Archive for ‘Winter’

January 21, 2015

14 Traditions for Valentine’s Day

IMG_4762I think cupid shot me with an arrow because I am all about Valentine’s Day.  I don’t know what it is, I just think it is the greatest holiday.  What’s not to love about love?  Last year, I experimented with all sorts of ideas to see what sort of traditions I wanted to start doing and keep doing with my family.  These are the things I will do again this year:

1)      Celebrate Feb 1 – Feb 14:  It is more fun, yummier, and provides more memories to celebrate the holiday for the first half of February.

2)      Get Individual Mail Boxes for Your Family Members: Bring these out no earlier than February 1st.  Your kids just won’t be able to resist them once they are out.

3)      Provide Stationary for Valentines: This can be as simple as cutting out square pieces of paper to as fancy as providing colored envelopes, stickers, and doilies. This really increases your chances of getting a sweet note–and then come the water works.

4)      Make Daily Valentines For Your Family Members Before February: I did this for the first time last year and my kid’s really looked forward to them every day.  They were REALLY cheesy and I loved it! They had some sort of candy or knick-knack as a sort of play-on-words.  For example, “You’re a Star!” (and leave 1 or 2 Starbursts).  My husband did not necessarily need the Valentine note, but he did like a little daily treat.  I would suggest doing this before February and hiding them in a shoebox some place.  It becomes more of a stress than something enjoyable if you have to think them up every day.

5)      Enjoy Some Family Dates & Activities: One day we picked up small Slurpee’s and some Kid movies from Redbox and had a movie night.  Another day I took my girl to a sing-along version of the movie Frozen. Other ideas are to have a dance party at home, or play “Cupid Says” instead of “Simon Says.”

6)      Buy or Make Valentine’s for Classmates & Teachers:  This is my number one memory of Valentine’s Day.

7)      Make and Send Valentines to Extended Family:  You can’t forget Grandma’s, Grandpa’s, Aunties, and Uncles.  This is also something you need to do earlier in the month to make sure they get in the mail on time.

8)      Make Heart-Shaped Sugar Cookies:  This is just a must.  We decorated these with friends and also gave some to neighbors.  It’s a fun way to share the love.

9)      Make a Valentine Craft to Display Throughout the Years: This does not need to happen every year but is something I want to do because I will enjoy placing them on my mantel as decoration.

10)   Have a Special Valentine-Making Family Night:  My 9-year-old daughter organized this and it turned out to be very special.  She gathered all the card making supplies, and wrote everyone’s name and put them in a bowl.  We each choose a name, and spent our time making just one Valentine for that person.  She was so cute; she even gave us examples of sweet things we could write in the cards.  She would not let us read them until Valentine’s Day.  It made the morning of Valentine’s Day that much more special.

11)   Have Heart Shaped Red Themed Food on Valentine’s Day: We had a creamy tomato basil soup that was delicious, but I think I’ll probably make different things through the years for our Valentine’s meal.  But our drink and dessert will probably always be #12 and #13.

12)   Make Shirley Temples: This drink is a crowd pleaser.  It is fancy and red the kids can help make it.  You basically just fill your cup with ice, sprite or ginger ale, a few maraschino cherries, and 1 teaspoon or so of grenadine syrup.

13)   Make Chocolate Fondue: We had this for dessert on Valentine’s day and it went over well.  I am still on a hunt to find the right recipe, but it is hard to not enjoy any form of melted chocolate.  Our favorite thing to dip was cream puffs and strawberries.

14)   Do Something Special for your Spouse: Now what exactly you do is up to you.  But definitely take time to celebrate each other.

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February 2, 2014

Thanks for Being a “Piece”-Maker

IMG_4600Being a peacemaker is something we talk a lot about in our home.  My husband and I are trying to teach our kids how to lower their voices, apologize to end a fight, not moan or make a fuss when asked to do something, and the list goes on and on.  You know, all of those things you work on daily to maintain or bring peace to your home.  I was thinking about Valentine’s Day coming up and trying to come up with a way to bring more love into our home, and this play on words popped into my mind.  I’ve tried it out a few days and the kids love it.  They really feel good when I have caught them being a peacemaker and ask them to please help themselves to a piece of candy.  I think I’ll pull this jar out at other holidays as well.  Heaven knows, peace is something worth striving for all year long.

January 6, 2014

Making Enjoyable New Year’s Resolutions

Parker 11 cropI think I am old enough and have seen enough New Year’s resolutions come and go to realize they simply don’t work.  I’m taking a different spin on things this year.  I could easily make workout goals, eating goals, and goals for dealing with poor behavior in my children.  And I’m not saying I should not work on all those things, but I just don’t think the New Year is the time to do that.  I think the New Year is about celebrating the past year and looking forward to the year to come.

Instead of asking myself what I need to do better, I’m asking what I enjoyed doing and should do more of.  And this is what I came up with.  For my baby boy, I want to make sure that I read a book to him every day.  For my six-year-old who really loves to be cuddled,  I want to take time to put her on my lap and cuddle her each day.  For my nine-year-old who is bursting with thoughts and ideas, I want to make sure and stop what I am doing and really listen to her at least once each day.  For my husband who is taking on more hours each day so that he can have an extra day off every other week, I want to really enjoy that day with him with a date.  And for me, I want to allow myself to have a treat whenever I darn well feel like it.  And that, my friends, is how I think one should make a New Year’s Resolution.  Let’s enjoy more of the good things.

Have a blessed and enjoyable 2014!

December 31, 2013

Easy New Year’s Eve Traditions for Families

photoI realized the night before New Year’s Eve that we have absolutely no traditions except of course a toast of sparkling cider. I looked on Pinterest and there are some really wonderful ideas out there from some really amazing and creative Moms. But after the Christmas holiday, I am pooped, and I want and easy and enjoyable New Year’s Eve. I talked it over with my husband and this is what we came up with:

  • Takeout Chinese Food
  • Hooking the computer up to our TV and doing a slideshow of all of our 2013 pictures
  • Filling out a Happy New Year – family form to take some time to reflect on ourselves, what we enjoy, and what we look forward to doing next year. I developed this based on various ideas I saw on the internet and implementing some ideas of my own. Feel free to take it and print it off. If you make it any better or more cute, I would love a copy! This will be fun to look at as the years go by.
  • Game night with our board games.
  • We will never stray from our tradition of toasting with the some sparkling cider and ringing in the New Year. However we will celebrate EST at 9:00 p.m.

Happy New Year everyone!

December 11, 2013

My Daughter’s Delicious Hot Chocolate Recipe

IMG_4336I really don’t think an adult could come up with this concoction; I actually thought my daughter was crazy at first.  I thought that peppermint candy cane and cinnamon Red Hots belong in separate categories, and never the two shall meet.  But I was wrong.  Together they produce the taste of Christmas in your mouth, and I dare you to try it.

1 serving of your favorite mint cocoa, prepared*
1 t crushed peppermint candy cane
5-10 Red Hots
1 dollop whip cream
Mix and enjoy.

* We like Stephen’s Candycane Cocoa and in second place comes Stephen’s Chocolate Mint Truffle.

December 22, 2011

Dip Just About Anything in Chocolate

My family lives thousands of miles apart, so when we get together we really like to live it up.  Whenever we manage to see each other for Thanksgiving, we carry on through the weekend celebrating Christmas as well.  My sister thought up a fun activity for all the grandkids this year–making their own stocking candy.  They did this by dipping all sorts of things (pretzels, cookies, dried fruit, etc.) in chocolate.  Okay, when I say chocolate, I really mean almond bark (white and milk chocolate) and Wilton Candy Melts (the peppermint flavor).  You use these instead of real chocolate because it melts more easily and at a lower temperature, so there is little chance of burning little fingers. It was fun for the kids, they really can’t mess it up, and they loved adding toppings to their dipped treats.

I made some holiday treats this past week for teachers and friends.  My favorite thing we dipped over Thanksgiving was Oreos in peppermint candy melts so I had to retry that.  You can find the almond bark in the baking aisle of most grocery stores (it looks like small bricks of chocolate).  However, to find the more unique dipping flavors, you go to craft stores.  I found the Wilton Candy Melts at Jo-Anns Fabrics, but you can also look at Michaels in either the cake decorating or wedding aisle.  You melt them in the microwave as stated in the directions.  If you can’t figure out how to put your microwave at 50% power, just melt for less time and stir and continue this until melted and smooth.  I found that my favorite way to dip the Oreo was completely on the bottom and only half way on the top.  I then sprinkled it with crushed peppermint candy cane.  It was heaven!

You will want some parchment or wax paper to place the dipped goods on so they can be easily peeled off after drying.  Oh, and another tip I learned is when you’re finished, wash the bowl immediately or the chocolate will re-harden.  I had to put my bowl back in the microwave to re-melt it so I could wash out the bowl.

This is my first experience with dipping things in chocolate, but I know I’ll continue doing it.   It is economical, fun, you can be creative, and you can include the kids.  Next year, in addition to the Oreos (because let’s be honest, I think I’m already craving them again), I am going to dip long thick pretzels in milk and dark chocolate and also sprinkle them with crushed peppermint candy cane.  I think I see a pattern in what I like, what about you?