Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Magician’s Nephew, DIY Narnia theme

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And back to Narnia!  We’ve been up to some more DIY (do it yourself) Narnia theme stuff.  I’m still here with the Magician’s Nephew.  I wanted to include a photo of the book cover from the books that I grew up reading, since they seem a little rare.  These ones were published in 1983 and were new when we were given a boxed set of the 7 books.  I remember that I wasn’t allowed to read them right away, I had to wait till I was older (10, I think) and I used to gaze in longing at the box…which looked like this:

The illustrations for the covers and box were by Stephen Lavis.  Here’s the cover of the first book, and this is how I will always think of it.  I loved these illustrations, and like that each book had one of the symbols from that story on the front cover.  This one has the apple…DIY Narnia theme, C.S. Lewis quote from The Magician's Nephew by dennasideas.comAnd about that apple…..I made some (totally awesome) caramel apples for one of our Narnia treats.  For the special apple that Digory picked, I used some edible silver spray paint to make it shine.  That caramel was so so very good, I feel like being greedy and not sharing the recipe for it, but that doesn’t seem quite right….so you can find it here.  If you really want.  But you might not want to because it’s really full of calories and sugar and all that stuff.  But just in case you really want to, I will share.  Oh wait, I can’t find the link, too bad.  If you reallllly want it, beg and I’ll look for the recipe!! 😉Caramel apple for Narnia theme, the Magician's Nephew by dennasideas.comHere’s the apple and a quote from the end of the book after he gets the apple and takes it home….DIY Narnia theme, C.S. Lewis quote from The Magician's Nephew by dennasideas.comAnd now for some DIY ideas from our display.  Start with some empty bottles…DIY Narnia theme, The Magician's Nephew by dennasideas.comThis the quote that I wanted to portray in this part of the display in our living room…DIY Narnia theme, C.S. Lewis quote from The Magician's Nephew by dennasideas.comWe had the bottles, now for the candles.  All candles now-a-days seem to be dripless.  So these ones needed some help.  Now, I’ve always been careful about letting my kids play with fire, but I figured they are quite old enough now, and when I remember all the fun stuff Henry and I did playing with fire when we were kids….(we did live in cement houses), it seemed like a good time….DIY Narnia theme, The Magician's Nephew by dennasideas.comUsing other candles, we dripped wax down the sides of candles in bottles.  Then we melted crayons to add some different colors.  Then we lit crayons as torches.  I heard that one crayon can burn for 30 minutes.  You never know when that fact might come in handy.DIY Narnia theme, The Magician's Nephew by dennasideas.comAnd then parts of supper (garbanzo beans) were roasted over the candles…DIY Narnia theme, The Magician's Nephew by dennasideas.comIt was all fun, and made a great ambiance for our supper, and later, a perfect Narnia display.  Oh, here’s something that didn’t make it into the display though I really wanted one…a guinea pig!DIY Narnia theme, C.S. Lewis quote from The Magician's Nephew by dennasideas.comI came up with another fun display or diorama thing, with Fledge the winged horse and Digory when he’s in the walled garden.  If you look closely you can see the witch hiding behind the tree with an apple in her hand, and the sleepy-looking bird in the tree.  The cutouts look really cool in the bonsai tree, but the coolness doesn’t show up the in the photos!  The lighting is so terrible today, a grey cold winter day…so photographing the tree felt impossible….these are the best photos I could get…
DIY Narnia theme, C.S. Lewis, Narnia diorama  from The Magician's Nephew by dennasideas.comDIY Narnia theme, C.S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew by dennasideas.comDIY Narnia theme, C.S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew by dennasideas.comAnd this is what the gate at the walled garden said:DIY Narnia theme, C.S. Lewis quote from The Magician's Nephew by dennasideas.comA few more quotes from The Magician’s Nephew.  Can you tell I’m having fun with this theme??DIY Narnia theme, C.S. Lewis quote from The Magician's Nephew by dennasideas.comDIY Narnia theme, C.S. Lewis quote from The Magician's Nephew by dennasideas.com

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Last minute Thanksgiving ideas

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Last minute Thanksgiving ideas

Happy Thanksgiving to our American family and friends!  It’s always great to celebrate and give God thanks for all His blessings!

There were a couple of extra Thanksgiving ideas that I forgot to add to my Canadian Thanksgiving post so I thought I’d quickly share them here.  I’m always doing things last minute and I’m wondering if anyone else does it too….so here are some free printables and ideas for some last minute Thanksgiving decor! Last minute Thanksgiving ideas by dennasideas.com

These lovely printable pages are from Hope Ink, and I printed them off on kraft colored cardstock.  Here is the cozy house coloring page  and the cute turkey coloring page.  Perfect for Thanksgiving!  I used them for decorating my piano, and then forgot to let the kids color them!  Last minute Thanksgiving ideas by dennasideas.comThey would look great colored in with those really nice colored pencils (Prismacolor I think?)

I found another great printable at The Creativity Exchange for a child’s chalkboard place-mat.  This is such a fun idea, to have a black area that can be used as a chalkboard.  I printed out the regular-paper sized one, also on kraft cardstock, so the plate is oval shaped, but if you print out the larger size the plate is round.  My printer’s out of colored ink, so the color you see here isn’t what would print out on your printer! 🙂  Here’s our Menu for today:Last minute Thanksgiving ideas by dennasideas.com Last minute Thanksgiving ideas by dennasideas.comIt would make a great place setting with your guest’s name written on it in chalk….or just a fun place-mat for the kids to write on!

Oh yes, there’s also the printable that I came up with for my living room frame…you can find the link here.Thanksgiving printable by dennasideas.com, easy Fall Decor ideas from denna's ideas!

Some more last minute Thanksgiving decor ideas….use fruit.  Wooden fruit, plastic fruit or real fruit.  I was looking through some old Thanksgiving photos and noticed that that is what I tend to do.  Especially grapes.  Grapes appear adorning a naked turkey (in the family photo), and around jello salad and on plates, cake stands, everywhere!  So that’s my big advice.  Have some grapes on hand, and maybe a few other fruits.  Just in case.  You never know.Last minute Thanksgiving ideas by dennasideas.com Last minute Thanksgiving ideas by dennasideas.comAnd if you are really running last minute and the turkey isn’t thawed and the pies aren’t baked….Last minute Thanksgiving ideas by dennasideas.comYou can always do what Charlie Brown did……serve them buttered toast, popcorn, jelly beans and pretzels!!!  Charlie Brown Thanksgiving meal by dennasideas.com🙂 The idea is to be together and to be grateful.  The rest is all “dressing”!!Last minute Thanksgiving ideas by dennasideas.com

The Magician’s Nephew: How to make Narnia Ring cookies

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The Magician’s Nephew: How to make Narnia Ring cookies

The Magician’s Nephew is the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis, and I’ve always thought that it’s my favorite.  “It is a very important story because it shows how all the comings and goings between our own world and the land of Narnia first began.”  (Though every time I start reading any book from the series, I think this one is my favorite!)  Can you tell I’ve got Narnia on the brain?  Let’s start at the very beginning….

When I first thought of having a Narnia theme around here, I thought: a display.  Then I thought: baking.  That’s how my brain works.  How to display something edible with a theme.  That’s what it’s all about, people!

So in today’s post I have our first display, for the first book, The Magician’s Nephew.  The book starts out with two children named Polly and Digory exploring an old house, and accidentally ending up in Uncle Andrew’s study.  He is a magician, or magician wanna-be and has supposedly found a way to travel to a different world.  Or at least he thinks it’s possible, but has only tried it out on a guinea pig, who unfortunately can’t tell anything about his experiences in the other world!  So Uncle Andrew needs someone else to try it out!  But not himself, of course!  He offers to let Polly have one of the lovely shiny yellow rings that are humming on a red wooden tray on his desk….The Magician's Nephew: The Chrionicles of Narnia, Book 1.  How to make Narnia Ring cookies by dennasideas.com

I love the image of the red wooden tray with the shiny green and yellow rings!  I knew that it had to be a part of my display.  I had already decided to start off with things that would remind me of Uncle Andrew’s study.  I dug around in our basement and found some old-looking and even just large books.  Some old candlesticks, an ancient globe, anything that looked old.   (I wanted sealing wax and an old microscope, but didn’t have them on hand!)  My old wooden “treasure chest” with safari animals on it was perfect, representing the secret box where Uncle Andrew first found the dust from another world, and the safari animals were perfect graphics for the animals who burst out of the ground in the new land of Narnia!  There are a few other symbols in here that weren’t from the study, but just appeared in the rest of the book (like the golden apple, but more on that later!)The Magician's Nephew: The Chrionicles of Narnia, Book 1.  How to make Narnia Ring cookies by dennasideas.com

Back to the red tray….I thought a lot about it.  How to do it?  I didn’t want to buy anything for this project, (except the special plastic animals, in this case, the winged horse).  A picture frame could work as a tray….yay, found one from an old school award.  Next step: to paint.  My son was happy to help me out with this project and painted the frame and a piece of cardboard red.  After that, we added some wood-look lines and a few sprays of glimmery paint, then a bit of distressing with brown paint.  I really really wanted to make handles for this tray, and spent a lot of brain power on it, but didn’t end up having the time.  Assemble the frame without the glass, presto, a tray!The Magician's Nephew: The Chrionicles of Narnia, Book 1.  How to make Narnia Ring cookies by dennasideas.com

Next: the rings.  That took a lot of thought, and it wasn’t till the last minute that I thought of making cookies.  But how perfect  (much better than another idea of cutting up paper rolls from toilet paper).  Here are the cookies, step by step.  Many of the photos were taken by my son, as those are my awkward-looking hands in the photos.  For the cookies, I used the End-All for chocolate cookies recipe from Lilaloa, so yummmy, and melted Wilton candy melts for the icing.

Cut out small circles cookies.  They are about 1 and 1/2 inch cookies.The Magician's Nephew: The Chrionicles of Narnia, Book 1.  How to make Narnia Ring cookies by dennasideas.comMelt up some black candy melts in a small baggie and snip off a corner.  Outline 2 circles per cookie.The Magician's Nephew: The Chrionicles of Narnia, Book 1.  How to make Narnia Ring cookies by dennasideas.comThe Magician's Nephew: The Chrionicles of Narnia, Book 1.  How to make Narnia Ring cookies by dennasideas.com(When I saw these photos I realized how strangely I hold the icing bags! ha!  And don’t worry, that is fresh chocolate candy melt under my fingernail!)The Magician's Nephew: The Chrionicles of Narnia, Book 1.  How to make Narnia Ring cookies by dennasideas.comWith yellow candy melts, snip off a bigger corner and fill in outlines that have already set.  Then go for the green!The Magician's Nephew: The Chrionicles of Narnia, Book 1.  How to make Narnia Ring cookies by dennasideas.comBefore the “icing” on each cookie had set, I added a small white line for a bit of a “shine” on one side of each ring.  Then later when they were set and hardened, added a white asterisk to make it look like a sparkle.  Can’t leave well enough alone,  I wanted more shine.  I painted on a bit of silver sparkle, too.  It went faster than it sounds.  Really.The Magician's Nephew: The Chrionicles of Narnia, Book 1.  How to make Narnia Ring cookies by dennasideas.comAll that spiffing up and you can hardly notice…. !  The Magician's Nephew: The Chrionicles of Narnia, Book 1.  How to make Narnia Ring cookies by dennasideas.comSet out the rings in pairs of yellow and green on the red tray!  We’re ready to travel to the Wood between the Worlds and on to Narnia…The Magician's Nephew: The Chrionicles of Narnia, Book 1.  How to make Narnia Ring cookies by dennasideas.com(My son was practicing some fancy photography techniques…)  This is how Polly must have felt when she touched the yellow ring….The Magician's Nephew: The Chrionicles of Narnia, Book 1.  How to make Narnia Ring cookies by dennasideas.com“They were no bigger than ordinary rings, and no one could help noticing them because they were so bright.  They were the most beautifully shiny little things you can imagine.  If Polly had been a very little younger she would have wanted to put one in her mouth.”  (I have always loved that description!)The Magician's Nephew: The Chrionicles of Narnia, Book 1.  How to make Narnia Ring cookies by dennasideas.comI think the “funnest” part about these ring cookies, was sending them to school in my kids’ lunches, then asking them if they had whisked off to Narnia during Math class!!! 😉

C.S. Lewis quotes

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I mentioned yesterday that there was a reason why we were starting our Narnia Christmas theme early, here in November.  This month is when a great writer is remembered.  I grew up reading The Chronicles of Narnia and have always loved them.  My kids and I have listened to the radio theatre dramatizations of these books about 100 times, and we have enjoyed the recent movies.  Of course, these books aren’t the only creations of C.S. Lewis.  There are many other wonderful books, essays and poems by him.  A very brief bio:

Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963), commonly called C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as “Jack”, was a novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist. Born in Belfast, Ireland, he held academic positions at both Oxford University (Magdalen College), 1925–1954, and Cambridge University (Magdalene College), 1954–1963. He is best known both for his fictional work, especially The Screwtape LettersThe Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy, and for his non-fiction Christian apologetics, such as Mere ChristianityMiracles, and The Problem of Pain.

His works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies. The books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia have sold the most and have been popularized on stage, TV, radio, and cinema.

Lewis died one week before his 65th birthday. Media coverage of his death was minimal; he died on 22 November 1963—the same day that U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the same day another famous author, Aldous Huxley, died. This has led to the date of his death often being overshadowed by that of Kennedy.

Lewis continues to attract a wide readership. In 2008, The Times ranked him eleventh on their list of “the 50 greatest  British writers since 1945”. In 2013, on the 50th anniversary of his death, Lewis joined some of Britains greatest writers recognized at Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey.  (This whole quote is from wikipedia)

Before I begin my posts about our Narnia Christmas, I wanted to recognize the brilliant author behind the land of Narnia.  You may have heard some of the following quotes and not realized who they were from!  C.S. Lewis quote, on dennasideas.com

C.S. Lewis quote, on dennasideas.comThere’s a site here with lots of C.S. Lewis quotes.  The following are just a few from that site, since I don’t have time to type them all out!! 🙂


And of course I love this one, 

C.S. Lewis quote - hardship

you can find some free printable quotes like this one below, here at Oaxacaborn The scent of a flower - C.S. Lewis // 3 Free C.S. Lewis Quote Printables from Oaxacaborn

Today falls in between the dates when C.S. Lewis was born, and when he passed away, so it seemed a good time to mention him and works, as there have been so many inspired by his writing for more than half a century.

To Narnia and the North!

Guess the Theme Game

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We’ve started a theme around here….a before-and-during Christmas theme.  We don’t usually “do themes” for Christmas, other than Christmas, but I fixated on this idea for awhile and decided to go with it.   (I was told that a theme was ok, as long as it’s not too girly!)  To introduce the kids to my super idea, I made up a little guessing game.  See if you can guess what our theme is…
Narnia Guessing Game for kids by dennasideas.comThe items are hidden in the basket and came out one by one….(I did it without the hints, and added those later)

Narnia Guessing Game for kids by dennasideas.comI wanted to use a compass, but someone lost it for me, so I went with the spyglass.Narnia Guessing Game for kids by dennasideas.comnext…Narnia Guessing Game for kids by dennasideas.comNarnia Guessing Game for kids by dennasideas.comNarnia Guessing Game for kids by dennasideas.comguessed yet?Narnia Guessing Game for kids by dennasideas.comand the most obvious for last…Narnia Guessing Game for kids by dennasideas.comMy last clue was a chocolate bar called Big Turk…chocolate covered Turkish delight, but it was eaten so quickly that I didn’t get a photo of it!!  And no, I still don’t really like Turkish delight, though some of the kids do.  So did you guess our theme?

I thought my guessing game was a good idea, but of course things don’t usually work as planned….before I even opened the basket one of my dear children blurted out the theme.  And didn’t even really give the other kids a chance to guess, just yelled “Narnia” every time something came out of the basket.  That’s when I was getting them to explain exactly how each item went with the theme.  And yes, the theme is Narnia!!  At the end my dear child explained that I had already given away my idea weeks ago….hmmmm….I had forgotten that part!  Oh well, it was kinda fun anyways….even with the spoilsport!Narnia Guessing Game for kids by dennasideas.comAnd then there were cookies….to go with the theme…of course!  What’s a theme without baking???!!!Chronicles of Narnia cookies by dennasideas.comNarnia cookies by dennasideas.comWords to get through the winter on…..”When Aslan bares his teeth, Winter meets it’s death”….that’s what is engraved on High King Peter’s sword.  So this week we’ll be doing our Narnia theme, I’ve already got a few projects on the go!  Can anyone tell me why this week, of all weeks, is the perfect time for a Narnia theme??? Hmmmm???  There’s a good reason 🙂

Mini pumpkin pie cheese appetizers

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Mini pumpkin pie cheese appetizers

I forgot to post these yummy bites in October….so thought I’d post them in time for our southern neighbor’s Thanksgiving.  Funny thing, I was thinking that this weekend was USA Thanksgiving, but just found out it’s next weekend.  Happy Thanksgiving neighbors!!   But….I just received a flyer in the mailbox yesterday for Black Friday sales…..what’s up with that?  This is Canada….Thanksgiving was in October and we….don’t…..have……black…….friday!!!  I don’t appreciate retailers pushing something like that on us!!!  And that’s my rant for today.  Ahem….denna's ideas:  mini pumpkin pie cheese & cracker appetizers for Thanksgiving

Back to these bites of cuteness….in my Thanksgiving preparations I came across this mini pumpkin pie idea and couldn’t rest until I had tried making them!!  (Honestly, I spent weeks obsessing about making them, weird, eh?)  I found these precious pieces of “pie” here on SHEKNOWS with a how to.  They were so cute….but I couldn’t find most of the specialty crackers to make them with.  I did find triangle shaped Triscuits, but had to improvise with the rest of them.denna's ideas:  mini pumpkin pie cheese & cracker appetizers for ThanksgivingI found little pretzel stix in a snacky party mix from the bulk food section at the grocery store for the pie crust edge.  I picked them out and saved them for these appetizers.  The rest is super easy:  Cheddar cheese wedges for the pumkin pie.  Cream cheese (whipped or softened) for the whipped cream, piped out of a plastic baggie with the corner snipped off.  And a triangle Triscuit cracker for the bottom crust.  Assemble with dots of cream cheese to keep everything together.  I found that after I refridgerated them for a few hours the bottom crackers were starting to soften up, so I would suggest assembling these last minute.  They didn’t take long at all…..if you have your crackers in the right size!denna's ideas:  mini pumpkin pie cheese & cracker appetizers for ThanksgivingI completely skipped putting on a crust at the back….and they still looked fine.  I found that if I used a whole Triscuit, the wedge of pie was quite large….maybe too large for a kid’s appetizer.  So I carefully tried to cut down the Triscuit crackers…..kinda worked, but I was forced to eat up all the ones that just crumbled and cracked up!  (quite a few)  The big ones were reserved for Dad, and the rest of us ate the bite-sized ones.denna's ideas:  mini pumpkin pie cheese & cracker appetizers for ThanksgivingAnd where does the pumpkin come in, you ask, (all you pumpkin haters out there!) um, it doesn’t.  This is a case of food imitating…well, uh….food!!  I don’t know why so many of us have a fascination for food that disguises itself as some other food, but there it is.  I know I’m not the only one.  And I know there are lots of “haters” out there who find this idea awful and plain wrong.  And that’s ok.  Just beware…..next time you see a slice of pumpkin pie……beware……..beware the food look-a-likes……denna's ideas:  mini pumpkin pie cheese & cracker appetizers for Thanksgiving

Remembrance Day in Canada

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Remembrance Day in Canada marks the anniversary of the official end of the World War I hostilities on November 11, 1918.  Here in Canada, November 11 is officially called Remembrance Day, but it is also known as Armistice Day and Poppy Day. Remembrance Day is observed in many countries, particularly members of the Commonwealth, including Australia and New Zealand (where it is also referred to as Armistice Day). In the United States, Veterans Day falls on the same date. In the United Kingdom, the Sunday closest to November 11 is known as Remembrance Sunday.Remembrance Day poppy, Canadian Nov.11, dennasideas.com

Remembrance Day is symbolized by the red poppy flower.  Artificial poppies are worn in the weeks preceding Remembrance Day and are later placed at war memorials.  Red poppies symbolize the memory of those who died in service to our country and as our symbol, comes from a poem written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian doctor. The poem is called In Flanders Fields, written on on May 3, 1915 and describes the poppies growing in the Flemish graveyards where soldiers were buried.In Flanders Fields poem, posted by dennasideas.com

The official Canadian national ceremonies are held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario, according to a strict protocol.  A service is held and wreaths are laid by armed services representatives.  In May 2000 the remains of a Canadian soldier who died in France in World War I, but was never  identified, were laid in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial.  Nationally, 2 minutes of silence are observed at 11:00 am.

This year we spent a snowy day at home with the kids, and watched part of the ceremonies on TV, observing the 2 minutes of silence, and then listened to the prayers that were offered while cannons were fired.  It was very moving for me.  I remembered what my grandfathers had done during the war, and we also remembered the military service that Henry’s side of the family has seen.

I had wanted us to watch some old “war movies” and had picked out a couple of classics.  My kids are a little wary of war movies, but they picked the classic movie The Great Escape to watch together since they had seen some of it before, and knew that they would like this one.  I was fine with that, as it has always been a favorite of mine, and I used to really enjoy watching it with my family when I was a kid (gotta love those escape movies!).  Before the movie, we watched some videos about the Canadian military and a vintage U.S. video about the Canadian military (by The Big Picture).  If you are interested, you can find some of the videos we watched on my Canada pinboard here.  (Here’s a photo of my son in some of his Dad’s military gear….not wanting his photo taken)denna's ideas: Remembrance Day

I don’t know why I haven’t thought of this before, but I just decided that in November we will celebrate with poppy seed foods!  Quite fitting, as everyone is wearing their red poppies on their coats and the symbol is displayed everywhere.  I love poppy seed cake!  So we watched our “war”movie while we ate poppy seed cake from my Grandma’s recipe.  I’ve tried a few other recipes since, too.  (Hmm, maybe should add those to the Canada pinboard…)denna's ideas: Remembrance Day poppy seed bundt cakeHere is the recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Cake that my Grandma used to make.  Nowadays I usually do a made-from-scratch version, as I’m not into cake mixes.  But it tastes yummy either way!  If you want a darker crust on the cake, dust the bundt pan with cocoa instead of flour….  I sprinkled the bundt cake above with poppy seeds after drizzling on the icing (cream cheese icing this time).recipe - Page 007denna's ideas: Remembrance Day poppy seed bundt cakedenna's ideas: Remembrance Day poppy seed bundt cake recipeI know this post is a few weeks late, but better late than never, and as it is still November, there’s still time to watch old war movies and eat poppy seed cake, and remember all the friends and relatives and brave souls who have served in our military, keeping peace across the world.Remembrance Day poppy, Canadian Nov.11, dennasideas.com