I’m a bit late with my New Year’s Greetings, but that’s nothing new! 🙂 (At least it’s still January) Here’s Snoopy, apparently fast asleep atop his doghouse, but in reality he’s thinking deep thoughts about the new year, and wishing the best for you and yours in 2014.We did a gingerbread decorating day with my sister and all of our kids, and after the frosting stopped flying, and the kids rumbled off to their next activity, I assembled this gingerbread doghouse for cookie Snoopy. I used the birdhouse pattern that I printed from the instructions here, and just trimmed in the roof sections a bit and cut out the doorway. Then decorated with royal icing and nonpareil snowflakes. Snoopy is such a comforting image from my childhood! Here’s Snoopy’s doghouse with some Christmas lights that I swiped from my nephew…..They didn’t stay on too long when my nephew finally noticed them….! I just love gingerbread!! YUM! I usually end up making some in February, too, not just for Christmas! Anyways, have a great New Year!
Time for a family movie night! We just had to get around to watching the Narnia movies sometime during our Narnian Christmas theme. Yes, it did start out as a November Narnia theme during the C.S. Lewis memorial week, but now it has transformed into a Narnian Christmas! The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in the series, but the first movie (Disney version) that has come out in recent years, so we started with that one. I wanted the kids to enter into the land of Narnia to watch the movie. I’ve been thinking about this theme for awhile, and about ideas to do, so have been gathering a few props. But in the end, I had to throw this movie night together quickly because there happened to be a free, non-school-night that would work.
What images pop into your mind when you think of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe? I guess those three things would be the first obvious ones, the Lion Aslan, the wardrobe full of fur coats which leads into Narnia, and the White Witch who has made it always winter and never Christmas in Narnia. And if you thought of something to eat…would it be the Turkish delight that tempts Edmund into betraying his siblings to the witch? How about that famous symbol, the lighted lamp post, where Lucy first meets the Faun, Mr. Tumnus, in the middle of a wintry wood.
It wasn’t too hard to find some of these things and to quickly decorate my room for movie night. I love the idea of the warm fur coats that the kids push through to get into the back of the wardrobe, and later borrow to wear in the wintry Narnia. Of course I dreamed of making wardrobe doors that would open up and lead into Narnia (I was just going to make them out of large cardboard boxes) but (also of course) I didn’t have time to make all of my ideas. So I passed on the wardrobe and just focused on pushing through the fur coats to get into the land beyond. No fur coats around here, so I used my faux-fur throw (the dark brown color was perfect). Here’s the simple how-to:Get a fur blanket and a tension rod, install the rod in the door frame and drape the blanket over it, that’s all!This is what the inside of the door looked like. The blanket was too heavy to cover the whole door, which would have been cool, but I didn’t have safety pins to pin it, and clothespins didn’t work, so just draped it hanging as long as I could. It gave the right effect, when each kid pushed past the fur “robe” and slipped into Narnia….To create an instant and easy forest did require one purchase. I found this canvas picture of an evergreen tree at IKEA. When I first saw them advertised, I thought that they were kind of strange, especially when I saw that ornaments were pinned on, as if it was a Christmas tree, but now I totally changed my mind and love my canvas tree picture! I scored this one in the As-is section for half-off, but here in Canada the regular price is about $14.50. It looked really big in my room, and only took 5 minutes to tack up on the wall, right along the edge of the ceiling, though it does have a sleeve at the top to run a rope or curtain rod through…It really gives the feel of being in a winter forest, though there isn’t actually snow in the picture. And in the process of setting up movie night, I found out that the tree glows in the dark!! How fun is that? Especially where the lamp post shines on it…Which brings us to the all-important lamp post (lamppost? lamp-post? I don’t know how to spell it…) which I wasn’t going to do without. Another IKEA hack!! I have a small Ikea lamp that cost about $7, it uses smaller round bulbs, so I just pulled off the shade and made a lantern-like top out of black cardstock (heavier than paper, lighter than card). Since I was rushed, I didn’t spend much time on it, and the post at the top is proportionally way too big, but “la idea es esa” you get the idea. I won’t leave the lamp post turned on for long, for fear it will burst into flame. It would probably be great with a night-light bulb in it, but oh well. The top is just a square of cardstock, creased cross-ways and basically just setting on, with 2 dots of glue. There are 4 kinda rectangle shapes glued to a paper circle at the bottom, just to give the illusion that it’s wider and solid at the bottom. And that was it, but kinda cute!It’s not at all sturdy, but fine for just a display. I’m sure there would be ways for making it last longer…oops, I forgot to take a before shot of the lamp….I draped a white sheet over the little bookcase (for snow) and set out a few things…. (hey, right when I typed that sentence out about snow, I remembered that I was going to throw white tissue paper on the floor, so that when you stepped “through the wardrobe” you would “crunch” on the snow!!! What a bummer I forgot!! That would have been super easy but really cool).
The craft store (Michaels) had a great plastic lion (used a 40% off coupon!) for Aslan, I really like the expression on his face. We had Susan and her horn from a McDonald’s meal from a long time ago….And of course, a box of Turkish delight! Didn’t have time to try making our own Turkish delight from this recipe from SprinkleBakes that I want to try, and I think (the adults) we were kinda tired of the real stuff anyways, so Henry picked up some of my favorite chocolates….yummy! That went over well! So the rest of the “decorations” were easy, just lots of comfy pillows, and a small white tree with white lights…I had wanted to make chocolate beaver lodges for dessert, but just let it go for another time… We all piled together and got comfy, ate pizza and our Turkish delight for dessert, and enjoyed the Narnia movie! Happy to report that a fun time was had by all. It helps to have heaps of snow outside in the freezing weather and early darkness to make you feel reallllly cozy! Hope this helps with some ideas for a family movie night for your family!
Ok, this might be a little late, but I figure it’s still the season to eat cranberries!! If you like cranberries and if you like meatballs….I’m pretty sure you will like this tasty meal! I have kids who happen to love both (oh, wait, someone inexplicably doesn’t like cranberries, so we just scraped the sauce off for her, one out of 6 isn’t bad) so it was a recipe that got rave reviews! I haven’t made it for years, but every Christmas, I think about it. Finally, for our (late) New Year’s celebration, I decided that I was going to make these festive meatballs, then realized that I don’t even have the recipe….so I had to call Mom. I’m not sure where the recipe comes from, but years ago our church served these meatballs several times and we both asked for the recipe (I just didn’t realize that I had lost mine).
Here’s the recipe followed by my observations,
Christmas Cranberry Meatballs
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 envelope of onion soup mix
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsely
Mix all ingredients together and shape into meatballs and place on a foil-lined tray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake the meatballs for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, mix up the sauce.
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce (the kind with some sauce/jelly and the whole berries, not just the jelly)
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup beef broth
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 tsp. finely chopped onions
Mix sauce ingredients together, heat and pour over meatballs before serving.
That’s the recipe as-is. I always end up doing some substitutions, because I rarely have the exact ingredients on hand. I didn’t have the envelope of onion soup mix, so I looked it up online and the home-made version is mostly just dried onion flakes and beef bouillon and some seasoned salt, so I did that instead….lots of flaked onion! And for some reason, I had it in my mind that the sauce included Russian dressing, and I did have that on hand so just had to use it, so I substituted it for the tomato sauce. I’m sure that in the end I used more ground beef than the recipe says, so I just kind of eye-balled everything else. The meatball mixture didn’t seem to need an egg, but I’m sure that if you did add one it should be fine (I didn’t). It’s probably a good idea to really mince the parsely super fine, (I didn’t and the large leaves of parsely were very obvious in the meatballs, but we didn’t mind). The meatballs are slightly chunky-looking, but you don’t notice it that much with the sauce on. The recipe says to just heat the sauce, but I actually simmered it a bit and put the meatballs from the oven into the sauce for a little simmer. Obviously this recipe made enough to feed 6 people here, but I can’t say exactly how many it would feed at your house, I guess it depends on the size of the meatballs and the hunger of your group! 😉
Every time we eat meatballs I get quizzed “did you make these yourself or are they from the store?” haha!! The funny part is that it doesn’t seem to matter what the answer is, they always gobble them all up. My answer’s about half the time home-made and half the time store-bought. I find that I don’t like those “italian style” frozen meatballs, but everyone else does. I need to make an effort to make them from scratch more often! Then you know exactly what’s in them! I haven’t tried making meatballs with rice in them, should try that…. Have you tried making meatballs in Italian wedding soup? That’s another almost-favorite around here.