviously. :) Yes, we are one of those obnoxious families that start listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving....one month of our favorite genre of music just isn't enough! :) Here are a couple of our favorite Pandora stations.

Mannheim Steamroller (Holiday)

We LOVE this station! This is our favorite, hands down! Easy listening, lots of acoustic guitar, orchestral arrangements, and lots of our favorite Christmas hymns. Not to mention, Mannheim Steamroller is awesome, plain and simple! :)

Harry Connick Jr. (Holiday)

This is our go-to for our favorite Christmas songs. Jingle Bells, The Christmas Waltz, Marshmallow World, Sleigh Ride, etc. Lots of fun jazzy numbers, a nice mixture of The Rat Pack, and Harry or course! We listen to this usually while making Christmas cookies...it gives us a nice spring in our baking step!

Vince Guaraldi Trio (Holiday)

A new one to our Christmas playlist! This has tons of songs from the Charlie Brown cartoons (which we love!), and a lot of other smooth jazz numbers. A great nostalgic station.

What are some of your favorite types of music to listen to with your children at Christmas time?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ornaments in a Box

My parents visited this past week. The kids loved having their Nanny and Papa here visiting....and Joel and I loved having them here to hang out with at night and play games and eat lots of treats! Fellowship, especially family fellowship, is always so, so sweet!

My mom is a very project oriented person. We were in the kitchen a good deal of the time, baking together and making memories. She is also a very prepared person, and brought her own fun project to do with the children...an ornament making kit! These fun little snowflake ornaments were a big hit with the kiddos!

She bought them last year after Christmas at Target...they were super marked down. These little kits are really affordable, even at regular price...as you can see. $5.00 makes 25 ornaments! For the mom that has a hard time coming up with creative things to do with her children, or just doesn't have time to get activities together, these kits are a great resource. They come with tons of stickers that you can put on to the foam cut outs in any pattern you choose.


This kit in particular had little sparkle stickers that had tiny little papers on the backs....great for improving you little one's fine motor skills!

No two snowflakes are alike! The kids loved doing this, and loved the extra special time with Nanny and Papa! We plan on giving some of these little cuties out to our neighbors along with our SNOWMAN CARDS.

Creating with your kids definitely does not have to be some big, elaborate thing.  Here is a cute little MITTEN ORNAMENT KIT I found on Amazon.com. Get some simple kits and enjoy the time with them!




Christmastime is here...

Wow, is it just me, or did November literally fly by. No really. It flew.

My parents came to visit from Montana. They spent Thanksgiving with us...what a treat!

Thanksgiving yummies that my mom, Emma, and I made together. Pumpkin pie, apple pie, sweet potato casserole, fermented cranberry sauce.

Papa reading a story.

Painting ceramic ornaments with Nanny at the Dickens Fair.


Emma's piano recital was spectacular! We really are so proud of her and her hard work at the piano. It was a very special time!

Duet with her teacher.

Emma and Miss Amanda.

Elijah, Emma, and Sophia. Elijah and Sophia helped Emma play Jingle Bells, by jingling their bells:)


We went to the Dickens Fair on the day after Thanksgiving. What a fun time! If you are in the Bay Area, I would highly suggest checking it out! Especially if you are a Victorian England/Charles Dickens enthusiast. If you would like to check out some info on it, go HERE. We are big fans!!

We even had time to get some crafting in with Nanny and Papa (my parents)! I'll be writing up a little post about that.



This month I'll be wrangling up some easy ornament/gift projects and we'll share our Top 5 Favorite Christmas Goodies to Giveaway! That should be a good time...baking yummy treats is ALWAYS a good time, am I right?! :)

We hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving! Enjoy the Christmas Season!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Piano Recital Invitations

Emma is having a piano recital next week, so we decided to make some fun little invitations for it! They are very simple and were so fun to make!


We used blank cards that we bought in the $1 section at Target. Yay Target!

With a ruler and a pencil, draw a horizontal line across the middle of the card. Then draw many short vertical lines going to the bottom from the horizontal line. Mine were all between 1/4 and 1/2 an inch wide.

Then, cut up the short vertical lines to the long horizontal line.


Next, cut some thin short strips of black paper and glue them onto the "keyboard" you just created.

Finish  by going over the horizontal line with a Sharpie marker to make it pop.

There you have it! One sweet little piano recital invite all ready to be filled out!

This was a fun little project to work on with my lovely daughter. Perfect for the rainy afternoon we were enjoying. She also made sure we had our tea to keep us cozy. :) She is the definition of feminine, for sure! What a sweet!:)





 Enjoy you week before Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Three Hours

Today, my children played one thing for three hours. THREE. HOURS. They didn't bicker or argue. They shared and used lovely manners. Do you want to know what it was that held them captivated for three hours???  I thought you would! :)

A good friend of mine gave me her tried and true playdough recipe. We are in for some chilly and rainy days here in the Bay Area, so I knew we needed to have some kind of fun and new activity to do during the day. My sweet friend texted me her recipe and suggested putting glitter in it. I remembered seeing a "Snow Dough" recipe on Pinterest that put clear glitter into the dough and thought, oh how fun! Then I thought, to make it even more wintery (I know it's Fall) and holiday-ish, why not add some peppermint! And voila! The creation of Peppermint Sparkle Dough!

Peppermint Sparkle Playdough
2 C flour
2 T oil ( I used olive oil)
1/2 C salt (regular old iodized salt)
2 T cream of tartar
up to 2 C boiling water ( I put in 1 1/2 C at first and then added a bit more as needed. I did not use the full 2 C)
1 tsp. Peppermint extract (add more if you think you need more)
glitter



Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar, and oil in a large mixing bowl. Add the boiling water and  peppermint. Stir continuously until it becomes a sticky, combined dough. Allow it to cool, then knead until stickiness is gone. During the kneading, add in the glitter. I added some, kneaded a bit, added some more, and kneaded some more until I was happy with the glitter content. :) Store in an airtight container when your children are finished thoroughly enjoying themselves!



Emma commented on how easy the dough was to roll out and make shapes with. She said it reminds her of sugar cookie dough. The kids kept saying, "This makes me in the mood for real cookies!" It made me want some real cookies too!


Complete bliss! He was so proud of himself for cutting:)

Yummy cookies!!

Perfect placement!


I've never made homemade playdough before, and had a great first experience! I won't use any other recipe...why change when you've found a winner, right?!



You could also add in food coloring if you like, or cinnamon and nutmeg for a spicy aroma. Endless possibilities, and countless hours of imaginative play!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jingle All the Way!

Emma has a piano recital coming up. Her teacher thought it would be fun to include Sophia and Elijah in it, so they decided to play the song Jingle Bells. Well, thought I, we can't have a proper rendition of Jingle Bells without the bells! So, we decided to quickly make up some jingle bells on ribbon...or as we like to call them...Ribboned Jingle Bells. I'm sure 'ribboned' is not a word. Oh well! :)


For this little project, you will need:

jingle bells of assorted sizes....if you want, but you can use all the same size and it will be just fine (you can find jingle bells at any craft store)
thin ribbon
thicker ribbon
craft berry picks (optional)

First, cut about 8 inches of thin ribbon. String on your jingle bells. We used 4 per ribbon. Tie your ribbon together and knot it. Then, slide your jingle bells around to the knot to kind of hide it. Cut off any long tails.

Next, take a berry from your pick and insert it through the loop on the bell. Twist it around itself and cut off any excess wire from the pick. This step can be optional, but just adds to the festive look of your bells.


Don't they look pretty with the berries?
Finally, cut about 8 inches of your chosen thicker ribbon. Tie a knot down near the bells. Then, place one side through the loop of the thin ribbon and finish off the thick ribbon in a bow. I did this so the thick ribbon bow wouldn't slip out of place from the thin ribbon.


Finished product!
Now have fun!!! Jingle all the way!!!


Apple Pie Oatmeal




This has been a crowd pleaser in our home this Fall! It's super simple, and turns a bowl of plain old oatmeal into something so much more delicious!

Apple Pie Oatmeal

3 apples; peeled, cored, chopped
4 T butter
1/4 C brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Prepared oatmeal *

In a saucepan, over medium, heat apples, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until the apples are slightly softened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Spoon mixture over servings of oatmeal. Add a little butter and milk and enjoy!


* We soak our oats overnight. This adds to the nutritional value of the oats, and the digestibility.  If you would like to read more about it, visit THIS SITE. I soak my oats a little differently than the gal on that site does. Here is what I do:

Put 2 C of oats into a glass container. Add 1 tsp. celtic sea salt and 4 T kefir (or yogurt). Pour filtered water til covering the oats. Cover and let sit overnight. In the morning, drain, place oats in a pot and add about 2 more cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until thickened to your liking.


The children are just crazy about this Apple Pie Oatmeal! And my husband, who is usually not that into oatmeal, really likes it too! He said it's his favorite way to have oatmeal...even better than baked oatmeal!